BUENA PARK – This Halloween, Knott’s Scary Farm is stepping up the fear factor in a high-tech way.
A new virtual reality experience called “FearVR: 5150” will give visitors a first-person point of view to horror and carnage unlike anything Knott’s has ever offered.
Forget the 1,000 costumed monsters that jump out of the fog to scare guests. These new monsters will invade their psyche.
“We’re going to take guests on an immersive experience ... in a real-life horror movie,” said Christian Dieckmann, vice president of strategic growth at Cedar Fair, the parent company of Knott’s.
Dieckmann said Cedar Fair will roll out this VR experience to two of its other theme parks – California’s Great America in Santa Clara and Canada’s Wonderland. He also said that the company may add VR to other attractions and roller coasters at Knott’s at a later date.
Visitors who pay a bit extra will be led into an area in the Boardwalk, where they’ll be strapped into a dingy brown wheelchair. Guests will wear headphones and Samsung Gear virtual reality goggles with an Oculus program.
The experience is centered on a girl named Katie who mysteriously shows up at a medical facility.
“We don’t really know much about her, but we quickly start to realize there’s something a little supernatural to her,” said Jon Cooke, entertainment design specialist at Knott’s.
The VR headset puts you in the middle of the action inside the hospital.
One patient seems agitated and attempts to get up from a bed. Security officers try to subdue him. A nurse gives you a shot (which you will feel), knocking you out. When you wake up in the next scene, all hell has broken loose. Look left, right and down, bloody bodies lie on the floor. You hear people whimpering in pain and see zombies coming right at you.
The VR video is about four minutes, but the whole entire scare experience is about 10 minutes long, which includes other videos and interactions before you’re strapped into the chair, Dieckmann said.
“We can’t reveal too much,” Dieckmann said. “There are some things we want to reserve for those who come through it.”
This is the first time Knott’s is introducing a virtual reality attraction.
Cooke said they’ve been developing the storyline since November, immediately after last season’s Scary Farm. He said it was important for them to jump on the new technology to give horror fans a different experience.
They shot the entire piece in-house.
“We had to do it now,” said Cooke, who helped write the story. “With technology advancing so quickly we wanted to get in and get out in front of it this year.”