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Can I just leave this here...

AYYYYYY YOU GOT PUNK'D

According to Mr Fish, they have spent £0 on retheming this ride.

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I'm going to be the oddball here and put forward the opinion that not only do I believe Galactica is far better than Air, but it also offers a superior virtual reality experience for riders compared to Ghost Train.

 

Haven ridden both Galactica and Ghost Train approximately 10 times each over the course of 2016, there has never been a moment where I am worried or concerned I will get a bad experience with Galactica because it all boils down to two simple words - reliability & re-rideability.

 

To me, I have seen a far more complete and enjoyable experience with Galactica for a few reasons. Not only do I believe the footage used is more fun and even thrilling, but the quality of it too. Far more exciting things happens with Galactica when you fly through the portals to 4 different worlds, the audio is loud enough so you can hear the brilliant music and voiceover in perfect synchronisation with the visual content making it more exciting, and I have had no glitches occur on my screen out of all the 9 times I have ridden it. I don't know if I have been incredibly lucky having no issues, or I'm not seeing the problems other people are having.

 

Compare this to Ghost Train where the content begins well with human characters interacting and talking to you, but it falls flat very quickly in the second half where simply put, a few creatures simply stare at you so you can admire the incredibly low resolution textures used on their faces, aliasing that makes my 14 year old PS2 system look impressive and then some lovely green smoke to fill in the waiting time whilst the system breaks down on a daily basis. And to top it all off, to be thrown into the ground filled with fire and magma which is not convincing one little bit and finishes the ride rather boringly.

 

Not once have I had a single issue that is hardware related to the Samsung Gear VR headsets used for both visual and audio wise on Galactica, mainly because I believe there is only a single cable providing the headsets and headphones power that is not as susceptible to wear and tear compared to Ghost Train. There are no extra cables needed to sync the headsets to the control unit to keep the content in sync with the movement of the train, all of this is done via the units in-between the seats and is communicated to the headsets via Bluetooth. Not only does this ensure there are less cables, but it makes the system more reliable for long-term use.

 

Again, look at Ghost Train. How many cables power these headsets alone? 5 or 6 isn't it? And when you use them, almost every time there is a hardware issue somewhere; whether it's the connection between the headset and the black lighthouse box on the ceiling becoming weak resulting in a glitchy as hell visual signal, audio being too quiet through the headphones, or the left and right channels getting mixed up, or even not working at all and is covered in a bag.

 

Lastly, the biggest advantage with Galactica over Air and Ghost Train is that the VR experience is optional. People who are complaining about wanting Air back and Galactica's VR removed, all I ask is currently, what has been lost or taken away from Air that you want back so badly? Sure, the queues might be slower, there's no longer a single rider queue and the faff involved with the headsets might be a nuisance to some. But honestly, is there anything else that has been taken away?

 

The fact the experience is entirely optional (from June onwards) is a selling point for Galactica. You can still have the same old experience of Air if you choose without the headsets with the same track layout, the same scenery (plus the portal), the same speed, the same beautifully themed concrete tunnel and the same experience if you choose. But for those who want to try something different and immerse themselves in an entirely new environment in space or want to see what VR on a coaster is like, this is the ideal ride that suits both audiences. Ghost Train is entirely dependant on using VR and that's a big problem I see with the experience, because you are forced to wear them which narrows down your market to a selected group of people who will ride it only for the VR experience, nothing else which sadly over time the popularity will diminish for it. So I honestly don't see what the fuss is over with wanting Air back over Galactica except for betting back a slightly quicker queue.

 

To conclude, Galactica is a great example of what VR can be when done (for the most part) correctly and I will stand by this until I am proven otherwise. I'm not saying Galactica is perfect in anyway and it does need some enhancements made to make it even more enjoyable for riders, but it's a vast difference compared to the frankly abysmal experience you could sometimes get with Ghost Train. Also, when you consider Galactica and the Rollercoaster Restaurant combined is an investment that is under £2M with generally quite favourable reviews from riders and guests in comparison to Ghost Train which cost over £13M (projected) that has opened up to generally very negative reviews due to reliability, quality and hardware issues, this is a perfect example of how money is not everything when it comes to who can provide the better experience.

 

As I said at the beginning, Galactica wins hands down as a better experience compared to both its predecessor and its rival and I hope the virtual reality stays with minor enhancements made to make it even better, because feedback has been considerably more favourable compared to it’s “future for theme parks across the world” rival embarrassment and I would recommend Galactica over it to anyone who has never experienced virtual reality before.

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5 hours ago, ChessingtonSam said:

I personally haven't experienced Galactica with VR, but judging by other people's complaints I think it needs a full revamp for 2017, and by that I mean just make it an actual 360 video instead of what you get if you use cardboard on a non-360 YouTube video.

Thats not the main problem with Galactica's VR TBH.

The main problem is the quality of the VR..

The VR looks very cheap, and is blurry for a lot of the ride.

The throughput is another huge problem in itself..

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

I was going to write a full out review / blog post on my views of Galactica after experiencing it for the first time this weekend.  But then I realised there's not a lot to say.

 

The VR isn't great quality (I personally found Ghost Train's old VR slightly better).  The audio is far too quiet.  My first go I had an issue where the video was tilted.  And it all feels very quick, like it crammed too much in.

 

But at the same time, it is interesting.  It's something that really draws you in, you are intrigued by it, you are curious about what will happen.  It's likeable.  The branding is very good as well.  And throughput wasn't as bad as I expected..

 

So yeah, it's alright.  Nothing special, nothing awful.  

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I find it interesting that Towers are doing these videos going into a bit more depth about shutdowns, etc. after they're bought up in the media.  Yet Merlin parks will only ever give the 'This ride has currently ceased operation due to an unexpected delay' line to guests when it is happening.

 

Makes you wonder if they gave a bit more information about shutdowns, would the public feel more at ease knowing the situation is under control?  Seeing a coaster stuck half way up a lift hill and hearing it's an 'unexpected delay' sounds more concerning than being told, say, 'The computer system that runs the ride noticed something odd, so it's just doing checks again' or something.  

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I applaud AT for these videos - like I said on Facebook, they shouldn't have to explain themselves - but it helps shutdown (no pun intended) the Daily Mail fake news articles.

 

I haven't read the article, but I wonder if they mentioned the Smiler accident in it - I'm sure they did....

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I think that they should take off the VR headsets on the front rows. It's unfair if people on the front row wear the headsets because they will get exactly the same experience on the other rows. If people are going to go on the front row, they should all take advantage of flying and swooping around forbidden valley as the ride originally intended. Call me old fashioned, but I still enjoy it as the original, first flying coaster.

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Agree about front row - so much better than looking at the people's feet in front of you.

Ive yet to experience Galactica VR this year because on both my visits it wasn't ready however I much prefer Air anyway - would be interested in seeing what's changed with the VR though 

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During my Alton Towers trip last week I finally got round to riding Galactica for the first time. Before I launch into my review, I've just got to comment on that recent newspaper article about riders being stuck on Galactica upside down for 30 minutes in the searing heat. I was there, not on the ride, but was in Forbidden Valley at the time. Tuesday was boiling yes, but Wednesday wasn't even hot. It was a much cooler temperature, very cloudy. Can't have been more than 24/25 degrees. And yes, they were facing down, so would have actually been in the shade, even though it was a cloudy day. And the ride stoppage was about 15 minutes. So the whole article is not only an exaggeration, it's just lying on most counts. Media rant over. 

 

As for my ride on Galactica, it was a mixed experience. No matter the quality of the actual ride, the whole experience was ruined by the painfully slow boarding process. It was a quiet day, and so the ride was only running on one station. (I presume this is the case for quiet days only?!) Not only was it painfully slow watching every train have the goggles cleaned and put away, only to be taken out again when the next riders board, but the queue line now moves at an incredibly slow pace. The queue when we joined was just past the new photo point, and we were queueing for 45 minutes until we got on. The second time we rode Galactica on Thursday, the queue was just up to the food and drink vending machines, and we were waiting for over an hour. 

 

The actual ride was quite impressive. As a new experience to me, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and it did offer a brand new experience. Arguably yes much of what I experienced could be experienced in a simulator, but the added effect of being on a rollercoaster (ride forces, wind etc) really created a great unique experience to AT. 

 

Once again the positive experience on the ride was let down by trains being held outside the station for up to 5 minutes, causing most people to end the ride with an uncomfortable rush of blood to the head, arms and legs while they wait to get off the ride. This was really unfortunate, as it did deter me from riding again. I only did as everyone else in my group wanted to. I presume this problem will go when two stations are open in peak seasons (I really hope that will be the case - the ride would be an absolute nightmare on one station in the summer). 

So as for the ride, it was a fun, new and exciting experience and that I really enjoyed. It's just such a shame that it has become such an inefficient ride in terms of throughput. Having said that, the staff were working their socks off and were boarding as fast as they could. It's a real shame that even with that hard work, the installation of VR on the ride has created such a lengthly ride process. 

 

Logistically there may be reasons why this wouldn't work, but while queueing I couldn't help think that they could have one station for VR and one without, so that if you didn't want VR you could head straight to that station and have a reduced queueing time? I presume the percentage of people wanting to use VR heavily outweighs those not though...

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I forgot to mention Galactica on my last visit, we were waiting in the station for about half an hour because the ride wouldn't start with people on. People were taken off the ride and it dispatched fine, but once they got back on it wouldn't start and the technical problem announcement played again. Eventually they added a third train and everything was fine again. Does anyone know what happened? 

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  • 1 month later...

What sort of numbers do they manage these days on the ride in terms of throughput? Obviously I guess there's a significant drop compared to the pre-VR days when with 3 trains they were capable of going so fast that every single train would have to slow or even stop on the lift. 

 

Ah, but you see people would much rather wait for 5min dispatches and wear a VR headset than go on a fun and efficiently operated ride. Said no one!!!

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  • 11 months later...

VR wasn't being used at all last Friday, resulting in a quick and efficiently run ride, and with trains being dispatched quickly, the lift hill slowed down like Air days.

 

What was interesting was no notice of it the VR being unavailable at the entrance, nor did the two members of staff in the queue say anything.

 

Despite VR being unavailable, I did not hear a single person moan it was without VR,. Guess it's not so popular after all!

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It was painfully slow last Sunday with VR working, only two trains (one station) running and stacking for 5 minutes each time.  It's shocking when they allow fads like VR to impact on the efficient operation of the ride, needs to go ASAP!

 

Also it broke down twice but so did Rita.

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