Park takes plunge into 'abyss'

Local | Lauren Lau 26 Jun 2019

Ocean Park has introduced its first ever virtual reality free fall ride in Hong Kong, The Abyss - VR Space Voyage, which opens to the public today.

The thrilling new ride features virtual reality goggles. It enhances the sensation of centrifugal force and allows riders to follow a storyline of embarking on a space mission.

Faced with the threats posed by climate change, humans are looking to Saturn's largest moon, Titan, on this space voyage as a new habitat.

Visitors queuing for the ride can watch an educational pre-show, and play with interactive games with augmented reality elements.

"Combining technology with rides has been a success for us, and we expect this ride to be a strong attraction for youths and families with young kids this summer," said executive director of operations and entertainment Timothy Ng Sau-kin.

Ocean Park spent a year and a seven-figure sum developing the ride in collaboration with Aprille Ericsson, an American engineer.

The first female and first African-American woman to receive a PhD in mechanical engineering from Howard University and a PhD in engineering at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center, Ericsson helped create the storyline by providing factual information. She also appears in the ride's introductory video.

"As an educator and engineer, I am motivated by students and my daughter with the work I do. I think implementing STEM education in rides inspire people to think about the mechanics and physics behind the attraction.

"I jumped at the opportunity to work with Ocean Park to engage people in space travel and the coding and visualizations of the ride," she said.

"We want youths coming to the ride to think about the science behind the rise and fall of the attraction, as well as, the physics behind the sensation of free falling," said Patrick Tang Man-hon, a STEM expert responsible for Ocean Park's education program.

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