What You Can Expect from ‘VR Ghost Train’
Derren Brown sent creepy life-sized Victorian dolls out to wander amongst London commuters on the Underground and promise riders an unforgettable experience “like nothing you have ever seen before” that will “derail your mind,” the Ghost Train is the year’s most anticipated attraction. Here are some of the things we can expect from the Ghost Train.
1. VR like you’ve never seen before
VR rollercoasters are great by themselves, but the Ghost Train is a lot more than just a hissing sound round the tracks with a headset on. “If we’d have wanted to do a rollercoaster, it would have been a lot easier,” admits Brown, “but there was no template with this. We’re embedding VR within a much more holistic experience, and there’s so much more going on.”
Introduce a couple of live scare actors, visual effects and tricks and 4D special effects and the Ghost Train – located in a 2,306 metre square warehouse – and it becomes clear that the Train runs on fresh territory never before touched in the theme park world.
2. Cutting-edge tech
About 3 years ago when Brown and Thorpe Park started working together on the Train, VR technology was very far from what it is today. The attraction’s headsets, HTC’s $996-a-pop Vive, sends the user hurtling into a very realistic VR universe. The experience can be quite frightening.
3. More bang for your buck
“I do like rollercoasters, but I think they’re always over too quickly,” says Derren. Probably that’s why each journey lasts for an average 12-15 minutes. However, the experience starts the moment you step into the queue line.
4. A completely different ride to your neighbor’s
Each seat and headset looks very similar but it’s a lot more complex. “There are 12 different permutation of the experience,” explains Brown, “so there are elements in your VR world that will vary depending on where you sit.”
This was done as Brown typically does, to befuddle riders. “I wanted people to come off and discuss what they’d seen, only to realise they’d experienced totally different characters,” he says.
5. Scarily good fun
“I do love the idea of being really scared of something,” admits Brown, “I think that the idea of getting really scared in a safe environment, there’s something very cathartic about that isn’t there?”
That’s the idea behind the ghost train – to “experience intensity,” without being in any real danger. That said, Brown was careful to keep the ride thrilling, not harrowing.
“I didn’t want people to step off the Ghost Train thinking ‘oh that was horrible, I want to sit down,’ I wanted them to say ‘oh wow that was amazing!’ I had a sense of what it would be emotionally.”
6. A ride that’s really not for the faint-hearted
“I’ve got a very high threshold for finding things scary, and if I went on this I would be scared and thrilled and amazed,” Brown says, “I don’t generally get very scared by horror films. I used myself as a benchmark for that.”
7. A spider-free experience (possibly…)
As regard to what Brown himself is scared of? The common house spider is his fear. “I don’t like spiders, I couldn’t go to bed if one was on the wall.” Will any eight-legged friends be in the Train? We’ll need to ride through all the 12 versions to find out.