Battle for Eire: New Virtual Reality Experience now open at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Addie cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of Battle for Eire.
Photo: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s new virtual reality ride, Battle for Eire – Action VR Ride, is now open. This revolutionary new experience features an Irish fairy warrior named Addie who leads riders on a spectacular adventure through her homeland in Ireland.

This new Irish-themed attraction takes the place of Europe in the Air in the Ireland village of the park. A whole host of heroic and villainous characters join Addie on this epic adventure. The goal is to rescue the Heart of Eire, which represents Ireland, from the evil villain Balor. Guests wear Emerald Masks to see this magical world known as the Other World.

Battle for Eire is a combination of a motion-based theater simulator (like Europe in the Air) and state-of-the-art 360-degree virtual reality (VR) headsets, which creates an experience unlike any other in the attraction industry. Riders become completely immersed in the story and can see, hear and feel actions happening all around them, through both the VR headsets and the motions of the simulator.

Photo: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

“We are taking guests on an incredible journey,” said Larry Giles, Vice President of Engineering at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. “The movement of the simulator combined with interactive special effects from the VR headsets will deliver an exciting, high-energy experience, with a great storyline.”

Dignitaries at the official ribbon cutting ceremony included Senator Tommy Norment, John McGlennon of the County Board of Supervisors, and Karen Riordan, President and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance. Also in attendance were local Boys & Girls Club members, which Busch Gardens has partnered with in the past. The star of the show was Addie herself, who cut the emerald rope and posed for pics with guests.

“With Battle For Eire and the 360-degree virtual reality, riders can have a unique experience each time they ride,” said Kevin Lembke, Park President for Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. “That’s what’s going to keep people coming back over and over again.”

Battle for Eire was my first foray into the world of VR. I love motion simulator rides, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect with VR. It was really cool to feel as if you’re riding on the back of a dragon and swooping through the sky. Apparently, each ride can be an all-new experience as you may see different things each time.

Speaking of “seeing,” here’s a quick look at the snazzy headgear you’ll get to wear. Suzy Cheely, Busch Gardens Director of Design and Engineering, demonstrates how to put on the Emerald Mask (which comes in two sizes – large and small) and the Enchanted Lens (which is the part that has all of the technical stuff in it).

The green Emerald Masks are collected after every use (like the typical 3D ride glasses), cleaned and santized. The Magical Lens is connected to the seat. It attaches to the Emerald Mask via magnets at the top and sides. It does not come into actual contact with the face.

Emerald Masks

Battle for Eire seats with Magical Lenses in place.

Magical Lens – Notice the magnets at the top and sides where it attaches to the Emerald Mask.

The front-facing portion of the Magical Lens. This is where all the technology takes place.

“Battle For Eire is a phenomenal new experience. It’s something that has never been done before,” said Larry Giles. “You really feel like you’re there. You’re not just watching it. You’re part of it.”

Lots of cool Battle for Eire merchandise.

For more information on Battle For Eire, or to purchase tickets, please visit buschgardens.com/williamsburg or call (757) 229-4386. Follow @BuschGardensVA on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Battle for Eire – Action VR Ride

 

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