Press release: The Dark Ride Project –Â Saving classic haunted attractions using Virtual Reality
Since the 1970s, hundreds of ghost trains andÂ haunted house rides have closed across the USA and they are now anÂ endangered species. The Dark Ride Project captures the last of the worldâ€™s dark rides using virtualÂ reality, sharing their history to promote and save them.
In the 1930s, the Pretzel Ride company built nearly 1,700 rides for amusement parks across theÂ United States, but todayÂ only three of those rides still exist. The Spookhouse in Keansburg, NJ wasÂ one of those rides but it was decimated by Hurricane Sandy and has struggled to re-open. WhetherÂ it is the Trimper family of Trimperâ€™s Amusements or the three generations of Fasnacht family whoÂ run Funland, DL these types of rides are an important part of the community. Despite being part ofÂ the American psyche there have been no substantial efforts to record the insides of these rides.
Until now, there hasnâ€™t been a secure way to record and share this type of experience. But the growing popularity and uptake of virtual realityÂ technology is a perfect fit.
The Dark Ride project uses ultra low light cameras on a special rigÂ attached to aÂ cart. The 360-degree setup allows the capture of the ride experience from everyÂ angle. Whether a ghoul jumps out from the sideÂ or a bat swoops down from above, everything isÂ captured — apart from the smell of fear.
The Dark Ride project has journeyed across the world and captured rides from Alabama to AustraliaÂ but is asking for additionalÂ help to continue. The videos that have already been recorded are available on YouTube and can be experienced on everythingÂ from a smart phone to the latest HTC Vive.
Their Indiegogo campaign is seeking funding to complete the archive of Dark Rides and find a way toÂ get the experiences and the stories of the parks to a broader audience.
Joel Zika, the creator of the Dark Ride project,Â is an academic, artist and lectures in screen and design at Deakin University inÂ Melbourne, Australia. Follow the project on Facebook here.