Following its public opening last week, Peter Cliff from Holovis has revealed details of the company's involvement on the new Wicker Man coaster at Alton Towers.
Cliff, creative director at Holovis, said the ride combines storytelling with new technologies to create powerful, guest-led experiences that in turn create long lasting memories that has guests making return visits to the park.
"With new coaster experiences we can do things that have never been done before, and, ultimately, it comes down to the fact that storytelling and immersion is what keeps people returning to the park, because they connect with emotional experiences," said Cliff speaking to Attractions Management.
"We've tried to create something that's very visceral, very kinetic but at the same time really captures people's imaginations. That’s what story and immersion can do when done well," he added.
The immersive experience design firm has been involved with the project since its inception more than two years ago, and was responsible for all of the ride's storytelling elements, including the queue line and preshow.
To create the preshow Holovis worked closely with Merlin Magic Making (MMM) to develop the concept and script. The company then used projection mapping to create an elaborate projection of the disembodied face of the Wicker Man, 'choosing' his next victims.
Both the preshow and queue line are designed to extend the narrative of the ride and build anticipation by immersing riders in the terrifying story of the Wicker Man as soon as they set foot on the attraction.
"We've extended the narrative. With all the show elements we've actually got four or five minutes of storytelling that builds up to the finale of the ride," said Cliff.
"Immersive pre and post show scenes have now become a staple of the traditional rollercoaster experience, extending the thrill of the ride from just a few minutes to something that guests will remember."
In addition, Holovis worked alongside the attraction engineers to integrate the AV, digital, show and media set ups throughout the ride, and programmed all the SFX, including the pyrotechnics.
Inspired by local legend and pagan rituals, Wicker Man is the first ride, according to Merlin, that combines fire and wood. It was created by Great Coasters International and cost £16m (US$21.6m, €18m) to develop. It is the first wooden coaster to open in the UK in more than 20 years.