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Grab a VR headset to take a true virtual theme park visit

by Matt Roseboom

You may have seen an article or two recently talking about how you can virtually visit Disney, Universal and other theme parks around the world while they are closed. (See ours here.) While watching regular 2D point-of-view videos is an easy way to experience the parks, to really feel like you’re there, you’ll need a virtual reality (VR) headset. But fear not, if you don’t have one, you can get one cheap.

What you’ll need

There are a few different kinds of VR headsets. The most popular are the Oculus (Rift, Quest and Go) and Playstation VR. These are the better quality, but more expensive options. Of these, we recommend the Oculus Quest, as it is an easy wireless all-in-one system and lets you also play some really immersive walk-around games like Star Wars: Vader Immortal. The Go is also all-in-one, but doesn’t allow you to walk around and the Rift needs a Windows computer and the Playstation VR hooks to a Playstation 4.

But if you’re not ready or aren’t able to pay $150 or more, no worries. You can buy a Google Cardboard headset for about $8. It and other low-cost VR headsets don’t give you the best quality, and won’t be the most immersive, but they’re worth getting. With these, you put your mobile phone in them to serve as the screen.

Types of VR content

When people talk about virtual reality videos, they could be talking about 360 degree videos or VR 180 3D videos. With 360 videos, you can look all around you – behind, up and down – but they aren’t in 3D, meaning it all looks a bit flat.

Although we have both types on our YouTube channel, we prefer the 180 videos. You can’t look behind you when watching them, but because they are 3D, you feel like you’re really there. When Kylo Ren walks up to you in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you may flinch a bit.

How to Watch

If you have the Oculus or Playstation headsets, download the free YouTube VR app to them. From there, just search “Attractions Magazine VR” and you find all our 360 and 180 videos. Always set your quality to the highest setting. It helps to have a strong, fast internet connection.

For the Google Cardboard and other headsets, you’ll want to pull a VR video up in the YouTube app on your phone, start playing it, turn your phone sideways, then tap the Cardboard icon (it sort of looks like Wall-E’s head). The screen will split into two smaller screens (pictured above). Now insert your phone into the viewer and enjoy! Move your head all around to look around.

If you find yourself getting dizzy, watch while sitting down. Also, all VR180 videos aren’t created equal. We specifically try to stay still or very steady while filming them. There are lots of other great VR videos besides ours on YouTube, but there are also lots of people who don’t know the proper way to shoot them and those will make you dizzy.

If you don’t have a VR headset and want to check out some of the videos below, we suggest watching in the YouTube app on your cell phone and moving your phone around while watching. If you insist on watching on a computer, you can click and drag to look around.

VR Videos

We have lots of VR videos and will be adding more as soon as we can get back onto the theme parks. We also have some from water parks, conventions and cruise ships. Here are some links:

VR 180 3D Videos:
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Illuminations July 4th Fireworks
Wonderful World of Animation show
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Tour
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade
Sesame Street Halloween Parade
Megacon 2019 Cosplay
Tour of Castaway Cay
Super Hero Celebration with Mickey and Friends
Norwegian Encore Cruise Ship Tour
‘The Orange’ Dessert at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

360 Degree VR Videos
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Walkthrough Future World at Epcot
Radiator Springs Racers
Walkthrough Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
First Reaction to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Cutback Water Coaster
It’s a Small World Holiday
Infinity Falls
TeAwa The Fearless River
Kali River Rapids
Slinky Dog Dash
Alien Swirling Saucers
Expedition Everest
Mine Blower roller coaster
Na’vi River Journey
Frozen Ever After
Cobra’s Curse
Primeval Whirl
Grand opening of Disney Springs Town Center

Believe it or not, we have even more on our YouTube channel. Just be warned that the older they are, the worse the quality may be, as we have been shooting VR since our magazine began in 2007 and have been upgrading our cameras as they get better every couple of years.

We also have a new camera we haven’t had a chance to try yet. It shoots VR 3D 360, combining the best of the two types. Stay tuned and let us know which attraction you’d like to see us film next in the comments below.

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