Thrill Park

In 1997 I developed a proposal for a Six Flags Over Texas theme park. Unfortunately, the funding did not materialize. This is part of that proposal.


Most theme park rides are expensive one-of-a-kind creations that titillate consumers for a few rides, but soon lose their draw from the local community. Marketing and other resources must be expended to continually attract new customers to the ride from ever greater distances. Eventually the ride is no longer cost-effective and must be replaced

Recently six degree of freedom simulators, like Disney's "Star Tours" have been successfully used as theme park rides. Their primary advantage is that with a change in the audio and visual content, a new ride is created. With a change in actuator programming as well as audio and visual content, a really new ride is created. The major investment is preserved with relatively minor adjustments to content and motion.

Another advantage of the six degree of freedom simulator solution is that it is fully enclosed. It can be operated day or night, regardless of the weather. Its environment can be fully controlled for comfort and effect.

A disadvantage of the simulator solution is that the duration of the accelerations that can be experienced is limited by actuator stroke length. A true free flight experience cannot be achieved. There is no extended roll, pitch or yaw motion. There is no extended acceleration or deceleration.

Furthermore, the six degree of freedom simulator solutions currently available do not accommodate user input. The motion is programmed to match the audio and visuals. No variation is tolerated. The customer is just along for the ride.

This approach preserves the advantages of the six degree of freedom simulator solution while eliminating its disadvantages.

Acceleration Effects Table

Gs Example Effect
0 Free fall, astronaut in orbit Weightlessness
1 Earthly gravity Normal
2 Firefighter carrying someone Work
3 Moderate thrill rides; space shuttle during launch Blood cannot reach brain in standing person
4-5 Extreme thrill rides Blood turned toward legs; visual "gray-out" in a few seconds
6-12 Fighter pilot in extreme maneuvers Pressurized suits and muscle contractions help force blood to head
>10 Car crash Severe injury or death

The user is free to select the vehicle (roller-coaster, bob sled, boat, automobile, motorcycle, airplane, jet, spaceship, etc.) and the experience (tour, race, battle, natural events, etc.).

The scene and experience can range from the theoretical universe (black holes, worm holes) to planets (tornado, hurricane, land, water, methane lake, earthquake, plate subduction or expansion zone, geyser, volcano) to matter (mineral, crystal, molecule, atom, subatomic particle).

Available throughout the planetary experience is the experience of life from people and their economies, nations, culture, tribes, families and important individuals to all forms of life from blue whales to organs and cells.

Participants can travel through virtual dimensions spanning twenty four orders of magnitude.


Modularity is the key to this solution. I justifies mass-production to lower cost. It allows installations to start small and grow as demand dictates. It allows an installation to be reconfigured at relatively low cost. Facades, lighting, fog and other effects can be used to provide an ambiance appropriate for the ride. Massive outdoor structures and not required to achieve the desired accelerations.

POD Module

Each POD consists of two eight-foot diameter stretch-formed stainless steel hemispheres bolted together with a pipe (shaft) through the assembly protruding beyond the sphere sufficiently far to act as the shaft of a solenoid vibrator/shaker on one end and a high-torque stepper-motor on the other that provides yaw motion for the occupants.

POD Interior Side View

Pod module

The POD provides a fully controlled and configurable virtual reality (VR) environment for two adults and a small child. Touch sensitive displays between the seats and the shaft allow the users to select their preferred language, vehicle, configure the vehicle, configure their seats for different roles (pilot, navigator, weapons officer, etc.), select their experience, start or resume the experience, etc. On the back of the shaft is video communications display, speaker and an instrument display that adapts to the vehicle configuration.

POD Interior Plan View

Pod interior plan view

Four projectors at the center of the sphere display on the interior of the sphere in four "windows," encompassing a 240 degree field of view. The display generated adapts according to the attitude and speed inputs of the pilot and displays the weapons fire of the weapons officer or pilot/weapons officer. It also displays computer-generated allies and adversaries or the vehicles of other participants as they play the role of ally or adversary and their weapons fire.

The POD contains a video camera for direct observation of the occupants by seat loading crew members, and by friends and family who are authorized to watch the occupants to alleviate safety concerns or enjoy the expressions of the occupants as they enjoy their experience. The video camera can also be used to display the crew to their allies or adversaries when they engage in vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

POD Interior Front View

Pod front view interior

The POD is environmentally controlled for occupant comfort or sensory experience. The air is refreshed often to avoid claustrophobia. A "panic" mushroom button on the shaft allows any occupant to immediately terminate the experience and return to earth normal gravity and orientation. On carousel group experiences involving eight PODS, depressing the panic switch once stops all motion of that POD. A second depression of the panic switch is required to stop the carousel.

A POD can be used with or without vibration, shaking or horizontal rotation (yaw) as selected by the occupants. This is appropriate for serene voyages or for observing the experiences of more adventurous friends and family members as simulated from their viewpoint, from immediately behind them as if sitting in tandem or from above them at any distance. In the latter case the observers hear as well as see what the participants are experiencing. Furthermore, the observers can be in verbal contact with the participants, so mom can not only share her son's experience, but also help him avoid obstacles or attackers or find a goal This remote participation capability allows physically fit adrenaline junkies to share their experience with elderly, infirm or young family members and friends.

PODs can be electronically linked so is appears to the occupants that are sharing the same experience as desired by families larger than three or groups. For example, roller coaster aficionado clubs may want to experience as a group their favorite roller coaster rides.


Each POD is equipped with a SEAT ASSEMBLY, which consists of two identical adult SEATs, a rumble seat and POD door. The SEAT ASSEMBLY is rolled into the POD as one unit from a loading or staging area (POD Loading diagram, page ?). This allows loading personnel full access to the SEATs so they can attach adapters to the SEATs to accommodate different body sizes, styles and missing limbs before securing the participants to the SEATs. The SEAT ASSEMBLY includes baffled ballast tanks so loading personnel can adjust the center of gravity of the assembly before it is loaded into a POD.

SEAT Modules

Each SEAT has surround sound head rests. The adult SEATs have left- and right-hand control sticks and pedals.

Pod seat module


A GIMBAL consists of a steel pipe bent in circle and welded with small axles 180 degrees apart that are sufficiently long to act as the shaft of a solenoid vibrator/shaker on one end and a high-torque stepper-motor on the other. The GIMBAL attaches to POD module solenoid and motor (90 degrees out of alignment with the GIMBAL solenoid and motor) to provide 360 degrees of freedom of rotation, shock and vibration in three axes when used in conjunction with the POD solenoid and motor. Adds 1 g extended orientation and pitch and roll experience to the POD.

POD and GIMBAL diagram

Pod gimbal


A CAROUSEL consists of eight gimbaled or non-gimbaled PODs in any balanced combination attached to the inside of a cylinder that can rotate (Carousel Module diagram, page ). A loading/unloading platform on the periphery of the cylinder accommodates sixteen radial loading areas, half of which have SEAT ASSEMBLIES. The other eight SEAT ASSEMBLIES are in the PODS. The cylinder indexes one loading station to facilitate the unloading and loading of participants. A CAROUSEL can also be rotated to create 2 gs radially (90 degrees to earth's 1 g). It provides extended acceleration for a group experience

Carousel Module


A CENTRIFUGE is a CAROUSEL with only one POD and a counter-weight or two pods. It provides extended accelerations of varying magnitude (change cylinder rotational velocity or radius) under occupant control for extreme-G flight simulation, and a near-death experience as blood drains from the brain for long enough for unconsciousness to occur. Two pods or multiple CENTRIFUGEs allow for realist dog fight experiences.

A determination of physical health, release from liability and medical staff are advisable.

DOME Module

A DOME provides a controlled environment for up to ten CAROUSEL and CENTRIFUGE Modules in any combination on up to three floors. The center two of the top floor can be DROP modules

Dome module

Tracking Device

A badge or bracelet is used by customer or employee to provide information necessary to simulate body posture, body gate and appendage position for VR space.

Locater - All customers and employees are instrumented with a device that allows their identity and geographic location to be determined. Could be pocket/purse-size GPS/transmitter or microwave transponder (warehouse).

Communicator - All customers and employees have a beeper or other notification device or transceiver (PDA 900 MHz, 200 yards, cellular, etc.). Should be combined with Locater.

Memory - Retains visit history so experiences can be interrupted and re-engaged months later. Contains discount rate, park area restrictions (adult/child), guardian contact information and doctor authorizations for potentially dangerous physical and visual experiences. Optionally contains medical information for park medics. Should be combined with Locater.


With the foregoing mass-produced components all of the following, and more can be simulated.



Explore the known and theoretical wonders of the universe (nebula, black hole, worm hole), visit galaxies, star clusters, planetary systems, planets. Once at a planet, explore its real or imagined geology, biology, culture, etc. (see below - proposal should be hyperlinked).

Experience what it's like to fall into a black hole or traverse a worm hole.

Follow real space explorations Explorer, Voyager, etc. using JPL footage.

Experience the latest movie (Star Wars, Star Trek, Contact, Alien Insects, Jurassic Park) or TV episode (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Babylon V) using Hollywood footage.

Travel from the outer reaches of the universe to earth to the location of the park.

Learn stellar cartography or navigation proficiency.


Explore surface geology in a tracked vehicle and examine its cause (weathering, subterranean activity). Watch out for bogs, crevasses, sink holes and caves or you may fall into the earth.

Experience severe forms of weather. Ride a hurricane or tornado.

Plunge into the planet to determine the cause of the surface geology (continental drift, subduction, mountain-building, etc.). Get caught in a subduction zone magma bubble and be shot out of a volcano or bubble out a mid-ocean thermal vent and explore the ocean.


See eco-systems spontaneously emerge in desirable geology and change in response to geologic and weather changes. Examine the biologic diversity at the margins of an eco-system or the boundary between eco-systems. See the effect of competition and test the introduction of a new species. Explore the myriad of bacteria, soil nematodes, insects and animals and do battle with them or enroll them in your service.

Experience the effect of parasitism, cooperation and competition, and watch spontaneous self-organization occur at any level of biology from international free-market economies (civilization) to land use (city, hive, colony) to neighborhood (tribe) to family to organs to cells or organelles to proteins, to molecules to atoms ... to another universe.

See how geographic isolation results in cultures and how environment shapes them. Experience the many cultures of earth.


Pay entry fee, enter park and get a Locater/Communicator. If first visit, purchase Memory so it can be retained by customer.

Customers walk or ride from Sphere to Sphere in various settings. Facades are used to make each Sphere appear to be a different vehicle type appropriate for the setting and experience. Each VR experience provides knowledge or problem solving skills that are tested. Pass the test and you get a prize (food, beverage, access to another experience or skill level).

Access Levels

e POD may be custom adapted to gradually acclimate the crew from grocery store trips to near full fighter pilot environment at the pinnacle of maneuvering engagements.

To become eligible for POD pilot operation each crew member must go through an indoctrination briefing to familiarize themselves with the capsule control features emphasizing safety above all else. Sample stationary capsules are utilized for hands-on familiarization.

Once crew qualification rating has been achieved, the park guest may join members of a experience concourse to select from a library of a field of exploration. This hall of records has visual terminals that allow one to select an adventure. Teaming is done at this time.

Stationary SEAT ASSEMBLIES with touch-sensitive displays and instrument panels on a shaft (column) identical to that of a POD can be provided to allow customers to configure POD functions. These can also be used for experience planning and OMNILOCATOR purposes. A maintenance and supply basement lies below all of the floors. Above the CAROUSEL floors is a meeting (family rendezvous, team selection, etc.), eating (restaurants) and planning (what next) floor. Stationary SEAT ASSEMBLIES are found in abundance here relative to the CAROUSEL floors.-can be test and a is awarded


Each Module incorporates diagnostic subsystems to help maintenance personnel isolate mechanical and electrical anomalies. A pre- and post-system check data collection repository enables Module parameters to be monitored for historical statistical process control. As-designed prediction algorithms allow for the monitoring of electrical and mechanical performance. The subsystems of critical components and assemblies are tracked for problem containment within operational limits.

PODs not within designed operational parameters are removed from general park availability status and located to a repair augmentation area outside the preview of park guests. Each POD is uniquely identified for historical tracking over the life cycle of the POD.

The maintenance schedule will be based on the accumulation of duty cycle units rather than calendar time.



Connect to Internet for marketing and publicity

Design participation

Have a 20 year plan to allow park visitors to participate in designing the next construction phase.

Create a universe have take others through it on a tour guide. This can be created off-line via the Internet and experienced when you arrive.

Design center for architecture - product design - entrepreneur tap into product companies.


History exploration - Dinosaurs to Star City

Meet your twin. Your behavior properties are mapped to an eigenvalue of the collective and is cloneable for you own use.

Physics - experience from quantum properties to galactic properties. (10-12 to 1012)

How things work, clocks, engines, mechanisms

Warped space (mobius strip, or Week's - The Shape of Space, Flatland)

Anatomy world - become a microbe or virus and view subdermal universe. Display Kurlian Photography in 3-D

Book world - (participate in a story)

Music world

Meet people - fiction and non-fiction

Library of Alexandria


Aircraft carrier launch

Shuttle launch

Auto race from Bejing to Paris

Bumper cars

Strategy games, board games for major manufacturers (possible cross sponsor)

Music with favorite scenes.

Experience famous people.


Professionals who need powerful visualization or sales tools, e.g. architects, interior designers, landscape artists, molecular biologists, metallurgists, crystallographers, astrophysicists, nuclear physics, geneticists,


An integrated operations mission control center monitors the status of the Modules collective environment as well as customers. Dispatch communication links to park security and local services such as fire, police and medical are accommodated from this center as well. This is a high security limited access area and is protected accordingly.
 A mock-up operations center is utilized to train new park employees without compromising park guests safety.

A single ops seat may access one or more Modules in the network. It is possible for an op center station operator to override the control input of a POD for safety or augment the POD program to challenge the skills of the crew.

An alternative to the seat adapters is liquid-filled seats. The heavier of the two primary participant forces fluid (silicon?) from their seat to that of the lighter participant, decreasing the size of the heavier participant's seat and better accommodating their form, while increasing the size of the lighter participant's seat and better accommodating their form. The system would be sized to accommodate two light participants. Storage tanks in the seat assemblies would fill to accommodate two heavy participants. Additional fluid could be added to seat assemblies without passengers to insure that all seat assemblies weighed the same and had nearly the same center of gravity. All seats have leg as well as chest restraints for negative-g conditions.

Contact: Email, 661-305-9465

| W.T. Holmes | Innovations |