In entertainment for kids and families themed amusement parks are one of the most potentially profitable business but have a defect: the high fixed and variable costs mean that to be really profitable to be visited by millions of visitors each year, with all the problems of overcrowding and delays in the use of the individual attractions, often leading.
Now Landmark Entertainment, which already manages some attractions in Universal Studios Hollywood, Warner Bros and Paramount Parks as well as in some Las Vegas’ hotels and casinos like Hilton, The Venetian and Caesars Palace, thought the solution would be to make sure you can explore the attractions without leaving your home. How? Through virtual reality (VR) devices. For this the company has already raised new capital for VR developing and it plans to develop a series of projects over the next three years.
In a recent press release Tony Christopher, Landmark Entertainment’s Founder and Ceo, stressed how “people like that all their senses are stimulated” but that so far the idea of using scents and mobile seats together with 3D projectors to create “4D or 5D” attractions has been the “hardest way” to realize this kind of entertainment.
So when the subject of virtual reality came back strongly in the newspapers as well as to excite private investors, Christopher realized it was the right time to try to do something different. at the beginning of last year Landmark Entertainment has started to evaluate the idea of developing a virtual amusement park and in just three months managed to get initial funding from a group of Chinese investors.
When Facebook bought Oculus Rift Landmark Entertainment understood to be on the right track. The first project which should see the light, L.I.V.E. (Landmark Interactive Virtual Experience), seems a bridge between the attractions so far Landmark Entertainment created and managed, and the future virtual amusement park. They will be “mixed reality” centers, to open in China (and maybe in the future in other Countries) where visitors can explore the attractions and shops but even, thanks to VR tools, virtual zoos, aquariums, digital art galleries and museums. The building of the first of these centers will begin in the next 12-18 months.
Christopher in the press release goes further and says that in the future Landmark Entertainment is going to creat virtual parks which can be visited through VR devices by anyone in the world without the need to physically move from their own home and that the next step will be to be able to launch a kind of “daily utility”, virtual entertainment experience that people could wish to have access every day.
Then if this will be more like Linden Lab’s Project Sansar rather than Sword Art Online is hard to understand at the moment, especially since until 2018 we will not see it on the market. A date decided not by chance, given that Christopher seems to believe that VR devices like Oculus Rift, whose retail version should debut as early as next year (possibly allowing Linden Lab to open the public beta of Project Sansar in a few months later), will need at least a couple of years before becoming a product that can be “mass market”.
For Landmark Entertainment virtual reality it is thus at the same time an opportunity to be exploited now that is “hot” but also a way to diversify its own business and not to depend so closely on the results of theme parks and attractions in the hotels and casinos. But in order to succeed the numbers can not be limited to those of Second Life. With those numbers only Linden Lab is able to earn and Christopher and his Chinese investors not interested in losing some.