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Aliens on the Vegas Strip? Virtual reality added to the Big Apple coaster

The New York-New York Hotel & Casino will add a virtual reality experience to the Big Apple roller coaster, taking riders on an aerial adventure through the Nevada desert and over the Las Vegas Strip. 

The new up-charge virtual reality experience, set to open Feb. 7, combines make-believe computer-animated visuals with the real-world twists, drops and G-forces of a 67-mph coaster.  

The 3 1/2-minute virtual reality experience will feature 3D footage in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. The Big Apple coaster trains and track will be equipped with sensors that synchronize the visuals with the ride to reduce the chances of motion sickness while wearing the virtual reality headset.  

Germany-based VR Coasters, which designed the experience, has equipped more than 30 theme parks worldwide with virtual reality technology, including Six Flags, Cedar Fair and Legoland parks.  

The 4,777-foot-long ride is being billed as the longest coaster in the world equipped with virtual reality.  

The new VR backstory begins in a secret research laboratory in the Nevada desert where government scientists study alien life forms. After boarding the coaster train, riders are charged with capturing an escaped alien creature before he and his minions destroy the Las Vegas Strip.  

A four-legged, four-armed, four-eyed spindly green creature leads riders up a craggy desertscape as the coaster train ascends the lift hill.  

At the 203-foot precipice, long-buried extraterrestrial flying robots burst out of the jagged cliffs, attach a tow line to the coaster and pull riders on an aerial journey across the desert.  

Before long, riders reach the Vegas Strip where other alien ships are attacking the city. The VR coaster banks past Mandalay Bay, loops over the Luxor sphinx, flies past the Excalibur castle and dives down the side of New York-New York’s version of the Chrysler building.  

A military helicopter rescues the riders from the alien ship, tugging the coaster by another tow cable past the Bellagio fountains, over the erupting Mirage volcano and through a keyhole in the MGM marquee sign.  

During the finale, a helicopter squadron fires missiles at the alien ship, which collapses at Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. The VR coaster ride comes to an end in the middle of the heavily damaged Vegas Strip with a view of flapping American flags flanking the Statue of Liberty in front of the New York-New York Casino.  

The VR experience does a fairly accurate job of rendering the Vegas Strip, but non-MGM properties get short shrift. The Tropicana gets turned into a parking lot and the mock Eiffel Tower is erased from the Strip. An out-of-place Vegas Vic neon sign that belongs in downtown Vegas shows up near McCarran International Airport.  

The Big Apple roller coaster at New York-New York Hotel & Casino costs $20 with the virtual reality experience. You can still ride the coaster without the VR headset for $15.

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