It's one thing to wave at a superhero at a California theme park. It’s quite another to step into his world, or at least a virtual version. Disneyland Resort has long embraced the idea of virtual reality—thanks to beloved simulator rides like Tomorrowland’s Star Tours and Disney California Adventure Park’s Soarin’ Around the World—while Universal Studios Hollywood takes you behind the screen in simulator rides such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, King Kong 360 3D, and The Simpsons Ride.
Go to one of these new immersive experiences—all found at Southern California theme parks—to see virtual reality taken to the next level.
VR Showdown in Ghost Town, Knott's Berry Farm
This virtual experience at the Buena Park theme park is not a ride, but rather a game in the Knott’s Boardwalk Arcade. Armed with wireless headsets and “blasters,” you score points against other players in a parallel universe of the theme park’s wild-west-style Ghost Town. Know before you go: Must be 13 to play; costs $6 beyond park admission.
Star Wars: Secret Empire, Downtown Disney
At virtual reality attraction The Void—not far from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in the Downtown Disney District—put on a VR helmet and join a team of four to track down Imperial intelligence, battling stormtroopers and other obstacles along the way. Know before you go: This attraction is only for Jedi types who are at least 10 years of age and 48 inches tall.
DC Heroes Drop of Doom, Magic Mountain
The Los Angeles County park has added a VR element to its already-pretty-thrilling drop ride, which travels at up to 85 mph. Today, you’ll climb the 400-foot tower thanks to the levitating powers of a virtual Lex Luthor, and you’ll watch him, Wonder Woman, and Superman all battle mid-air, right before chaos ensues (of course) and you drop. Know before you go: The ride has a height minimum of 48 inches, and a VR age minimum of 13.
Sea at Night, LEGOLAND California
This new attraction at LEGOLAND’s SEA LIFE Aquarium lets you experience a natural phenomenon that only happens every now and then at the nearby Carlsbad beaches: bioluminescence, when the ocean waves seem to glow in the dark. Sea at Night lets you jump and “splash” into simulated bioluminescent waves that react to your footsteps. The aquarium’s new Shark Mission area, meanwhile, invites you to get up close to sharks by way of giant touch screens. Know before you go: Admission to SEA LIFE is included in LEGOLAND’s Play Pass, Resort Hopper, or SEA LIFE Hopper tickets.