By Ken Carter
Guests at Wisconsin’s Wilderness Resort do not need to board a plane to experience the unique aerial views of US National Parks, national landmarks, and even the Wisconsin Dells. All they must do is board the new FlyRide “Take Flight” aerial adventure ride. Developed by SimEx-Iwerks, the ride uses four Christie D4K40-RGB pure laser projectors with Christie Mystique, a camera-based multi-projector alignment and blending system.
The Wilderness Resort consists of over 600 wooded acres in Wisconsin Dells and is home to Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort. Alongside it’s indoor and outdoor waterparks, golf courses, arcade, and ropes course, is their newest attraction, “Take Flight”, which opened in September 2020.
“Take Flight” is a new $10 million attraction, which is now open to the public, is a FlyRide that takes up to 60 participants on an aerial Adventure. The FlyRide has 12 different ride vehicles, which each seat five guests, located on three different stories. Once participants are buckled into their seats, the doors to the theater swiftly rise and the seats surge forward, leaving guests feet dangling as they stare at an enormous 65 x 47 feet, domed movie screen. Artificial scents, wind and mist add to the sensation of flying.
To help create this sense of immersion, SimEx-Iwerks, which specializes in branded cinematic experiences, selected four Christie D4K40–RGB pure laser projectors with Christie Mystique- Large Scale Experience (LSE) Edition. Brian Ferguson, senior vice-president, Technology and Operations, SimEx-Iwerks, noted that RGB pure laser was selected because “it offers a sharper image and better color.”
Christie D4K40-RGB pure laser projectors feature a compact, all-in-one design with 45,000 lumens and 4K resolution, and produce greater than 95-percent of the Rec.2020 color space for rich, vibrant visuals.
Says Doug Wildeboer, A/V engineering manager, SimEx-Iwerks, “We needed projectors that we could orient into abnormal positions to get the proper coverage in the three-dimensional dome. We needed to angle them down and on their sides. It was absolutely required, and the project would not have been possible with any projector that wasn’t omnidirectional.”
SimEx-Iwerks used Christie Mystique – LSE (Large Scale Experience) Edition, a multi-camera-based, automated, multi-projector alignment and blending solution, to ensure that the projectors remained aligned and the image perfect. The projected screens or surfaces can be flat, curved, custom-shaped, or domes and the system is ideal for applications like dark theme park rides, flying attractions, dome theaters, as well as 3D projection mapping onto buildings or objects.
Says Wildeboer, “One of the decisions we’ve made as a company is to deploy systems that offer autocalibration, so if the whole system is moved it can be put back in place. The operator can run the routine and lock the system back into the same condition as when we left it.”
“At Wilderness Resort, we have a very complex screen. It’s a partial dome screen, and instead of relying on our eyes to try to align the system, Mystique is incredible at being able to do that by the numbers,” says Wildeboer. “We have LED markers around the edge of the screen, so if a camera is jarred, the markers will light up and let the system know exactly where the screen is. That removes operator error or intervention with recalibrating the system.”
To ensure the best possible experience, routine scheduled recalibration is required, usually mapping multiple projectors onto a complex screen shape or surface can take an expert several hours. Using the Christie Mystique system, the recalibration process can be done in about 10 minutes with a single button press.
“We’re thrilled to have worked with SimEx-Iwerks on another successful FlyRide,” says Doug Boyer, senior account manager, Entertainment, Christie. “SimEx-Iwerks is known for creating world-class immersive attractions, and “Take Flight” is no exception.”
Because of the positive response to the new attraction, “Take Flight” has even added new videos for their guests to dip, dive, and soar into the action. SimEx-Iwerks also partnered with MacGillivray Freeman Films to develop a catalog of immersive flying films. “We’re helping SimEx-Iwerks serve their clients in creating bespoke films that they want for their venues,” says MacGillivray.
In addition to the “Take Flight” attraction at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells,SimEX-Iwerks has opened a second FlyRide Theater attraction at Beyond the Lens in Branson, Missouri.
The Attraction at Beyond the Lens is a $8 million*, 40-seat FlyRide theater that was constructed inside of a retrofitted, 2,500-seat live performance venue. Both venues are working with SimEX-Iwerks on additional flying experiences.