Space Fantasy at Universal Studios Japan

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Space Fantasy ride at Universal Studios JapanSpace Fantasy The Ride is one of the top attractions at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. It’s an interior spinning roller coaster made up of 19 solar shuttles, each of which in turn is made up of four two-passenger vehicles. The attraction makes use of a dizzying array of technology, including 3D cameras, scanning lasers, giant video walls for projections, fiber optics and much more.

Your journey begins as you wait in the queue. You meet the characters that will form the storyline of your trip. Your companion on the journey is G-Bot, a talking communications satellite. There’s also the reigning princess of the solar system, Cosmia, and all of the playful Sun Fairies. Cosmia gives riders a mission to accomplish, which is to gather positive energy in order to save planet earth by re-energizing the failing sun.Concept art of Space Fantasy at Universal Studios Japan

It is also in the pre-ride area that users are introduced to the real technological innovation of this ride – interactivity made possible using 3D cameras. The 3D cameras can detect motion so that users are able to interact with content, manipulating what’s on the surrounding multi-media screens. The effect is a deeper immersion in the storyline and engagement with the story’s characters than would otherwise be possible.

This is where would-be riders meet the Sun Fairies, who leap, soar, tumble and scatter in response to audience movements. The technical wizardry provided by GestureTek to pull this off is impressive. It includes 85-foot long harmony walls for displaying the output of 13 different projection systems that are tied in to 22 different 3D cameras. Integrated with 16 rack-mounted quad-core computers, the system can pick up the movements of up to 66 guests and their 132 hands. The same technology is utilized during the ride itself.Exterior view of Space Fantasy at Universal Studios Japan

After riders get into their solar shuttles, they lift off from Earth and are propelled through dazzling, colorful vistas. Hurtling through open space, video walls create an expanse of star fields, dust clouds, shooting stars, nebulae and more. You’ll zoom by planets, getting up close and personal with Saturn and its rings as well as comets. Then you must dodge through a dangerous field of asteroids blocking your way.

These objects seem both startlingly real and close enough to touch. Eventually you enter a 98-foot in-ride tunnel where the interactive multi-media experience has riders working together to gather the Stardust Clouds from the LED panels that coat the tunnel’s interior. It’s a one-of-a-kind feature you won’t find in other coaster-ride attractions. The climax of the ride has your team plunging directly into the heart of the sun to deliver the energy that will save it.Space Fantasy at Universal Studios Japan

If Space Fantasy sounds like an incredible ride to you, you’re not alone. It won an outstanding Achievement award from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) in 2011. Not only will riders get the interactive thrill of a lifetime, they’ll exit the ride feeling like heroes who helped save the sun and the earth. Concept art of Space FantasyImage sources: about.com, panoramio.com, usj.co.jp, tumblr.com

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