I was in awe the first time I stepped into CircuMotion® Theater. In my 30 years of living and breathing everything theme parks, I’d never seen anything like it. It felt like I had just discovered the 8th wonder of the world. I made my way into the center of the massive saucer platform, and I was entranced as I sat down in one of the many dozens of seats. I looked up in astonishment as I was encased by an enormous 360-degree silver dome. I’m not sure how many times that day I mouthed to myself “this is insane.” This was back in April of 2016, and I had just arrived in Dubai a few hours before. I was so eager to get to work that I spent the entire plane ride finishing up the programming for custom software that would allow me to interface with CircuMotion® Theater more easily. This was two weeks away from the attraction’s opening. How did we get here? How did Falcon’s pull off creating this rare and unrivaled ride vehicle? Let's start with the basics.
Hulk: Epsilon Base 3D is a media-based attraction that is featured in the MARVEL zone at IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai. The immersive story pits The Incredible Hulk against Leader, an evil, formidable villain. With the help of Hulk and Iron Man, guests must escape with Epsilon Base’s commander, General Ross, and his experimental vehicle called the IRIS, which is the CircuMotion® ride. The attraction system is a first-of-its-kind Falcon’s Licensing product that combines multiple cutting-edge technologies into one incredible package. Its immense 100-seat motion platform has the power to pitch, roll, yaw, and heave effortlessly. The platform’s motion is perfectly synchronized with the media content, which is displayed on a 60-foot diameter stereoscopic dome projection screen. This ride system was a perfect match for IMG Worlds of Adventure’s Hulk experience.
CircuMotion® Theater is the brainchild of Cecil D. Magpuri, CEO of Falcon’s Beyond Global™. It started as a dream more than 20 years ago and has now evolved into a full-fledged product. When the opportunity arose to create a Hulk attraction for IMG Worlds of Adventure, Falcon’s instantly knew that CircuMotion® Theater was the right solution.
When innovation is afoot, tribulation is always nearby. Creating a first-of-its-kind ride system had its challenges, but they were met with even more determined problem solvers. First came construction. The CircuMotion® system is heavy, over 40 tons. The amount of force needed to move something this size and weight, including guests, is significant, but with the help of counterweights, strong motors, and intelligent engineering, it barely breaks a sweat.
While construction was occurring, Falcon’s creative and media development teams were hard at work finalizing the story of Hulk: Epsilon Base 3D. After that was done, it was time to start 3D modeling characters and environments, animating those rigged characters, and rendering the final frames. Because CircuMotion® Theater lives inside of a dome, the virtual camera in the media renders the world like a panoramic, so guests can see all around them. It was therefore imperative that the story allowed for something interesting to be happening in all directions. For example, while Hulk is smashing through walls on one side, Iron Man is shooting mechs on the opposite side. This means guests will have a different experience every time they ride, depending on where they sit. As the media was being rendered, camera data was converted into machine code so CircuMotion® Theater’s movements could more closely match the media.
Custom software was created specifically for this ride system to allow for precise motion-base programing. This gave Falcon’s the ability to artistically animate the motion profile onsite while riding. Everything that happens to the IRIS in the media is replicated in CircuMotion® Theater. The synchronization between the media and the motion base allows guests to really feel immersed. Hulk landing on the IRIS causes the CircuMotion® platform to sway towards him as he hangs on. Every time a missile hits the IRIS, the CircuMotion® platform jerks away, replicating the movement a flying saucer would make if it was hit by something with mass. As the IRIS flies through Epsilon Base, the CircuMotion® platform replicates those movements seamlessly, and it really feels like you’re flying. Of course, to top it all off, the massive stereoscopic dome content allows guests to visually feel the scale of Hulk and Epsilon Base. Everything just feels right.
We work on a lot of cool stuff here at Falcon’s, but CircuMotion® Theater is without a doubt one of the coolest projects I have personally worked on. It's a unique product that is unmatched in the industry. I’m eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to work on a CircumMotion® Theater project again. I’ve never ridden anything like it, and I can assure you it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
Senior Interactive Designer