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Our reporter tries the XD Dark Ride at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Shoot the geek! Reporter tests Coney’s new high-tech, laser-gun ride

Stick em up: The new “seven dimension” ride has you fighting off post-apocalyptic road warriors and zombies with your trusty pistol.
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It’s a blast from the future!

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park added a futuristic new “seven-dimension” shoot-em-up attraction called the XD Dark Ride that puts funhouse fans right in the middle of a battle against zombies and post-apocalyptic road warriors. Adrenaline junkies wear 3D glasses, the seats shake, and a serious surround-sound system gives the impression you’re in the midst of the action. The new thrill is a peek into the future of amusement parks, where virtual reality will rival the staple roller coaster, according to an operator.

“It’s the way the future is going — people are more into virtual reality and this is the best I’ve seen in any amusement park that has virtual reality,” said park manager DJ Vourderis.

Sure, its virtual reality, but riders say the thrill is real.

“That right there, that was amazing — the graphics, the air conditioning, the seats moving around. Everything,” said Manhattanite John Rosa, who rode with his daughter Haylee.

The ride, which resembles a shipping container from outside, is a 3D-movie theater with chairs that bump, sway, and tilt with the action — for example, when your on-screen car takes a plunge off a cliff after plowing into a bunch of zombies, the seats tip forward.

Each player gets a laser gun to shoot baddies, and this season, riders can choose to battle the undead or “Mad Max”-esque, post-apocalyptic “road fighters.”

It’s not just a battle for survival either — participants are vying against one another to top the ride’s leaderboard.

This reporter was not sure what to expect from the ride — it’s not like any of the other classic rides at the park, and frankly I was skeptical that a “virtual” ride would be as entertaining as the nearby Spook-a-Rama and Wonder Wheel.

I strapped in for a battle against the zombies first and was genuinely surprised at the immersive experience — there were plenty of scary, make-you-jump moments, and the gyroscopic seats moved perfectly with the action on screen.

The battle against the “road fighters” was just as good. I was bested by a younger gunslinger on the leaderboard, but still had a good time zapping the mohawked baddies off cars they seemingly hijacked from 1985’s “Beyond Thunderdome.”

Both rides involved a lot of driving, which was a good opportunity to show off the 3D technology. The air-conditioned theater was a nice respite from the 90-degree summer heat outside, too.

Vourderis, whose grandfather Deno is the park’s namesake, tried the ride at an amusement trade show earlier this year and decided he had to have it for the park.

He configured it with 16 seats and said he may change the movies next season — or add more. The makers of the ride currently offer seven different movies, including a battle against a giant monster and against cartoonish pirates.

“XD Dark Ride” at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park [3059 Denos Vourderis Pl. near Surf Avenue in Coney Island, www.wonderwheel.com, (718) 372–2592]. 11 am–10 pm. $8.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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