The plot for Universal Orlando’s new roller coaster seems far-fetched, but there’s actually some real science to back it up.
Birds have four color cones, instead of three like humans, so they can experience a broader range of the light spectrum than us. It also means they’re sensitive to certain wavelengths of light. The designers of the VelociCoaster not only know this, but they’ve put real scientific research into just how the look of the coaster trains were designed. And, they inserted some of that backstory into the queue videos too.
The blue LED lights on the back headrests of all the seats on the VelociCoaster trains not only look really cool (especially at night,) but they serve a purpose in the attraction’s story.
And trust me, the story for this attraction is pretty simple. Jurassic World is opening a new ride called the VelociCoaster. And that ride is a roller coaster—and it’s located in the velociraptor paddock. That’s it!
To ensure our safety on the ride, InGen Security Technology has created a ride vehicle with special “infrared sensors” in the headrest. At least, that’s what Claire tells us in the briefing video before our ride begins.
The story for the ride has the special onboard lighting used to not only allow us access in and out of the paddock, as our trains are tracked by the lights, but they also help keep the raptors from attacking us. Similar lights are also placed around the paddock’s perimeter to keep the raptors inside.
In a recent interview, the ride’s show producer Shelby Honea said:
“There’s science backing up certain frequencies of light as prompting avoidance behavior in avian and reptile animals. The idea was these are not only the lights are talking to the paddock, so when you’re released into the paddock it knows where you are, it’s tracking you, but it’s that extra layer of safety prompting avoidance behavior from the raptors.”
While this is only hinted at in Claire’s description of the roller coaster trains at the end of the preshow video, you can also find more details for it earlier in the queue.
In a recent article I talked about hidden Easter eggs around the attraction, and one of them was was a brief video clip of an osprey in one of the queue videos.
Now, featuring an osprey somewhere on the ride is of course fitting, given its long history with the construction of VelociCoaster, but it has a reason for being here related to the story as well.
In a video playing on the wall, near the stables with the animatronic raptor figures, we can see a loop of the coaster layout. But at the end of the loop it briefly shows InGen files for the VelociCoaster’s development.
Two folders are opened (in the video,) one for “Device Engineering,” which plays on the top part of the screen, and one for “Avian Frequency Response,” which plays on the bottom.
The top part of the video appears to show the construction of special LED lighting, (specifically for use on the paddock fences in this case). The bottom part shows different fossils and images of birds, followed by some graphs showing different frequencies of light.
Using this research, it appears they’ve tested what frequencies of infrared light the velociraptors will stay away from, to know what the coaster trains will need to emit.
We get to see how the IR lights work during the final preshow queue video featuring Claire. A 3D rendering of the ride vehicle is shown, along with a diagram of how the IR lights are pulsed to help keep us safe.
Of course, none of this actually matters, as the raptors on the ride aren’t really real. But it’s still kind of fascinating how much thought was put into a small detail like this.
So, next time someone says, how could they let us go into the paddock with dangerous raptors like that? — Or, what’s stopping the raptors from jumping over the fence? — You tell them, “bird light science,” that’s how!
The Jurassic World VelociCoaster is now officially open at Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando. You can see our video below for more fun facts about this new thrill ride, or hear our full review of the new roller coaster on our latest podcast episode.
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