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Thorpe Park's virtual-reality ride combines ghost stories with magical illusions

A new "mind-bending" thrill ride coming to a United Kingdom theme park combines magic illusions, virtual reality, 4-D video, CGI footage, live action and special effects.

Set to debut May 6, the Ghost Train virtual-reality dark ride at Thorpe Park will take visitors on a 13-minute journey with 12 different story lines and two possible endings.

The new Thorpe Park attraction has been curated by U.K. mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown, who has appeared in a number of television specials and stage shows in England over the past decade.

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FOR THE RECORD

June 6, 8:19 a.m.: A quote in this article by mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown lacked proper attribution. The quotation came from a public relations video.

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Billed as the world’s only fully immersive psychological attraction, the Ghost Train attraction has been described by Brown as a journey through fear that will leave visitors questioning where perception ends and reality begins.

"It should be terrifying, heart-stopping, thrilling and exciting," Brown said. "I think it represents the future of what theme parks will be."

Riders will board a 65-foot-long Victorian train carriage suspended by chains 10 feet in the air inside a dilapidated warehouse. Once on board, the 60 passengers will wear HTC Vive virtual-reality headsets.

Brown has been careful to reveal very little about the ride’s back story and has asked visitors not to spoil the experience for the uninitiated. The journey takes place on a suspended transit line with one-way service to Thorpe Junction and no return trains.

Teaser videos make mention of explosion effects and temperature changes while showing creepy dolls riding on an escalator in a London Underground station and computer generated imagery of a homeless panhandler.

The new attraction replaces a carousel and arena in The Island section of the theme park, located 25 miles southwest of London.

Ghost Train joins a number of virtual-reality attractions debuting at theme parks this year. In April, the U.K.’s Alton Towers will transform an existing coaster into the Galactica virtual-reality experience with an outer space overlay. Canada's Wonderland amusement park outside Toronto will add VR headsets to the Thunder Run roller coaster this summer. German-based Mack Rides expects to add VR headsets to nine coasters in 2016 and is working with several intellectual property holders on branded VR ride experiences.

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UPDATES

June 6:  A "For the record" has been added to this article.

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