Behind the doors of an unimposing storefront in Las Vegas lies a new kind of immersive attraction that allows tourists to explore places like Iceland and the American West without having to leave the Strip.

FlyOver Las Vegas calls itself a "flying theater" experience, in which riders are suspended in front of a 52-foot wraparound screen showing a first-person, high-speed aerial view of an iconic location, from the snowy peaks of the Rockies to the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago.

It's one of several attractions in Sin City, like the nearby Sphere, promoting a new kind of multi-sensory, deeply immersive experience that is helping to diversify Vegas away from the glimmering casinos for which it is known.

"We wanted to help you forget about the Las Vegas Strip, your luggage, your hotel, all of that," Reece Westerlund, general manager of FlyOver, told Newsweek. "It's not just to show you how beautiful the world is but to inspire you to go and see some of these places."

The Vegas location, on the site of a former movie theater, opened in 2021 as FlyOver's third, operated by parent company Pursuit. The project cost about $40 million, according to the company.

Customers are welcomed into a maze of flashing lights, mirrors and long hallways that add to the "sense of desensitization," according to Westerlund.

"It's almost hypnotizing you to forget about the outside world," she said.

A six-minute panoramic pre-show is projected onto wrap-screens programmed to interact with each other. A handful of locations are offered, including the flagship film "Wonders of the American West" and the newest, "Believe Chicago."

"Wonders of the American West" took over a year and more than 100 hours of flight time to produce. Westerlund said creative director Rick Rothschild always had a fascination with Peter Pan. The film is his interpretation of what it would be like to fly.

"He always had this wonder," Westerlund said. "There's always a moment in all of the films that is just like soaring. You see all of the clouds."

"Believe Chicago," a nine-minute experience that takes viewers in and around the Windy City, is FlyOver's most recent film. Westerlund said the team was able to use cutting edge drone technology, "taking it one step further."

"Chicago is such a great film," Westerlund said. "It's super thrilling...It felt like Spiderman."

FlyOver Las Vegas has two 40-seat theaters. There are two floors, each with two sets of pods where riders sit. The pods angle along with the screening, so riders essentially feel like they're suspended in the air.

"It really is very different from literally anything I have ever done," Westerlund said. "I grew up in southern California. I'm from San Diego. Disneyland and all of those attractions are not foreign to me."

Westerlund said FlyOver's technology is very similar to Soarin', a flight motion simulator at Disney World's EPCOT. FlyOver, however, is "just a little bit more advanced."

"We're a lot younger than they are so we have access to technology that wasn't available back then," she said. "It's so cool that this technology exists."

A lot of the tech had to be built from the ground up, Westerlund told Newsweek.

The seats are mesh, and the sound comes from speakers placed directly behind the guest's head, so it gives more of a "spatial recognition," Westerlund said.

Mist and wind are programmed to hit riders depending on what is being shown on screen. Location-specific scents are infused into the air, and not just the "pretty ones either," Westerlund said. Riders "flying" over an Icelandic volcano are greeted with the distinct smell of sulfur.

"We're trying to give you a sense of realism," Westerlund said. "It's a platform for us to connect folks to places that are almost bucket list trips that most people don't get the opportunity to go to."

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2024-06-18T18:03:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd