If you look now, at photos and videos of the Future Flight Drop Tower at Super Bowl LIVE, you see a finished product. All shiny and new, ready to fly you and your friends to Mars. But, it was once no more than a thought. Tangible objects all begin as mere threads of imagination. Everything begins with an idea. Genius inventions, evil schemes, and remarkable Virtual Reality thrill rides alike.
If you really want to know the secrets of Future Flight’s beginnings, I recommend tracking down Bob Allen, IDEAS’ Chief Storyteller. He will tell you that this story began, as so many do, with a simple conversation. Bob, and his creative partner Doug May, were talking about what might make a good attraction for Super Bowl LIVE. They needed something with a “WOW Factor”. They wanted something new, something extraordinary. Ziplines? Toboggan Runs? Rock Climbing Walls? All. Been. Done. Then somebody suggested a Drop Tower. The Drop Tower idea spiraled, it had to be larger than life, something no one had ever seen before, beyond reality, and it had to tell a story. The obvious choice was Virtual Reality. Once VR was suggested it all began to fall into place. The next step was to talk to IDEAS’ Sr. Producer, Charles Moore. He brought the knowledge necessary to actually research drop towers that might work with a VR interface, and maybe even figure out how to MAKE a VR interface. So a VR drop tower is exciting and all, but it still gets better.
This ride couldn’t just be some generic thrill. No, remember, it had to tie in to the story of its location and deliver on a Houston-specific message so that the WOW wasn’t just a thrill, but a key part of the unique story-and something that raised the bar forever on Super Bowl fan festivals. IDEAS’ VP of Experience Design, Duncan Kennedy, stepped in for this challenge. (Now here’s where the Mars comes in.) The company has worked with NASA in the past, and it was some of the NASA folks at Johnson Space Center who first introduced them to the Houston Host Committee. Duncan and Bob both just happen to be big space geeks, and have naturally loved the space related work they’ve done with NASA in the past. So, of course, it didn’t take long for Duncan to come up with a logline that has stood since at the heart of the project:
“Only Houston could bring a celebration of the genius, courage, adventure and heroism of America’s NASA manned space program to the Super Bowl. Guests will experience an immersive “Flight To The Future”…combining virtual reality and physical ride technologies for a memorable and iconic WOW.”
The rest, was just figuring out how to make it happen. Oh, and the small matter of getting hired, of course. But, once that was taken care of, the course was set and the long and exciting journey to the Red Planet had begun.