Epcot Center thrill ride is strictly a DIY affair

A new Disney World ride called the "Sum of All Thrills" lets participants design their own virtual roller coaster – and then take it for a test ride.

Scott Audette/Reuters
Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson and Walt Disney World Resort president Meg Crofton get ready to ride the Sum of all Thrills at Epcot Center in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

OK, so count us a little skeptical. Isn't the point of a roller coaster a generous helping of surprise, and an upside-down stomach? But try telling that to the innovative folks over at Epcot Center, who have today unveiled a "thrill ride" called "Sum of All Thrills," which allows users – with the help of a handy little computer tablet – to create their own theme park attraction.

"This is really the next generation – where there's a lot more personalization involved" in the amusement-park experience, Eric Goodman, Disney's lead project manager on the ride, told CNN. The key here is personalization: not only can users sketch out a bob sled ride or roller coaster or plane journey, but they can take a virtual spin on their creations.

The official sponsor of "Sum of All Thrills" is Raytheon, the defense and homeland security contractor, which sounds a little strange, until you start thinking in terms of opportunity. Raytheon, the Associated Press notes, has "jobs for those passionate about engineering, and would like to broaden the field." So a kid makes his own ride, and voila – a decade later he's designing warheads.

"Our aim is to show kids how math and engineering make the things they care about really come to life and happen," Kristin Hilf, vice president of Raytheon public affairs, explained to an AP reporter. (See user-generated video of "Sum of All Thrills" below.)

"Sum of All Thrills" opens in a kind of laboratory, where participants are handed a touchscreen computer, and told to let their imagination run free. Each creation is then stored on a magnetized card, and inserted into the ride part of the attraction. When the experience is over, Disney will even let you keep that magnetized card, which you can use to access a Raytheon educational site.

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