EtherQuest is an innovative, interactive walking dark ride that made its worldwide debut in March 2023 at Katmandu Park | Punta Cana, the Caribbean’s first world-class theme park.
The attraction is a symbiotic blend of advanced proprietary technology, immersive media, themed set design, and a compelling narrative. All ingredients entice guests to venture through Jadu, the House of Magic, where unpredictable realms and mysterious entities hide behind inconspicuous doorways. Jadu, an iconic setting in Katmandu’s canon, served as the headquarters for the Alliance of Explorer Mages, but judging by the current state of the foyer, no one has met here in quite some time. In fact, if the shredded wallpaper and splintered roof are any indication, something horrible happened here.
As guests queue for their tour, they’re introduced to Katmandu Village’s oldest storyteller, Hira, via an intercom. She explains the historical significance of this grand hall and preps the group on what to expect, which is good, harmless fun. However, a hint of trouble is brewing. During the stop in the
portrait gallery, Hira’s intercom crackles with static, and her voice is replaced by Kilgore Goode’s, the
hero of the Katmandu franchise. He informs guests that a powerful substance called EtherMetal has
been activated and tells everyone to head to the safe room. On Kilgore’s all clear, guests move back into the portrait gallery, but the scene is disturbing. It’s like an explosion went off. This begins the real adventure through Jadu!
In room after room, guests must stave off swarms of minions directed by relentless enemies who want to get their hands on the EtherMetal, and if that means harming a few innocents, so be it. Eventually, guests make their way to safety but not before enduring an epic battle.
At the conclusion, the group’s collective score is displayed with a corresponding ranking. Participants with a BeyondMe™ account will see their customized avatar on the board, too, serving as a gratifying reward for a successful mission.
EtherQuest seamlessly transitions guests from passive observation to active participation. The attraction includes an interactive shooting element where guests utilize custom blasters to defeat the nefarious protagonists who attack from all sides. Raytracing was utilized in the system, ensuring that when guests shoot, the environment is physically altered based on where they aim. Additionally, a 4.1 sound system was incorporated, so the audio originates from both the source and depth of the guests’ interactions.
The custom 3D positional tracking system uses a real-time engine to generate a visual extension of
virtual worlds without the need for 3D glasses. Perfectly placed projectors enable all twelve guests to get extremely close to the wall, enhancing the visual immersion and intimacy.
The EtherQuest team implemented Unreal Ndisplay technology, which elevated the attraction beyond virtual production and created a unique multi-player gaming environment. The Ndisplay solution also allows multiple machines to render a higher fidelity image on all four walls, producing a cohesive experience.
The physical spaces also required thoughtful engineering. The safe room’s floor rotates slowly enough to be unnoticeable. The end result is guests feel like they’re walking back into the room from which they came, even though they aren’t. Some rooms feature scrim areas with props staged behind glass walls. When the scrim is turned off, the wall becomes a solid projection surface, instantly transforming the scene.
To maintain perfect harmony between non-interactive and interactive media, the timing of the flow
from room to room had to be carefully calculated. This delicate balance required alignment between
audiovisual elements, spawning systems, and practical effects. The result is a well-choregraphed,
surprising, and engaging guest experience that stands tall in the competition for best immersive