Togo: The Trail of Mercy is a fully fledged theme park experience that includes a fully immersive ride queue that transports guests to Nome, Alaska during the diphtheria outbreak of 1925 and an automated virtual reality ride that brings guests on a very exciting and dangerous trip to deliver the anti-toxin to the sick children. On the ride, guests meet Togo, the unsung hero of the Nome Serum Run, and experience his story.
The ride fast forwards to the guests on their way back to Nome with the medicine in hand. The dogs stop in a forest clearing to rest. As they rest you hear Togo at the lead start to growl towards the surrounding trees. There are faint footsteps, sticks and deep snow cracking under the weight of something large. Then there is silence. Suddenly Togo starts to bark as the other dogs start to stand their ground. Out of the blinding snow comes a Huge Alaskan brown bear. As it approaches the sled it roars throwing its claw forward at the riders. The Bear then stands up on two legs now towering more than 10 feet tall. As it is about to destroy the sled and the riders Togo leaps in as if from nowhere and bites onto the bear’s flesh. stunned the bear rears back and loses its balance finally crashing to the ground. Togo quickly runs back to the front of the dog team and begins to lead the team and the riders away. The bear now angry gets up as the sled takes off. Riders then experience a thrilling high-speed chase through the Alaskan forest dodging trees and going over rocks and snow drifts. The bear gains speed and is in the trees to the side of the sled. The only way to escape is to go across the frozen pass of Norton Sound. The team fearlessly rushes out onto the ice followed by the bear. As both the bear and team step on the ice you start to hear it rumble below you. Then finally the ice starts to break below you. Guests can feel the sled falling and bumping off of the breaking ice slabs. Finally, the ice gives behind the team and the bear falls into the icy water. The team sees the shore and bolts towards it. Just in time, of course, the riders and the dog team make it to shore just in time. They go up the steep hill on the other side, going up past the snow, fog, and wind. They emerge on top of the mountain to clear night sky. Above you can see the Northern lights dancing in the sky while you listen to the distant sounds of the Alaskan wilderness. At the top Gunner and Balto are waiting for you. Gunner takes the medicine off your sled and puts it on his. He then nods to you and pats Togo on the head and yells mush as their team races off towards Nome, its lights twinkling in the distance. Guests then have a few more seconds to take in their world as it fades to black.
The biggest challenge we had in front of us was time. I came on board the project during the last 72 hours. I looked at the progress of the project and knew that it would be very difficult to complete it before the scheduled opening. Still, two programmers took the challenge even though we had just finished a huge project with multiple sleepless nights. The ride required 4 Occulus Rift, but they had only one development computer. There was a lot of work left with just two people working on it. The computers had to borrowed from people for variable durations, so for every new system, we had to set up the Occulus as they came. Considering all these issues, the opening date was shifted to the next day to allow us some more time to fix the issues in the experience.