Virtual Visit with Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard
Stormtrooper inspired Google Cardboard from Verizon

So maybe just listening to music or changing your desktop/mobile wallpaper leaves something to be desired. After all, the luster of Walt Disney World is often total immersion in the stories around you. You may have seen the growing emergence of virtual reality headsets, but if you have then you’ve also seen the cost. Luckily, there are some reasonably effective and more wallet-friendly options. Mix these with some handy 360 degree videos, and you can have a pretty immersive WDW experience from wherever you happen to be.

I’m going to focus on what is probably the biggest player in this low-cost VR market: Google Cardboard. This headset works with your smartphone (iPhone included), and is quite literally made from cardboard. Prices start at only $15 and work their way up depending on what viewer catches your eye (bad pun of the week, sorry). You can even build one yourself if you’re so inclined. You can check out all the information on Google Cardboard here (including where to buy, how to build, what apps work with it, and more). Personally, I jumped on a (couple) free Star Wars: The Force Awakens promotional viewers that Verizon gave away in December 2015. You can land some of these on eBay right now if you’re so inclined.

So you have your Google Cardboard viewer. What now? Head to YouTube. It’s amazing that a smartphone, a $15 piece of cardboard, and free videos on YouTube are all you need to get this going. Searching for “disney 360 video” on YouTube will bring up a nice list of a wide range of Disney related videos that work great with Google Cardboard. You’ll even find full ride-throughs of attractions. You will want to search for these and start them prior to putting your phone in the Cardboard viewer. Once the video starts playing, you’ll see a little icon that looks like the one I’ve circled here:

How to start 360 video in YouTube.
Click on the icon I’ve circled in red to start the 360 degree view.

Once 360 degree video is started, your screen will change to this:

360 degree video in YouTube.
This is what the 360 degree viewing mode looks like.

You can now drop your phone in the Cardboard viewer and check it out. Notice you can look around and your perspective will follow your movements!  You are probably as close as you can possibly be to taking a virtual vacation. One caveat I would throw in is if 3D or 360 degree video tend to have negative side effects on you, it might be a good idea to skip this one. I even start to get a headache here and there when doing this, so watch out.

Have you tried this? Or maybe even with other virtual reality systems? Let me know what you think below!


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