Visit Hot Springs recently premiered the first tourism film in Arkansas using virtual reality (VR) technology to promote local Hot Springs attractions. “Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime” is a two-part virtual reality experience produced by Visit Hot Springs to be used primarily as a tool for promoting the city and its attractions to conventions and other groups. 

Hot Springs is the first city in Arkansas to use this cutting-edge technology to let potential visitors completely immerse themselves in the city, its environs and to see a sampling of the city’s attractions and facilities. VR will give potential visitors the feeling that they are actually there at Magic Springs or Garvan Gardens. It will allow them to walk around — virtually, of course — and ‘feel’ what it’s like to ‘be’ in Hot Springs. 

Virtual reality, according to Wikipedia, is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment, that incorporates mainly auditory and visual, but also other types of sensory feedback.  “This immersive environment can be similar to the real world or it can be fantastical, creating an experience that is not possible in ordinary physical reality,” the website says.

The VR film is composed of two segments:

Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime – Part One 

This is a fast-paced look at Hot Springs including virtual tours of Magic Springs, Oaklawn, The World Championship Running of The Tubs bathtub races, the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Adventureworks, the newly developed Northwoods mountain biking trail system and Lake Hamilton.

Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime – Part Two

This is a relaxing view of Bathhouse Row, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Lake Ouachita, Mid-America Science Museum and historic downtown Hot Springs.

Movie Poster

“Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime” uses Oculus Go headsets to immerse the viewers in the film’s experiences. While both films also could be screened on ordinary video screens, the immersive experience would be lacking.

Initially, the VR films will be used primarily as a marketing tool for Hot Springs by Visit Hot Springs representatives when setting up our booth at trade shows, convention marketing gatherings and other opportunities. As the VR headsets become more widespread the opportunities for public viewing will also increase. 

To create the virtual reality films, Visit Hot Springs worked with The Freelance Society, a pioneering VR production company that has created VR films for clients around the world. The VR film was created in an immersive documentary style approach to showcase the many experiences of Hot Springs National Park.

The entire project experience was an incredible journey discovering all of the things that make Hot Springs what it is. Every time we met someone they would tell us where their favorite spot was, or what they thought was the most scenic location. The answer was almost never the same. Now through emerging VR platforms and headsets, we can bring the diversity of those experiences to the world.

For more information contact Bill Solleder, marketing director for Visit Hot Springs, 501-321-2027.

Public screening dates

  • Free showings daily at the Hot Springs Visitors Center, 629 Central Avenue
  • October 19-27th – Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
  • November 8 - Diamond Lakes Region Hospitality Tourism Conference, DeGray Lake Resort

Take a virtual tour of Hot Springs here