Six Flags CEO: We found a way to refresh rides, save money

Six Flags opens VR coasters

As Americans pack their bags for Memorial Day weekend, thrill seekers may be headed to Six Flags to try out a virtual reality roller coaster.

John Duffey, CEO of Six Flags Entertainment, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that the trend of consumers spending more on experiences than tangible purchases is something the company has benefited from tremendously. The stock is up more than 20 percent in the last year.

Six Flags' new virtual-reality roller coasters will provide a more immersive experience for riders, Duffey said, noting that riders can experience what it's like to be a co-pilot in an galactic battle, fighting off an alien invasion.

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But besides providing a new kind of experience, virtual reality will increase the company's ability to refresh its older, less trafficked rides.

"That's the beauty about virtual reality. We can take an older ride which may not get the throughput it once did and transform it into a great new experience," Duffey said.

Besides spreading out the crowds, being able to repurpose an older ride is financially advantageous compared to the costs of building a new attraction.

"A roller coaster can run anywhere from $15 million to $20 million, but VR is a fraction of the cost. [With] less than $1 million, we can actually add VR to one of our existing roller coasters," Duffey said.