Theme Park Insider

Universal Studios Hollywood Shifts Up a Gear with 'Fast & Furious: Supercharged'

June 15, 2015, 12:01 AM · Universal Studios Hollywood wraps up the 2015 attraction debut season this month with "Fast & Furious: Supercharged," the latest addition to its historic Studio Tour.

Outside Fast & Furious
The entrance to "Fast & Furious: Supercharged."

Fast & Furious is the first new set piece on the tour since "King Kong 360/3D" debuted in 2010. Like Kong, Fast & Furious is a screen-based attraction, and you'll use the same stereoscopic 3D glasses for this experience that you'll wear for the Kong encounter earlier on the tour. Beyond that, though, F&F very much plays like "Kong 2.0," the next version of what Universal can do with 3D on its Studio Tour.

Fast & Furious' nearly-400-foot screens are about twice the length of Kong's, making them the world's longest 3D screens, according to the park. F&F also throws in a 200-foot-long motion-based platform, with additional wind and water effects, to simulate a 120-mph chase through downtown Los Angeles.

In getting us to that chase, though, Universal shifts the focus of the Studio Tour from deconstructing the movies to reconstructing one. Up until this point, most of the Studio Tour has shown you the stories behind the movies and television shows shot on Universal's sound stages and backlot. Even the other set pieces on the tour — Earthquake, Jaws, and Kong — finish with a "reveal," where the tour guide casts aside any pretense of the encounter being a real moment to talk about how the "movie magic" was created.

As the tour nears its end, we see Dominic Toretto's iconic 1970 Dodge Charger from the Fast & Furious films parked on the backlot. But instead of playing it off as a show car from the films, our guide treats plays it straight, calling in a suspicious vehicle to park security. Moments later, a security guard interrupts the tour to report that Toretto is on the backlot and the FBI is on its way to look for him. Instead of learning about the making of the Fast & Furious films, we've driven into one.

In a twist that will be familiar to anyone who's ridden Disney's "Star Tours: The Adventures Continue," Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) next appears on screen to tell us that he's taken control of the operation from the FBI since there's a "high value witness" on our tram who must be taken to safety. We're then driven into Sullivan's garage to hide from arch-villain Owen Shaw, who's after the witness.

Here, Fast & Furious exceeds Kong once again. Both attractions need a transition to allow our eyes to adjust from the daylight in which most riders experience the tour. But while Kong just leaves us in a darkened tunnel to watch a video introduction from director Peter Jackson, Fast & Furious drives us through a practical recreation of the crew's shop, allowing us to see familiar vehicles from the films, including Hobbs' assault truck.

First scene in Fast & Furious

Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) appear on-screen to welcome us to the shop, but what's that sound in the background, and those lights we see up on the wall? As we drive into the next room we discover that, yep, there's a dance party going on — one that's immediately broken up by the arrival of the FBI.

This second scene plays on a scrim using a Pepper's Ghost-style effect to give the illusion that the stars of the movies are in the same room with us. Universal uses the same sort of technique to bring the stars of the Harry Potter films into the queue on "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," but F&F employs it on a much larger and more impressive scale.

Stars of Fast & Furious

But, of course, Fast & Furious didn't become Universal's most valuable film franchise because of its stars standing around talking. It's time to "cut to the chase," and we soon do, driving onto that motion base and between those massive 3D screens for our climatic battle with Shaw (Luke Evans).

Unlike Kong, there's no obvious focal point here, as there are so many heroes to follow in this chase. Dom (Vin Diesel) is slamming his Charger into Shaw's truck on one side of the screen, while Roman's engaging Shaw's henchmen on the other. Soon, Roman and Letty are hooking our tram up to their trucks, and helicopters are firing missiles at us from both sides.

Like "Disneyland Forever," Fast & Furious immerses you in so much visual information, from so many angles, that you'll need to ride it multiple times to take in it all. (I rode once during a media preview on Friday afternoon, and again for an annual passholder preview on Saturday morning.)

If there's a knock to be made on this show, it's probably Universal's decision to set it during daytime. Yes, that provides continuity with the rest of the Studio Tour, which plays to almost all its guests during daylight hours. (Universal has started testing a nighttime version of the tour, which will have a limited run this summer.) But daylight is not always CGI's friend. On Fast & Furious: Supercharged, we're not watching a live-action stunt sequence shot in downtown LA — a 3D version of the sort of set piece we'd see in one of the films. We're watching a CGI version of a chase, which the actors played in front of a green screen.

Kong looks realistic because we're watching characters we know only as CGI creations, fighting in a dimly lit jungle setting. But a CGI version of the familiar real-life stars and cars of Fast & Furious, in bright daylight, takes us a step toward video game territory, visually. A darker, nighttime setting might have hidden some of CGI's limitations in creating more convincingly realistic imagery.

Ultimately, though, Fast & Furious: Supercharged delivers one helluva ride. Packed with fast cars, big wrecks, and even bigger explosions, this Fast & Furious delivers exactly what fans love about the movies that inspired it. Sure, it's fun to learn the stories behind the movies. But with Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Universal shows us that it's even more fun to become part of the story within one.

Here's one of the better on-ride videos of Fast & Furious: Supercharged that we've seen:

Universal Studios Hollywood will hold a red carpet ceremony for Fast & Furious: Supercharged on June 23, followed by its official opening to the public on June 25.

Take a Look Back at Everything Else We've Reviewed this Spring:

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Replies (21)

June 15, 2015 at 8:46 AM · Just when I was wondering when a review/feature for this attraction was going to appear, this story shows up! This experience sounds great and Im eagerly looking forward to seeing it myself in person. I was tempted to click on the in-ride video because I'm so curious, but I have a "rule"... Don't watch videos until I've actually experienced the attraction. Keeps it more mysterious and makes it more exciting if I don't know exactly whats going to happen when I eventually experience it.

June 15, 2015 at 9:45 AM · Yikes! Is that seriously what the ride footage looks like? That's got to be the cheapest looking animation we've seen from a Universal ride. You're probably right Robert, nighttime may have helped things look a little less video-game like.
June 15, 2015 at 12:34 PM · Did Industrial Light and Magic do the CGI effects? If not that may be the reason why it doesn't look as good as kong or transformers.
June 15, 2015 at 2:21 PM · The video was impressive. I thought the ride was creative and exciting. I can see why it should be done as a nighttime set piece. People usually dance at night so how did it suddenly become the day time. The action with Dom hanging from a helicopter is so over the top and ridiculous, but that's what I call movie magic. You can't tell me this movie is beyond real when the latest sequel is way beyond any logic of the past. It gotten so far away from the original movie that it's so what.
June 15, 2015 at 2:25 PM · I rode it this weekend & enjoyed it.

I agree that it surpasses Kong, and one the main reasons is that this actually has a narrative. While the story is, as Robert said, similar to Star Tours, it's the first attraction on the studio tour to have it's own "storyline". The only other "attractions" are given presentations before, yet they don't include a specific narrative.

The effects also look much better than the ride video, but that's to be expected.

Also, if you're a fan of the franchise (and even if you aren't), you'll most likely enjoy the ridiculous dialogue. It fits the tone of the movies perfectly (At one point a character is referred to, in a serious tone, as a stink pickle....Oh fast & the furious)


June 15, 2015 at 10:41 PM · Just to let you know as for the opening day the TV commercials today have now been saying it opens June 24 not the 25. The earlier commercials showed the 25 and same for the park posters still say the 25 but it looks to be now a day eariler.

Also a user commented that the effects would probably be better actually experience it. That's only true for the movements and maybe a little quality of the screens. Also there is water effects on this as you can see and before opening the experience they had them up even more. It's turned down since then but still a bit. Anyways there is so much going on on both sides of the screens different stuff going on on both screens it's hard to keep looking back and forth in the tram. Especially if your on the opposite side of the tram. The tram bars and people will be in the way making it hard to see. So the way I edited this video helps out so much seeing both sides at once.

Also since 1pm yesterday all Passholder preview reservations have been canceled and also for Today, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday have been canceled too due to too many complaints for this experience. One reason was there wasn't enough movements in the simulator. (Not sure upping that will help.) The people yesterday remaining in line were given tickets to come back. Opening the experience a day eariler now doesn't make sense if they still trying to work out bugs. After Passholder reservations will be technical rehearsals.

I personally think and one of the managers that used to work at Kings Island thought that a roller coaster like Backlot Stunt Coaster but updated too new technology with like the holograms like they have here ect would of been a much better choice. If they are worried about nose due to other residents near by which they have worried about they could of done it inside.

June 16, 2015 at 11:51 AM · Robert, I want to know your opinion of USH installing yet another 3D attraction. Don't you think we're way past the point of overkill?
June 16, 2015 at 3:08 PM · I don't have a problem with 3D. If the stories engage me, I enjoy them. I think Kong, Minion Mayhem and Fast & Furious have been great additions to the park, and I'm looking forward to Forbidden Journey.

That said, I wish that Universal had more space so that it could consider practical attractions that require a larger footprint.

June 16, 2015 at 6:20 PM · I would also like Universal to add non 3d based attractions, but I think for the studio tour, something like fast & furious is great.

For the stand alone attractions, practical would be ideal, but it's that space issue!

That being said, I like how USH isn't letting that slow down the progress of the park. In 5 years, they've added Kong 360, Transformers, Dispicable me / silly fun land, Springfield, & Fast & furious (and a night time tour).....then next year they have that other little property opening.


June 16, 2015 at 10:19 PM · I don't think space has anything to do with it. The original Kong attraction was all practical effects and didn't take more space than kong 3D. Disney's original fantasyland dark rides are better than Shrek, Minions and simpsons and are much smaller. Universal doesn't invest in AAs because it requires more money, more artistry, and more maintenance than a big movie screen with bouncy chairs.
June 16, 2015 at 10:41 PM · Whoa! You said Audio-Animatronics require more money and artistry. I can assure you making the visual effects on screen for attractions like Despicable Me, Transformers, Fast and Furious, and Kong require a ton of time, money, and TALENT. Have you ever stayed for the credits after a CGI-heavy movie? A ton of people work on creating these effects for a long time and that comes out to a pretty hefty bill $$$. It has everything to do with space and not with money as you say, let me assure you Vin Diesel and the Rock asked for a lot more money than what any animatronic did on one of those fifty-plus year old Fantasyland rides. More maintenance? The tram through the experience sits on a pretty long hydraulic base with precise movement, the ride also has water, wind, and other in house effects. As opposed some audio-animatronics, just move their head left to right and vice versa... I'm pretty sure these attractions require more maintenance and Universal isn't running away from it.

In Anaheim Disney had a space issue too. How to add a new family friendly ride to Paradise Pier in DCA? Toy Story Mania came to be, which has many screens, and it's an awesome ride even if it lacks a robot during the ride.

Now everybody has their own opinions on ride preference but I wouldn't say the Fantasyland rides are "better" than Despicable Me and Simpsons. That you personally prefer them well thats something else. I just don't know that many people that would prefer Pinocchio's Daring Journey or Snow White's Scary Adventures over Minions and the like. Even the TPI ratings agree there.

Space has everything to do with it!

June 17, 2015 at 3:59 AM · Nope...you claim space has everything to do with it but don't adress how any of my examples take more space than a similar 3D attraction. And I don't think TPI ratings count on a year old attraction vs a 60 year old one! I doubt your minions or simpsons will be around for 60 years to make an adequate comparison.

Regarding money, anything with smaller moving parts requires more and constant maintenance than a big simple hydraulic platform, and certainly more than a movie on a screen. That is why your car requires constant maintenance, but a dvd lasts a lifetime. Yes CGI is expensive, but this is 3 minutes of film not a 2 hour big budget production. You can't tell me any of universals 3D motion simulators come close in price to Radiator springs racers.

June 17, 2015 at 10:17 AM · Your examples before were the small Fantasyland dark rides which are similar in size. Seriously though these small scope practical effect rides wouldnt have the impact on attendance Universal would want like with their current rides. Despicable Me:Minion Mayhem had a larger impact on attendance than a ride like the Little Mermaid would have had. Judging from attendance figures Universal is gaining because of these attractions, people enjoy them!

In terms of TPI ratings, well lets compare Minion Mayhem with more modern dark rides... Monsters Inc and Little Mermaid at DCA. Despicable Me has a 9, the DCA dark rides have a 7... So your argument about when the ride opened is not valid.

Its a good thing you brought up Radiator Springs Racers, since it is a perfect example of space... A ride like that would never fit at Universal! I'm pretty sure Forbidden Journey is up there in price too. A big "simple" hyrdraulic platform is a massive understatement, anything I say about that will be mute judging from that comment.

Back to the issue of space, it really is that. People in the know understand that, google maps can provide visual evidence, and I just reiterated what Mr. Niles wrote earlier. He runs this great theme park website so he knows quite a bit about this stuff.

June 17, 2015 at 10:17 PM · Um alice in wonderland has a 9, peter pan and toad have 8 and they are all 50 years or older so you're point that those rides won't improve attendance is invalid. You brought up TPI ratings not me. Minions ride has improved Universals attendance because of the success and popularity of the film, not because its a TPI 9. If you want to argue that disney style dark rides somehow are a failure well good luck with that. I guess disneyland got to 16 million in attendance cause of their abundance of motion simulator rides.

The only point that I made was that a ride can be all practical effects and take smaller space than a motion simulator. That is a fact.

I have huge respect for Mr. Niles and love his website and articles. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with a great man,and in fact, a great man will welcome it.

June 18, 2015 at 3:14 PM · I never said the Disney rides were failures, where did you see that? Making untrue arguments is not a good way to debate you know.

Quite the contrary actually, I love Disney parks! Those parks are amazing.

June 19, 2015 at 3:11 AM · "Seriously though these small scope practical effect rides wouldnt have the impact on attendance Universal would want like with their current rides. Despicable Me:Minion Mayhem had a larger impact on attendance than a ride like the Little Mermaid would have had"
June 19, 2015 at 10:14 AM · USH had a significant jump in attendance last year largely because of Minion Mayhem. Just because a ride like Mermaid wouldnt have made that BIG of an impact doesnt make it a failure! Thats what I was saying and once again I like the Little Mermaid ride, I have nothing against Disney, theyre awesome so much so that Im literally wearing a Disney World shirt as I type this.

The original point about space concerns at the park has been made so it is what it is.

I'm so looking forward to trying out this new attraction at USH! As a Universal and Fast and Furious fan this has been highly anticipated. I also really like the exterior work done on the attraction, made to look like an old building... Well done.

June 19, 2015 at 12:52 PM · I think that Universal should stop putting in dining and start putting in more attractions, if you count the studio tour as an attraction, Universal has 6 rides. The Universal House of Horrors should have been turned into a ride I believe. I think that it should have been a Little Mermaid style ride possibly themed to Spiderman or Shrek or Jimmy Neutron or SOMETHING! Also I know people who won't go on the studio tour solely becuase of the motion simulators (Kong/Fast and Furios). However I like motion simulators so I am ok w/it. But a lot of people are not. But, on a positive note, bravo to Universal for the theming on that ride, it looks incredible. If I had one thing to change about that park it would be NO MORE DINING. They have the city walk, Simpsons Land, And all the other little restaurants.
June 19, 2015 at 12:53 PM · I think that Universal should stop putting in dining and start putting in more attractions, if you count the studio tour as an attraction, Universal has 6 rides. The Universal House of Horrors should have been turned into a ride I believe. I think that it should have been a Little Mermaid style ride possibly themed to Spiderman or Shrek or Jimmy Neutron or SOMETHING! Also I know people who won't go on the studio tour solely becuase of the motion simulators (Kong/Fast and Furios). However I like motion simulators so I am ok w/it. But a lot of people are not. But, on a positive note, bravo to Universal for the theming on that ride, it looks incredible. If I had one thing to change about that park it would be NO MORE DINING. They have the city walk, Simpsons Land, And all the other little restaurants.
June 19, 2015 at 1:49 PM · ^^^^
Kenny, I think USH was actually lacking in dining! (I wouldn't count Citywalk as an official part of the theme park dining).

Before Springfield, the park was severely lacking in "themed" dining. There were basic diner style options (with a generic "hollywood" theme) and that was pretty much it. And the Panda Express on the lower lot.

Springfield added a much need variety of eateries, in a fun theme. There was nothing like it before in the park.

Plus they've been adding attractions at an alarming rate.

As I mentioned before, within the last 5 years, king kong 360, transformers, dispicable me (and the playland next to it), fast & furious & potter next year.

I definitely give them kudos for what they're doing (and in the time period). I don't think adding Springfield dining options takes away anything, in fact it fleshes that area out (i.e., it's first official themed land).

June 20, 2015 at 11:52 AM · Fast and Furious being advertised as 120 mph, with a TV commercial showing a hand rail to hold on to, is a joke.

USH had a chance to make this right, they failed in my opinion. The attraction needs an overhaul already, the animation was quite possibly the worst I have ever seen.

Advertise it for what it is, a new ending to the studio tour, that's it! People will be let down when they realize what this is, not a strong attraction like they are making it seem.

It also doesn't help that USH is not letting the local annual passholders renew past tier passes with annual parking and now labeling them season passes. USH may have a good year coming, but when the market thins out after potter you better have a plan ready to build relationships with locals again.

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