The senior creative leader for Universal Studios' theme parks said out loud at the IAAPA Expo today what many fans have been saying about Universal Studios Florida's Fast & Furious attraction.
The moment came near the end of Bob Rogers' annual Legends panel, which this year celebrated Islands of Adventure's The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. (Look for our coverage later tonight. Update: Here it is.) When Rogers asked each panelist to name their biggest mistake - and how they got out of it - Thierry Coup, Senior VP and Chief Creative Officer at Universal Creative, paused for a long moment before offering his answer.
"I wish I had [pause] stopped [pause] our senior management from building the Fast & Furious attraction."
After the room of several hundred expo attendees erupted in laughter, whistles and applause, Coup added, "It's a good attraction, but it's not what it should be."
Fast & Furious Supercharged began as the final element on Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour. The encounter originally was set up by FBI agents interrupting the tour's video to tell riders to be on the look out for Fast & Furious character Dominic Toretto, who was believed to be hiding in the area. The set-up provided an intriguing transition for visitors from watching and learning how movies are made into participating in a movie moment themselves.
The Fast & Furious IP also includes many people of color in its cast, creating representation not always found in major theme park attractions. The fresh focus and look of the encounter, coupled with the fact that it gave the Studio Tour a high-energy finale that it long had lacked, helped make Fast & Furious Supercharged a hit in southern California.
But when Universal brought the attraction to Florida to replace Disaster! (which had replaced the Earthquake encounter previously duped from Hollywood's Studio Tour), it bombed. Robbed of the context that helped make the encounter work in Hollywood, Orlando-area fans routinely trashed Fast & Furious: Supercharged, which remains one of lowest-rated - if not the worst-rated - attraction among visitors to Universal Orlando.
But theme park managers typically don't throw their attractions under the [party] bus like Coup did today. I suspect that will entice many theme park fans to intensify speculation that Fast & Furious Supercharged might be speeding toward the next available exit.
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