When a theme park is part of a filmmakers’ universe – as is Universal Studios Florida – then it’s only natural that new attractions are based on popular movies.
One of the ultimate film adventures at the park is the brand new Fast and Furious—Supercharged, a large-scale expansion from the Universal Studios Hollywood version of the ride.
Featuring appearances from many of the stars of the film series in holographic form, riders get the sensation of interacting with the film series iconic stars such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, and Jordana Brewster. Appearances from Ludcacris and Brewster are unique to the Florida location, and the pair receive an ample amount of screen time. The actors’ images pop up once riders have boarded the ostensible “party bus” – a 48-person per vehicle tram.
Production teams filmed the actors speaking directly to park guests for an immersive, interactive experience. As the actors speak to guests, they bring them into the action and set the stage for the ride itself.
While the star power is impressive, it may be the props and scene setting that makes the ride the most special, and this starts from the entrance to the ride. Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative notes that the ride takes over space previously used by the Disaster! film production attraction, but its past is unrecognizable.
According to vice president of attraction development Don MacLean, the ride’s entrance is a warehouse-like space “made to look like it was 80 years old.” The industrial vibe encourages guests to imagine they’re in an auto mechanic’s warehouse, including tools and car parts. The lived-in, worked-in warehouse is recreated from the films, and packed with props and vehicles from the screen series as well as some that expand on the series’ universe.
In short, riders in the line to board the actual ride will find themselves with plenty to look at while they wait.
For one thing, park guests get a look at 15 unique cars placed throughout the warehouse space. According to MacLean, they were hand-crafted by the creator of the cars in the films, Dennis McCarthy. Dom Toretto’s Charger and Letty’s turbo truck are just two of them, other cars include a Lamborghini.
The predicted popularity of the new ride resulted in its inclusion in Universal’s virtual line system, developed in 2017 with the Race Through New York attraction at the park. Riders are assigned a color from NBC/Universal’s peacock logo, and then go to their specific colored area when called.
At Supercharged, riders select a time to return on the Universal Orlando app, or at kiosks near the attraction, rather than waiting in a long line. Riders can even participate in Fast and Furious trivia posted on the app, where there is a leaderboard that indicates how many replies were correct and detailing the leaders of the day. The virtual line technology allows guests to reserve a specific return time to the attraction to cut down on the length of their wait.
On the other hand, the wait itself at Supercharged is less onerous on guests than at many theme park attractions because of the way in which the wait-line winds its way through the detailed warehouse set: the rich designs give riders plenty to look at. Intensely real layers of dust, oil stains – everything viewers would expect to see in a real warehouse – add to the verisimilitude. Props such as grappling hooks, bulletproof vests and ammo creates add excitement. From vehicles on display to an homage to the late Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Conner, these are details that take time to absorb. Guests can even check out the stack of car keys and pink slips indicating racing conquests won by Toretto.
And as the line to board the ride moves on, live Universal Orlando actors interact with pre-recorded videos of the actual film characters in a nice riff on the film that has the pre-recorded material positioned as live-feeds. Essentially it’s a show within the ride, far more than a place to pass the time while waiting to board the actual ride. Ludacris’ character Tej Parker is featured in his so-called ‘war room’ which has a high-tech look. The accurate, detailed look and vibe of each of the pre-ride rooms keeps riders engaged even if the lines are long.
Once riders board the actual attraction, they’ll find its six minutes that are packed with adrenaline. Riders both watch and become a part of the action from every viewing angle. The storyline seems like it was lifted from the Furious franchise films. Riders are invited to an after-party celebrating series star Vin Diesel’s character, Dom Toretto’s latest racing win. Just as park guests board the ride’s vehicles – described as transporting riders to that party, they learn both the FBI and on-going franchise bad guy Owen Shaw are going to crash it. Guests, seated in their trackless transports, are surrounded by wrap-around screens that plunge them into the action of racing, screeching tires included. Glasses-free 3D tech is a major component of the ride, which includes holographic images of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) even attaching hooks to the ride vehicle, ostensibly transporting it forward. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) fires a massive gun that feels alarmingly real, and Toretto (Vin Diesel) hangs realistically close to riders, dangling from a helicopter’s landing skids. There’s heat, smoke, and vibrations that simulate speeding cars, so that riders feel a truly realistic sense of speed and motion, despite the fact that the ride itself is essentially stationary.
There are plenty of fun fan “Easter eggs” on the ride, too. As the park’s MacLean notes, riders should look for the electrical boxes on the walls of the party bus where they’ll “find the closing years and dates of the attraction that used to be in this space now occupied by Fast and Furious: Supercharged.”