Fast & Furious–Supercharged
Universal Studios’ most successful franchise ever, the Fast & Furious movies, has gotten so successful it’s branching into other media. The surest sign of a movie being a long-running hit is when it gets a theme park ride, and that has now happened. Now open at Universal Studios Hollywood is Fast & Furious–Supercharged. This is the grand finale to the famous Studio Tour attraction at the theme park.
Like most of Universal’s big attractions these days, Fast & Furious–Supercharged is a 3D motion simulator ride using a massive digital screen–in fact, the “world’s longest and most expansive 360-degree screen.” The size really is impressive. Much like their King Kong attraction, the screen is long enough for the entire tram to see the action, on both sides…and those Studio Tour trams are much longer than your average roller coaster train. Which makes the motion simulation an impressive feat indeed–this isn’t just your seat shaking around, it’s the entire tram feeling like you’re speeding along city streets, getting rammed and shot at, and flying through the air.
The story of the ride is that Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), the villain from Fast & Furious 6, has been spotted in the area and is trying to track down an important witness that can help put him in jail. Under the direction of Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), the tour hides out in a garage where Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and Dom (Vin Diesel) are holed up. Shaw tracks us down, and we escape the garage under escort from Dom’s crew, racing down a freeway while being assaulted on all sides by Shaw and his gang. There are assault vehicles, drone helicopters, grappling hooks, flame throwers, construction equipment and probably more that I missed. There is SO MUCH going on that it’s both exhilarating and chaotic. With such massive screens, on both sides of the tram, it’s physically impossible to see everything happening. I do recommend getting a side seat if possible, so you at least will get a good view of half the action, with occasional glances over to see what else is going on.
I was sure that a motion simulator ride wouldn’t work with such a large vehicle, but I was proven wrong. I absolutely felt like we were accelerating rapidly, speeding through the city, getting rammed from all sides, and even jumping off a bridge at one point. The motion technology is a lot of fun. The 3D technology is still a struggle to make work for such a large ride though because off the different angles that people can view it from. Something in front of you may look good, but something on the other side will likely look a little out of focus, just because 3D is hard to get right in the simplest of circumstances, which this certainly is not.
One of my favorite parts of the ride, as a huge fan of the film franchise, is that it feels like a mini sequel or spin-off of the series. It doesn’t have the whole cast (just the 5 mentioned above), but it was great to see some of my favorite characters reprising their roles. It even led to some speculative debate about where this fits into the movies’ timeline. I’m not quite sure it does, if I’m remembering correctly. I think at the end of the 6th movie, Shaw was in no condition to be hunting down witnesses, and in the 7th movie, that hasn’t changed. So it can’t fit between movies. It could maybe fit in if you think of it as a sort of deleted scene from the middle of the 6th movie, but I don’t even know if that would work either. I know I’m overthinking it. It is probably best to just consider it a standalone adventure of these characters, that is outside of the movies. Still, the action choreography is remarkable. I would love for the filmed footage to be available to view on its own, without the ride. I’d like to just enjoy it as an action scene on its own, but I doubt Universal would ever release it for viewing anywhere other than on the ride.
When it was over, I immediately wanted to ride again. Like, IMMEDIATELY. Both because it was fun and because I wanted to try to see the action snippets that I missed. It might even be best to ride twice and just pay attention to one side at a time, instead of trying to look at both sides, as I was doing. I will say that both sides have fun stuff on the screen, but the right side is maybe a little more exciting. I’m not sure though–that’s why I wanted to ride it again! The problem with this is that as the finale of the Studio Tour, you can’t ride it again without riding the whole tour again, which is at least a 45-minute ride, and most of the other parts of the Studio Tour are not ones that you are eager to repeat again right away. It’s a curious strategic choice. It seems like it might limit a lot of potential repeat riders, but I’m sure they have their reasons.
In any case, Fast & Furious–Supercharged is a lot of fun, especially for fans of the film franchise. It’s a great addition to the theme park and to the series. I just wish I could ride it again faster! But not necessarily more furious :)