Universal Studios Florida Fast & Furious–Supercharged Attraction Review
Posted in Universal Studios Florida on Monday, April 23, 2018
Author: Ryan L. Terry
Opening today, Fast & Furious–Supercharged the newest attraction at Universal Studios Florida. Based on the long-running franchise starring The Rock and Vin Diesel, this attraction transports you to the death defying races on the streets of San Francisco to ride along with The Family.
Built where Beetle Juice's Graveyard Revue and Earthquake used to stand, the entrance of Fast & Furious greets guests with an open courtyard of sorts, and still includes a fountain. I am glad to see that the water feature remains--a remnant of the former attraction/show. Designed to fit into the brownstone area of the park, the attraction entrance is certainly designed with crowds in mind. I also appreciate the added seating area with plenty of benches on which to relax and soak in the sun while enjoying a breeze and views of the lagoon.
For fans of the franchise, you'll find many references to characters, special moments, and even actors from the movie throughout the queue. The most prominent reference is near the beginning of the queue; you'll find a picnic table, a grill, and poured out Coronas. You can probably guess the sad moment that this scene commemorates. Although the extended queue was not opened since guest attendance was low, the design of the queue will more than accommodate the summer and Holiday crowds. Attention to detail is in no short supply. You'll truly feel that you're meandering through warehouses and garages. While it might not sound terribly difficult to recreate an automotive garage environment, the ability to design the queue in such a manner that feels like walking into a working garage is praise worthy. It has a gritty, rough, authentic feel around every corner. Looks like you could pull your car into the garage and have it repaired.
Much like with the former Earthquake (later Disaster) attraction, there are two preshows. The preshows are instrumental to introducing you to the experience on which you are about to embark. The first preshow introduces you to the break room a.k.a. the family room, as Dom affectionately refers to it. Because Dom doesn't have friends, he has family. Following your brief stay in the family room, you enter the control center for Dom's operations. It's in this room that you learn from the system's engineer that you are trusted with the responsibility to transport an individual involved in the witness protection program safely to the FBI. After being briefed on your mission, you make your way to the loading dock to board your turbo party bus that will soon be racing through the seedy underbelly of San Francisco.
As you board, you may find yourself searching around the room for the 3D glasses that you must've neglected to pickup. Great news! You don't need them. The ride vehicles themselves are quite similar to the ones on the Kong attraction but are certainly more lively with party lights! After departing the loading dock, your turbo bus rounds the corner through a tunnel and quickly accelerates to briskly travel hundreds of feet, wizzing past street lamps with a cool breeze in the air! You may recognize this transition from the loading dock into the tunnel then emerging in a sketchy ally as part of the old ride path of the former occupant of this soundstage–Earthquake. Although I cannot be 100% certain, I am pretty sure that this this highway tunnel is the same one from the old San Francisco subway. For longtime Universal Studios Florida fans, this will elicit a degree of nostalgia. Of all the effects in this attraction, the one that I feel is the most brilliant is the tunnel effect. Unlike the old Earthquake tunnel, this one utilizes intelligent lighting, fans, shadows, and more to authentically create the sensation of whizzing hundreds, if not thousands of feet at highway speeds with the wind blowing on your face. Between the vibrations of the road and lights wizzing past you, you will genuinely feel that you are on a bus in the city.
You emerge from the underground tunnel in an alley way that–get this– it NOT a screen. That's right. The room you enter contains a real, physical set design with practical props and a level of immersion seldom found at Universal Studios anymore since the traditional dark ride concept is nearly extinct. I had my reservations about what I heard of the ride design, but this truly dimensional environment that consists of brick, mortar, plaster, paint, and more was highly encouraging. However, that feeling was soon to go by the wayside. At the end of the alley, you interrupt a raging party. This is where you encounter Dom and his family just before taking to the streets. After passing through the physical set int eh previous chamber, I though that Fast & Furious would be similar to Forbidden Journey in that it would be a combination of screens and physical surroundings. I was about to be wrong.
The rest of the attraction consists of a screen tunnel similar to Kong except that it does not require 3D glasses. And that whole plot about transporting the witness–yeah–just throw that out the window. Despite the exquisite editing, timing, water effects, fog, and aroma of burning rubber, the race sequence is a huge cluster that it so incredibly chaotic that you will have little clue what is going on. I rode it twice yesterday, and both times I tried to understand what was actually going on, but it just plays off as a generic car chase. Excellent editing and design, but there is little plot to be found.
At one time, Universal Studios invited guests to "ride the movies." Movie implies plot. And a coherent plot is grossly lacking from this attraction. It's like a Michael Bay movie. Filled with impressive effects, flashy but ultimately shallow and unfulfilling. After the Universal Team Member preview, I saw a Twitter user put it this way "#FastFuriousRide neither fast nor furious. Discuss." And that pretty much sums up the experience of riding along with Dom and his family.
Ryan is a theme park enthusiast living in Central Florida, and loves going to the parks as often as possible! Passholder to Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens, and SeaWorld. In the Fall of 2017, his Thrillz article on Turn it Up: the Hottest Show on Ice at Busch Gardens was cited in a massive ad campaign. He also loves horror films and just movies in general! If you see him out and about in the Florida parks, stop him to say hi!
Ryan holds a Master of Arts degree in Media Studies (with a concentration in cinema and themed entertainment) from the University of South Florida. His research area is on the convergence of cinema and theme parks. He explores ideas such as narrative, spectacle, setting, and setting in terms of movies and themed entertainment. Learning how to successfully translate an idea of intellectual property from one medium into another is the primary goal of his predictable model for creative design that affects both theme parks and the cinema.
Ryan's Favorite Ride(s):