fast and furious supercharged

Last week, I traveled to Orlando, Florida to experience the grand opening of Universal Studios Orlando Resort’s newest attraction. Based on the popular car heist film franchise, Fast & Furious – Supercharged puts you in the center of a ridiculously over-the-top freeway car chase. But it’s more than an adaptation of the similar tram tour segment from Universal Studios Hollywood, allowing Fast & Furious fans to step into the secret warehouse hideout of America’s favorite “family.”

Below, I’ve assembled my reaction to this new attraction and some secrets to the new ride, and explore how it compares to the Hollywood tram tour version.

Fast & Furious Superstars Celebrate Fast & Furious - Supercharged Opening at Universal Orlando

To launch the new ride, Vin Diesel made a grand entrance, fast and furiously driving a car through the air into the San Francisco facade, setting off a series of explosive fireworks. Franchise stars Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster were also in attendance to celebrate the new attraction.

fast and furious supercharged queue

How is Fast and Furious Supercharged Different from the Hollywood Tram Tour Segment?

Anyone who frequents Universal Studios Hollywood has probably already experienced the Fast & Furious segment of the tram tour and are wondering what makes this version different. And to be honest, there is a lot less different from this attraction when compared to the Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction, which was based on the west coast park’s King Kong 360.

The Immersive Queue is a Complete Joy

The queue is filled with tons of details for both fans of this franchise and longtime Universal Studios Florida guests to enjoy. The queue features 15 vehicles, some from the films, some created just for the attraction, all of which were handcrafted by the car coordinator of the film franchise. The attraction is housed in a brick building set in the San Francisco section of the park that was built in the last six months, but aged to feel like it had been there for 85 years.

The first room is themed like an abandoned brick building, with overgrown vegetation. The second queue room is a warehouse turned into car shop filled with four cars under work and car parts scattered throughout. The third room features a big truck blaring music and projecting scenes from the Fast and Furious movies onto one of the brick walls (which seems to break the logic of being in the Family’s secret hideout?). In this room, you can find more parts, acoustic panels on the walls (for what, we don’t know – maybe it has something to do with the loud music blasting from the truck?), racks with huge engines, and tactical boxes everywhere. A stainless steel table is home to some bulletproof vests and backpacks and it seems like the crew might be getting ready for another job. In the corner, you’ll find lockers with the names of all the family members, including Brian (Paul Walker’s character).

Two Rooms With Live Storylines set up the story in this ride. Where the tram tour has a quick phone in from Hobbs, this offers a much more extensive set-up.

New Footage From Film Stars: The preshow rooms include new video footage featuring  Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Jordana Brewster‘s characters. Actors on stage interact with facetime calls from the “family,” setting the stage for this warehouse party at the beginning of this car chase scene.

fast and furious supercharged ride vehicles

The Ride Vehicles are these large partybuses, each transporting seven rows of six people. The lights in the bus strobe along with the blaring rave music as you start and end this adventure. The vehicles themselves seem to be a different version of the vehicles developed for Skull Island. They also have a driver in the front seat, although I don’t believe they are animatronic figures like Kong.

The Location of the Ride has been changed from Los Angeles to San Francisco to match the location of the attraction in the Wharf area of the park. To the “haters” who believe that Universal was just trying to save money by porting a Hollywood tram tour segment over to a Florida ride, here is the proof you’re wrong: the entire ride footage had to be re-rendered to change to background from a Los Angeles freeway to San Francisco. This includes building and signage along the road, and that can’t have come cheap. Honestly, I’m surprised they spent the money to do this as I think most park guests wouldn’t have noticed the change in location, but it shows the importance of unbreakable and immersive theme from Universal.

The Ride is No Longer 3D, but Instead Has a Higher Resolution and Framerate

The Hollywood tram tour version of the ride is presented in 3D, but the Florida counterpart is not. Universal creatives explained to us before experiencing the attraction that they decided to make the ride 2D because of the advancements in high frame rate projection, which makes the ride feel like it’s in 3D. I’ll be honest: whatever projection technology they are using does not look in any way more 3D than any 2D projection screen I’ve seen. That said, it appears to be brighter and more vibrant than the Hollywood tram tour.

The Pros of Experiencing This Attraction in 2D Versus 3D: The experience is so immersive that I always find myself, at least on the Hollywood tram tour version, looking into my peripheral vision, which of course breaks the 3D illusion and results in my seeing a mess of overlayed images. That problem doesn’t exist on the 2D version of the attraction, where you can look in any angle you want to and see every crazy thing that is happening on the road around you. The screen image seems a bit brighter and more vibrant, and you don’t have to wear annoying 3D glasses and worry about them getting wet.

The Cons of the 2D Version: The CG created for this ride doesn’t always look great and I’m a believer that 3D presentation often hides bad CG. The bad CG is more obvious in this version of the ride. I also feel the 3D version is more immersive.

I’m wondering if Universal is feeling a backlash from guests on 3D rides. The park has certainly had a lot of them over the years, but it seems in recent years, as theatrical 3D ticket sales are in a decline, maybe guests are looking for more experiences that don’t require a layer of glasses. Remember, Universal launched Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in 3D in their Hollywood park, but shortly after opening decided to make it a 2D experience instead. I wonder if this is a beginning of a trend for Universal and the theme park industry.

Universal Creatives insist that they always choose the best technology to service the particular story they are telling, but I’m sensing the begining of a trend here. I remember at D23 Expo, Disney Imagineering pitching the Mickey and Minnie ride that is replacing the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios as a 3D ride without 3D glasses.

This Ride Offers Virtual Queue Technology: Supercharged is the second ride in Universal Studios Florida to offer the virtual queue technology. This allows you to check in on your phone or at the kiosks in front of the ride and get a return time to ride the attraction. When they first introduced this with Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York ride, it excited me because it seemed like it could be the future of theme park line management. That ride didn’t even offer a queue, but a small waiting area with fun games, comfortable chairs, and show and character opportunities. If theme parks didn’t dedicate so much room to long queues, that would mean they could possibly fit more rides while allowing park guests to experience more attractions per hour throughout their visit.

I’m a little disappointed at how the Virtual Queue tech is offered in this ride because it basically seems like Universal is building an in-between solution from their expensive VIP Express passes to their normal day park tickets. It’s basically what Disney offers with FastPass. It’s certainly a good thing, an added value for the normal ticket buyer, but it doesn’t seem as innovative as it was first presented with the Fallon ride and Volcano Bay.

The Ride Itself Isn’t Too Different: I enjoy the Fast and Furious segment on the tram tour as its just so ridiculous, and since the ride film here is pretty much the same, it’s essentially the same experience. I have a lot of friends who hate the tram tour segment and there isn’t anything here that will change their mind. The difference with the standalone Supercharged is the immersive queues, which is bound to be fun for fans of the franchise to explore. But I do expect people who aren’t aware of this ride’s tram tour beginnings might believe it’s a little short for an attraction experience. The version in Hollywood is part of a much longer tram tour experience which I think people can more easily account for their time in line. But it’s more worth checking out if you can schedule a time on Universal’s virtual line system.

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