Fast and Furious- Supercharged is Universal Studios Hollywood’s latest addition in their 5 year transformation. This new attraction isn’t a stand alone ride, but is the finale to the Studio Tour. The main portion of the ride is in a 360˚ wrap around screen.
Supercharged is the park’s second attempt at a Fast and Furious themed attraction. The Tokyo Drift segment of the Studio Tour opened in 2006 and closed in 2013. The cheesy experience used two Kuka arms with fiberglass cars that would dance around.
Here is a video of the original attraction from our friends at Inside Universal.
The new addition is very similar to King Kong: 360-3D as both use massive screens to engulf the tram in the action. Supercharged takes the Kong concept to the next level. They have four scenes instead of the two in King Kong.
Later you get a transmission from a FBI agent and he is soon interrupted by Luke Hobbs, played by Rock Johnson. He has some really funny lines as they attempt to set up the weak storyline of a guest on the tram having intel on criminal Owen Shaw, a villain in the films.
Soon you are treated by a massive facade of a worn down garage. As you drive inside, you see a tow truck and a armored truck on the right of the tram. The onboard monitors set up the vehicles and what is about to happen. In the background, you can hear the thumping music of the nearby party. A set of doors open and the tram moves into scene two.
There are four independent rooms, one for each tram car. A modern day version of the classic Pepper’s Ghost effect, called Musion, is used to make Dom, Hobbs, Letty and Roman come to life. When you first enter this scene, there are many dancers partying and as they leave, large curtains slide down isolating each car to it’s own room. A physical lift pulls a tow truck up with two digital characters riding up on it. The musion works well, but when multiple characters are standing in front of each other, they look paper thin and two dimensional. This is a slight complaint, but looks wonky and takes away some of the illusion. Your tram goes through another set of doors and enters the main show scene. A large 360˚ screen with 18 4K projectors fills the room. Here your car slides onto its own motion base. The platforms used in King Kong are pneumatic and don’t give a fluid and organic movement, but these ones are hyperbolic and are very fluid and have a nice range of motion. The media shows your tram getting attacked by Owen Shaw and his gang. Remember those tow trucks we saw earlier? Two of them roll out and hook on to our tram and helps us escape. Dominic grabs on to a drone and flies over the tram. An oil refinery starts to explode with gasoline (water) sprayed at you. Then you gun across an under construction bridge and land in the Long Beach shipping yards. The main room is about 90 seconds long and felt very short. The ending is also very abrupt and quick. The media quality is mediocre for a theme park attraction. I personally think the ride should have taken place at night, so you can’t see the edges of the screens and the lighting would look better. The 3D could use some adjusting. On my first ride through, there were two programers on their laptops still working, so they are still tweaking the ride.
Here is fantastic video of the experience by our friends at SoCal Attractions 360.
Overall I came off of my first ride disappointed. But after my second time through, I did like it a bit more, but it still falls from greatness. The storyline is almost nonexistent once you enter the show building. The animation and musion could be better and the main scene is short and ends abruptly. I would love to see some practical effects, like physical drones and cars in the main attraction.
After five years of blockbuster attractions from Universal Creative, such as Forbidden Journey, Gringotts, Transformers, King Kong, you expect another innovative ride, but Fast and Furious- Supercharged untimely falls from greatness. Is it the story? The over reliance of characters? Or the franchise all together? I honestly don’t know, but their second attempt at a Fast and Furious ride isn’t something that will rank up there with their recent hits. On another note, the park is marking this as a stand alone attraction. Imagine the disappointment a guest will have when they find out they need to wait to ride the Studio Tour to go on Supercharged, then to find out they need to wait another 45 minutes until the tram gets to the ride. Then they find the main portion is only 90 seconds long. I can see many getting off disappointed after false advertising and hype.
Hopefully the park can make some quick edits to fix the problems they are having with the ride and can get it operating perfectly before opening. I hope to see the ride respond well with the public, but I can see many coming off disappointed and frustrated.