11:23am PT by Matt Cabral
What It's Like Riding with the 'Fast & Furious' Crew at Universal Studios
Fast & Furious fans may not have a new film to look forward to this year, but they can still buckle up and hang with the franchise's family at Universal's Orlando Resort. The Florida theme park's latest attraction, Fast & Furious – Supercharged, leverages a garage-load of tech, effects and props to put guests in the middle of a high-speed chase through the streets of San Francisco.
Heat Vision was among a group of media previewing the attraction in honor of its opening this week.
Brought to life by a glasses-free 3D technology, the attraction is like one extended set-piece, complete with Michelle Rodriguez's Letty attaching grappling hooks to the ride vehicle to propel it forward, Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs firing a gun the size of a Volkswagen, and Diesel's Dom hanging from a helicopter's landing skids. Coupled with multiple sensory and physical effects, from heat and smoke to the vehicle's various built-in vibrations, the ride movie manages to convey an incredible sense of motion and speed (even though in reality the movement is minimal).
At six or so minutes, the attraction is breathless, but brief. The time you spend tearing up the pavement in the “party bus” though only represents one part of the total experience. Unlike Universal Studios Hollywood's version of the attraction — which serves as the concluding portion of the California park's tram tour — Florida's Fast & Furious ride is a standalone experience, featuring live actors, pre-show encounters, a highly themed queue and more Easter eggs than you could cram into the trunk of Dom's Dodge Charger.
Beyond the detailed grit and grime, the headquarters is filled with props of both the automotive and action-adventure variety, including grappling hooks, bulletproof vests and ammo crates. There's also more than a dozen vehicles to ogle; some from the films, others built specifically for the attraction, but all handcrafted by the man behind the movies' cars, Dennis McCarthy. Fans with an especially keen eye will also spot cool, story-expanding call-outs, like a pile of pink slips and car keys won by Dom, as well as a nice nod to the late Paul Walker's character Brian O'Conner.
As guests delve deeper into the queue, the surrounding aesthetic begins to drive the attraction's original story. Live actors (playing non-film characters) interact with pre-recorded videos — posing as live feeds — featuring Jordana Brewster's Mia Toretto and Ludacris' Tej Parker. The latter encounter is especially cool, as it takes place in Tej's “war room”, a sort of high-tech, blue-tinted bunker that'd make a James Bond villain jealous. Hobbs also make's a brief appearance here, interrupting Tej's fun banter with the live actor to warn of the FBI leading Shaw to their location.
Once you've soaked in the fan-servicing surroundings, you can power-up your smartphone to test your F&F knowledge; using Universal's official app, parkgoers can participate in a trivia game, then see how they stack up on a score-tracking display screen posted in the queue. Visitors can also use the app to reserve a ride time, a part of the park's recent “Virtual Line” system that aims to eliminate wait times.
While the speed limit-abusing portion of the attraction is the main draw, fans of the films will also appreciate the incredible authenticity that's gone into all the pre-ride elements of the experience. In fact, the franchise's most faithful followers may want to explore the queue multiple times to discover every last immersion-cranking detail. Of course, even if you're not a fan of the “family”, riding an attraction that seemingly travels 100 mph faster than the park's Hogwarts Express should provide a nice change of pace.