• Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
  • Image Credit: Universal Studios
Swarmed by a crowd of VIPs with a smattering of journalists sprinkled in, I make my into a large building that's staged as a decades-old warehouse in San Francisco. I pass a chainlink fence housing NOS bottles and am greeted by familiar four-wheeled characters: a '12 Subaru WRX STI, a '97 Mazda RX-7, a '70 Ford Escort RS1600, and a '69 Dodge Daytona. If you've seen the third, sixth, and seventh outing of the $5-billion Fast & Furious franchise, these are the films co-stars, appearing in the queue for Universal Studios Florida's latest attraction, Fast & Furious - Supercharged.

The cars all look authentic, and they should. The WRX and Daytona are actual prop vehicles from their respective films. Dennis McCarthy, the Picture Car Coordinator whose company Vehicle Effects built all of the automobiles for the Fast & Furious films, post-Tokyo Drift, provided 15 of them for the ride. For cars McCarthy couldn't source from production, replacements were built to look just like their big screen counterparts, such as the Mazda RX-7, Ford Escort, and Toyota Supra.

In addition, McCarthy built two custom vehicles exclusively for the Orlando attraction, an "A/V Truck" and a "Turbo Truck." The former's monitors introduce Ludacris's character Tej, while the latter creation represents the tow vehicle for the party bus guests ride on.



Having been on the original Fast & Furious ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, Tej and the Turbo Truck are new additions, as is the garage set. In California, the attraction is part of the larger Studio Tour, where guests travel by tram in to the backlot of Universal Pictures' working movie studio. There, Fast & Furious is part of several experiences. In Florida, the attraction is standalone, allowing for additional world building during the queue, which includes the addition of Ludacris's character.

As I move along the line, I notice the props and set dressing. Universal went the extra mile in this department. Red Recaro seats, a titanium muffler and a front clip from an R33 Nissan Skyline GTS lie casually on the other side of chain-link stanchions. I make my way past the engine parts, headers, body panels, coilovers, and various other automotive details, and arrive in a room with a live actor. She sets up some of the backstory for the ride and introduces Jordana Brewster on-screen. Similar to Tej, her character Mia is a new addition and explains the area we're waiting in is the family room, a nod to all the Fast & Furious family photos sprinkled about.

My eyes wander to a corner of the room, to a wall of lockers with two pictures on its side. On top is a photo of Mia, directly below is one of Brian, Paul Walker's character. Next to it, a locker door is partially opened with a workshirt hanging off of it. The name patch reads Brian. On the ground, next to a child's play mat, is a toy R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R, a vehicle both the character and actor were known for driving. Insert tearing emoji. Nicely done, Universal Studios.

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The next room is Tej's base of operations, the second preshow. Another live-action actor paces in the war room-like environment filled with monitors. Tej appears on-screen, and while he's talking, Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and the Rock's Hobbs calls in, warning that Shaw, the villain from Fast & Furious 6, is about to pounce on our location. Safe to say, this ride is thoroughly more enjoyable if you've watched the films. And if you have, there's a dedicated Fast & Furious - Supercharged mobile experience on the park's app where you can take quizzes, and read up on character bios and customized messages.

A Turbo Truck pulls up hauling a party bus with flashing neon lights and blaring music. The vehicle is trackless and fully automated. Unlike Hollywood, 3D glasses are no longer required. Using the latest in projection technology, the video is displayed at a higher resolution and increased frame rate giving characters a life-like appearance. The setting has been changed from Los Angeles to San Francisco, to fit the ride's physical location in the San Francisco-themed part of Universal Studios Florida. The first room we drive through is staged as the Bay Area with four of McCarthy's cars on display. Besides that, the rest of the content appears to be largely the same from what I remember from the Hollywood park.



So how is the new ride? I can't help but compare it to the original experience in Hollywood – which a part of the Studio Tour, so being on a slow-moving, train-like vehicle tempered my expectations. The new ride in Orlando is a standalone experience in Orlando, but the party bus environment felt forced and disconnected. Neither party buses or trams disguised as such are fast or furious. Smaller, more nimble ride vehicles made to look like sports cars would have been more in vein with the franchise. Universal's Transformers: The Ride 3D is a great example of this.

The experience is still very entertaining, culminating in an action-packed chase sequence filled with flying cars, helicopters and larger-than-life Fast protagonists and antagonists displayed on a wrap-around screen. With the party bus yawing, the wind machines blowing and the occasional smoke going off, the sensation of speed feels real. Combine that with the stellar job of immersing you in to the world of the films during the queue, for fans wanting to be a part of Dom's family, Universal Studios Florida's Fast & Furious - Supercharged is as close as it gets.

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