Pulse-pounding and adrenaline-inducing are the perfect descriptions for the new action-packed, high-speed 3D-HD thrill ride, “Fast & Furious – Supercharged,” which will be the finale of Universal Studios Hollywood’s world-famous Studio Tour, starting on June 25th. Inspired by Universal Pictures’ most successful film franchise of all time and featuring the film’s original cast members, the technologically advanced, ground-breaking and epic ride immerses guests in the high-stakes underground world of fast cars, where tram riders will go on a harrowing escapade at perceived speeds in excess of 120 mph to escape from an international crime cartel.
With the park continuing to be transformed to give guests an immersive experience like no other, back in March, Collider was invited to take a hard hat tour and learn about the experience, effects and techniques used for this new thrill ride from Chick Russell, an executive producer for Universal Creative. We’ve compiled a list of 13 things you should know about what went into making and designing “Fast & Furious – Supercharged” at Universal Studios Hollywood.
- It’s the job of Universal Studios Hollywood to make incredible attractions based on films, and they work with the filmmakers themselves to make sure what they do is as close to a movie experience you can get. The world famous Studio Tour is the reason that most people come to Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s the only place where you can go behind-the-scenes at a real working studio, that is one of the largest and oldest working studios in the world. Aboard the Studio Tour, guests have a chance to see real productions, and sometimes even have to drive around them.
- Over the years, Universal has added rides and attractions that take things to a whole other level, and that’s exactly what “Fast & Furious – Supercharged” is, as the new grand finale of the Studio Tour. Unlike most of the other things on the Studio Tour, where you drive up to them, experience them, see them, the guide talks about them, and then you move on, they’ve done something different this time. They wanted it to feel as though you are in a Fast & Furious film for the entire tram route.
- This particular thrill ride is three years in the making because they had to design the building and build it. Also, the actual ride system is all brand-new.
- The original cast members from the film star in the ride, including Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Luke Evans, as the bad guy, Owen Shaw. The story of the experience is that Dom’s family has been retained by Hobbs, as so often happens. In this case, it’s to protect a witness from the Witness Protection Program, who’s aboard the tram. That becomes a dangerous situation, for both the witness and for everybody on the tram. They have to find a way to protect the tram and everybody who’s on board.
- They continue to raise the stakes, as the tram travels along the route. As you’re driving along on the tram, you’ll hear from studio security, looking to apprehend Dominic Toretto, and you’ll hear from Hobbs, who lets everyone know that Owen Shaw is after someone from the Witness Protection Program that’s hiding out on the tram.
- The tram then veers off the tram route to enter the ride, in what appears to be an abandoned truck repair shop. Once there, the doors open and the tram drives in. When you drive in, you only see the front building, but it’s really an incredibly complex, high-tech thrill ride building on steroids.
- The first scene you experience has Hobbs’ assault vehicle and Roman’s racing tow truck, and you meet some of the actors, who will give you more information about what’s going on. In the next bay, there’s a loud after-race party happening that uses special illusion techniques to make you feel like you’re really in the middle of the action. Lastly, you move into a very large facility that recreates the experience of racing through the streets of L.A., at as much as 120 mph. And then, you drive out and resume the tram ride.
- They’ve built the longest 3D screen in the world that wraps completely around the tram. They have 18 4K projectors that project onto the screen with four times the resolution of anything that’s been done before. They went out and shot actual footage around L.A., so that the images are completely realistic. It’s a perforated screen with speakers behind it for special sound effects and voices that provide 3D audio. And then, there is an 80,000 watt sound system to power it all.
- There are sensory special effects that are done with effects walls on both sides of the tram that will hurl water for explosions and debris. There is spray that will hit you, like gasoline spraying at you when you go through a refinery. And then, there is wind that will make you feel like you’re going 5 mph, like the normal tram speed, and then 85 mph, once it’s hooked up to the racing trucks, and then finally at 120 mph when they hit the NOS to go over a bridge that’s under construction.
- The entire tram is on a hydraulic motion base, synchronized to the motion on the screen. It’s the largest hydraulic motion base in the world. It’s basically a flight simulator that can do just about anything they want, once you are onboard. Each one of the tram cars is on its own motion base, so that they can control what happens to each car, in relation to what they’re seeing from each location.
- They did a mock-up of the ride in Playa Vista, where they built the Spruce Goose, to test it and see if it worked. They spent a year there, making constant adjustments to make sure that it looked right from each location. It was pretty complicated to make sure that all four cars of each tram got the same experience on the ride. Because it’s such a long tram, it’s hard to get the sight-lines right.
- They thought the work they’d done on King Kong 360-3D would help with this, but they wanted to do something more over-the-top. They needed the action and visceral experience that comes with the Fast & Furious franchise, so they had to design from the ground up, with the projection, the screen and the hydraulic system. Ultimately, it’s much more intense.
- With a lot of families on the tram tour, they have to find that sweet spot that satisfies thrill seekers. A lot of it is done visually and viscerally, and with wind and water spray, so it’s very safe. Sometimes they try to push the envelope on what is scary, like with Transformers: The Ride and the giant robots, so they set a height requirement.
“Fast & Furious – Supercharged” opens at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 24th.