The new Fast & Furious: Supercharged 3D motion-based simulator attraction debuting this summer at Universal Studios Hollywood will transform the leisurely backlot studio tour into a 120 mph street race through Los Angeles.
The new attraction, set to open June 25, replaces the Fast & Furious: Extreme Close-Up car stunt show that's elsewhere on the backlot tram tour.
The massive new Furious attraction is based on the street racing film franchise and will be similar to the King Kong 360 3D drive-through motion simulator that opened at the movie theme park in 2010.
Fast & Furious: Supercharged will be more technologically advanced and three times as large as the Kong attraction, said Chick Russell, the Universal Creative executive producer for the new attraction.
“We wanted to do something unlike anything that’s ever been done before,” Russell said during a recent preview tour.
During the planning stages for what was then known as Project 469, Universal Creative built a full-scale mock-up of the Furious attraction complete with a fake tram inside a cavernous Playa Vista soundstage.
Now housed in an enormous 65,000-square-foot building, the newly constructed 800-foot-long and six-story-tall structure is longer than two football fields.
Projected onto the world’s longest 3D screen, the new high-definition film will be accompanied by 80,000 watts of sound and multiple special effects, including water, mist, fire, smoke and wind.
Encircling the tram riders, the wrap-around screen spanning nearly 400 feet in length and 40 feet in height will employ 34 projectors. More than 50 speakers will blast 108 decibels of sound through the perforated screen dotted with millions of tiny holes.
The studio backlot tram will be situated atop a 200-foot-long motion simulator and will roll, pitch, undulate and vibrate as riders experience simulated collisions with cars, debris, shrapnel and missiles in correlation with action on the screen. Wind effects will create the illusion the tram is accelerating to 120 mph.
“If anything, we have to tone it down a bit because you don’t have a seat belt on,” Russell said with a mischievous grin.
Spoiler alert: What follows is a detailed distillation of the attraction's backstory and an extensive description of the building's interior. Consider yourself warned.
The back story for the Furious attraction is established using videotaped snippets shown during the tram ride around the studio backlot.
The tram scenes and the attraction's 3D film feature stars from the movie franchise's original cast, including Vin Diesel (Dominic “Dom” Toretto), Dwayne Johnson (Luke Hobbs), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce) and Luke Evans (Owen Shaw).
All of the stunts and action sequences involving the movie’s stars were filmed in front of a green screen and later composited with HD photo-realistic imagery shot in and around Los Angeles.
During the backlot tour, the tram driver spots Dom’s distinctive black 1970 Dodge Charger parked next to a studio bungalow and radios in the information to Universal security.
Soon an FBI agent warns riders to be on the lookout for a federal witness who may be on the tram hiding from an international crime cartel.
During a third "live" broadcast, Hobbs notifies the riders that Dom's crew has been retained to protect the witness and the team needs our help.
“Everyone on the tram is in danger," Hobbs concludes. "Enjoy the ride.”
As the tram pulls up to the entrance of the attraction, the doors to the Sullivan Truck Repair shop slide open and the tram enters the Fast & Furious crew’s secret chop shop, passing stacks of tires, a rusty tow truck and a partly disassembled car.
Inside the building, the tram pulls to a stop in the first of three distinct zones separated by sound-proof elephant doors.
In the first zone, riders see Hobbs' assault vehicle with a roof-mounted machine gun and Roman's truck with a grappling hook on the back. B
The vehicle bay is filled with equipment designed for body work, custom painting, engine repairs and diagnostic tests. Hobbs and Roman appear on video screens to set up the action that is about to unfold.
In the second zone, the four interconnected tram vehicles pull up in front of four individual bays set up to display a digital Pepper’s Ghost effect that employs an angled Mylar film screen and lighting techniques to make the hologram-like performers seemingly appear on stage.
Throughout the scene, videotaped projections of the Furious characters seemingly walk around and stand on the back of a truck that rises from beneath the stage. Hidden above the tram, four projectors layer images onto an invisible Mylar screen for greater brightness.
“It’s one big magic trick,” Russell said.
In the third zone, the riders pull into the main showroom surrounded by a curving screen that wraps around the front of the tram. Situated atop the world’s largest hydraulic motion-based simulator, the tram is designed to shake, tilt and vibrate in concert with the action on the world’s longest 3D screen.
As the movie begins, the screen fills with a enveloping view of a parking structure. Almost immediately, the Furious crew races into the garage. Roman’s truck latches onto the tram with a grappling hook and hauls the riders through the action unfolding across a web of streets and freeways.
Without giving away the entire storyline, the Furious crew helps the tram riders dodge flamethrowers, machine guns, missiles, crashes and explosions. At one point, Dom falls from a helicopter on one side of the tram and lands on the hood of a perfectly-timed speeding car on the other side.
After the tram successfully jumps off an unfinished bridge, Dom says: “You did good. You can join our crew anytime.”
At the conclusion, the tram exits through a cloud of smoke as the nose screen secretly lifts out of the way.
The debut of the new attraction is timed to tie in with the recent release of “Furious 7,” the latest installment in the street racing film franchise. Since 2006, the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot tour has featured the Fast & Furious: Extreme Close-Up car stunt show, a bizarre presentation featuring two drift-racing vehicles lifted 25 feet into the air on gigantic robotic arms in an “automotive dance."
Along with the addition of King Kong 360 3D in 2010, Fast & Furious: Supercharged continues Universal’s effort to inject energy and excitement into the backlot tour.
Long Universal’s most popular attraction, the backlot tour has grown dated over the years, with old standbys such as the “Jaws” shark attack and the earthquake simulation feeling stodgy and archaic compared with the theme park’s newer additions.