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Arts and Entertainment

We Rode Universal's New 'Fast & Furious' Ride And Lived To Tell The Tale

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Universal Studios Hollywood is debuting a new ride to the public tomorrow: Fast and Furious: Supercharged, an exhilarating 3D finale to their studio tour. We were lucky enough to score an invitation to preview of the ride. How could we say no?

Fast and Furious: Supercharged is not a roller coaster, but it is a blockbuster of a ride that uses 3D to make you feel like you're smack in the middle of one of the movies. It features a story outside of the film franchise's canon, but includes appearances from several of the main cast including Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Luke Evans. The ride now concludes the Universal studio tour and while it's not long, it is impressive how much you can feel like you're racing down the street dodging bullets and bad guys when you're really in a dark building not moving at all.

Guests who choose to embark on the adventure will board the Universal tram and first take a tour of the studio's backlot. We went on a nice leisurely ride through many set pieces that fans might recognize from Back to the Future or Jaws—the Amity Island sign noting that the beach is closed is a fun touch. Our tour guide was just informing us that we were looking at some home exteriors from Desperate Housewives when she noticed a certain black Dodge Charger that wasn't supposed to be on the lot. Fast and Furious fans may recognize this car as the one driven by Vin Diesel's character, Dom Toretto.

Our tour guide called the suspicious car into park security, only to have an FBI Agent suddenly appear on the tram's monitors, interrupting our tour. The agent warned us that there'd been some activity from a presumably armed and dangerous criminal named Dom Toretto and his crew. The monitor then displayed a brief montage of who else we should watch out for, including Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). My favorite intro was for Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) who we were told had a thing for "fast cars and beautiful women, not necessarily in that order." The agent, however, was interrupted by bounty hunter Luke Hobbs (The Rock!), who called the agent a 'stinkpickle' and informed us that a witness onboard our tram was being hunted by Owen Shaw, a notorious criminal. Now Shaw, as you may recall, is a bad dude and a former Special Ops mercenary who, after a dishonorable discharge, moved onto high-stakes heists.

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Things seemed pretty intense so for our safety, Hobbs told us we'd be taken to a safe house. Now, this feels like more like a safe garage, really, and here's where we encounter Toretto and his crew. Our tram pulled into the dark garage and Pierce popped up on the tram's monitors to tell us that we'd likely be protected from Shaw finding us if we didn't use our cell phones or cameras to take any photos or video of the ride. We were also told to put on our "protective glasses," which are, of course, 3D.

Now, we were all set to hang out at a rave that was happening deeper in the garage until Shaw went away, but we soon learned that someone had used their cell phone and the bad guys knew right where we were! We had no choice but to flee in our tram! Hologram Vin Diesel instructed our tram driver to get us out of there.

What followed was a pretty cool, 3D ride through the streets of Los Angeles. The action was filmed on a green screen, and the completed 3D-HD film is projected via 34 projectors onto a giant, 360-degree screen. At 400 feet in length, Universal says this is the longest 3D screen in the world.

For the rider, this results in feeling like you are completely immersed in a high-speed chase. Cars buzzed by us on both sides, helicopters dipped dangerously close and cars exploded in our faces. The heroes of the Furious films appeared to be caught in the crossfire with us, popping off rounds, jumping on hoods and using hijacked construction equipment to thwart their enemies' cars.

Though the tram actually stays still during the ride, it really doesn't feel like that at all. Ride designers aimed to make passengers feel as though they're racing along at 120 mph, and there are some heart-thumping moments along the way. The 3D effects combined with surround sound, well-placed jostles, bumps, bursts of fog and splashes of water allow for a momentary suspension of disbelief. We probably giggled a lot, but we cannot confirm or deny this. We should also note that this is a very doable ride for those who don't like roller coasters.

So, did we escape Shaw? Well, that's a spoiler. Let's just say we might have been invited to join Dom's crew again "any time."

The ride was preceded by an opening ceremony that involved a dance number from some sexy mechanics, an appearance by Mayor Eric Garcetti and a visit from filmmakers Neal H. Mortiz and Chris Morgan, plus stars Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson. Several cars from the films were also on site for fans to pose with or drool over. In lieu of cutting a ribbon, Diesel moved to cut a chain with a pair of bolt cutters, though he was briefly interrupted by a swarm of FBI who threatened to shut the whole thing down. Luckily, the FBI agents were interrupted by a car chase that ended with a Dodge Charger bursting through a banner. This move signified that the ride was officially open.

If you're curious to see how the effects were filmed, you can watch this behind the scenes video:

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Fast & Furious: Supercharged officially opens at Universal Studios Hollywood tomorrow.

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