Opening in 2018 to scathing reviews, Fast & Furious: Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida is rumored to close briefly for an upcoming refurbishment. For awhile now, there have been rumors that Universal Orlando was working on a plan to supposedly “fix” the ride, but will they really be implementing these changes this soon?
And if they do, will it be enough? Or will this continue to be one of the most disappointing new attractions from a company that has been debuting some of their best work as of late? Let’s dig into some of the rumors for how they could fix Fast & Furious: Supercharged. (See the video version of this story for additional visuals.)
Fast & Furious: Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida is expected to close next month for a planned refurbishment. While no details have been released on what exactly will be done, I assume they will also be working on general upkeep during the closure, (like cleaning the musion screen which is looking pretty dirty lately). However, there have also been rumors that the company has a plan to “fix” the attraction.
This refurbishment is supposedly going to be brief, maybe just for a week or so, but that could help explain why they will not be closing Shrek 4-D, which is going away for good, until January 10th.
Plus, Revenge of the Mummy will be closing for an extended refurbishment of its own starting January 7th. That doesn’t give them much time to somehow fix Supercharged, which sounds like a tall order.
The ride itself is an expanded version of the 360 segment from Universal Hollywood’s tram tour. While Hollywood’s version opened to mixed reviews, it’s at least only a small part of a much larger attraction. Orlando’s version was set up as its own standalone ride, where guests would queue up to ride Supercharged and Supercharged alone.
Universal Orlando did add some new elements to it, much like they did when they transformed the Hollywood tram tour’s Kong 360 segment into Skull Island: Reign of Kong for Islands of Adventure. But while Kong added new scenes and some animatronics, Supercharged used the extra scenes it added to better flesh out the tram tour’s preshow elements… While ALSO adding two more preshows before you even get on the ride.
The ride was announced to also open at Universal Studios Beijing, but after poor reviews from guests in Orlando, the Beijing resort wisely decided to cut Supercharged from the new park’s plans.
Before the pandemic, there were rumors that Universal Orlando was exploring ways to fix their version of Supercharged. Different concepts had been floating around the internet for a couple years.
One rumored concept was to change the ride into a Knight Bus themed attraction, and connect it to the Wizarding World area next door. That would be able to keep the ride system and layout intact at least, but with a new Potter attraction now rumored to be taking over the Fear Factor Live spot, I doubt they would also expand the area in this direction as well.
Another rumor we had heard was that the attraction could somehow be tied into the recent Hobbs and Shaw film, which did see success at the box office.
I think the first thing that could be done to improve the ride, without tearing it down and starting over, would be to improve the main section’s graphics. The look of the main film has been one of the biggest complaints.
Perhaps the reason any rumored changes have been delayed is so they could film the actors again for new ride footage? That would explain why they didn’t just perform any upgrades last year when the attraction was closed temporarily while the parks were operating with less capacity.
Filming the actors again, and maybe tweaking the story, or even including more characters, could be a way to tie the attraction to the later films in the franchise.
In my opinion though, one way to make this ride better is to increase the length of the main film section. While the ride features a similar set up as Skull Island at the park next door, the scenes leading up to the main part of Kong feel as though they are just as much a part of the ride as the 360 segment. We have action, a few animatronics, and the first half of the story.
On Supercharged, all of the earlier segments for the ride are just exposition, and feel more like additional preshows before the main event. We watch Hobbs on a screen in a never-ending dark tunnel. We see the main characters introduce us to the story in a musion scene. And then by the time we get to what we think is the ride, it’s over in a flash.
It doesn’t help that these first couple scenes are just reiterating the exact same beats we were told in the preshows we experience on foot before boarding the party bus in the first place.
Extending the total amount of time for the 360 sequence, perhaps even adding additional locations besides a garage and driving down a single street, would help make it feel like a full story. Every time I ride Supercharged with people riding for the first time, they always say the exact same thing after it’s over: “That’s it?”
A new, more polished 360 film, along with a new motion profile for the vehicles, could go a long way into making this attraction more palatable. Like when Disney had to add Figment back into Imagination within a year of opening the second version, after a deluge of complaints, this ride could at very least use a band-aid of its own.
One more thing I would do, personally, is consider bringing back the 3D. The original Supercharged is presented in 3D on the Hollywood tram tour, same as Kong 360. And yet, it appears that the 3D element was removed from Orlando’s version at the last minute.
You can still spot themed signs warning you in the queue to use protective eyewear near where the glasses distribution area is. The fact that they actually built, at least what I assume, are 3D glasses distribution areas, tells you how far it made it in development.
The park removed 3D from its Minions ride soon after as well. I’m sure they don’t want people to think of Universal Studios Florida as just the 3D park, but I am afraid complaints from guests may have more to do with screen and simulator fatigue than just 3D glasses themselves.
The removal of 3D from rides that were designed to use it can have detrimental effects on how they are viewed. Objects that are meant to look as though they are right in front of your face now simply appear two stories tall. Without the depth of field that the two-projector 3D effect creates, the illusion is lost, and well, Vin Diesel looks twenty feet tall.
The 360 segment doesn’t feel like we’re driving down the road without 3D, so much as it feels as if we are in a long screen tunnel. This isn’t like the dome screens of Back to the Future or The Simpsons, where the screen was designed for viewing without 3D glasses, this ride was developed for 3D, and I would love to see it used as intended.
But that’s just my take on it. Redoing the main section of the ride in any way may increase its enjoyment and I will take what I can get. I’m sure many fans will still be disappointed that a Fast and Furious themed attraction doesn’t actually go fast, but short of gutting the building and starting over, I don’t think just a short refurbishment is going to solve all of its problems.
Who knows, maybe after Revenge of the Mummy is done with its refurbishment next year, Supercharged can close for an extended closure of its own, so they can really get in there and switch things up. We’ll just have to wait and see.
That’s all for now. Be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals, and stay tuned for more theme park news and rumors!