Universal’s New ‘Fast & Furious’ Ride is Fast and Dumb, Just Like the Movies [REVIEW]
My recent trip to Universal Orlando was pretty incredible. Most of the rides were fun and it wasn't that busy, so we got to ride pretty much everything without forking over an extra hundred bucks a head for express passes.
When I visited the park in 2016, I was extremely disappointed to learn that one of my favorite rides, 'Earthquake: The Big One' (later rebranded as 'Disaster!'), had just closed a few months earlier. It wasn't until after my latest visit that I learned they replaced it with 'Fast & Furious: Supercharged.'
Normally, I wouldn't go out of my way to give a bad review to a theme park ride, but I feel like I need to avenge 'Earthquake' by telling you just how bad its replacement is -- so here goes my top to bottom review of this absolute failure on every level.
The First Waiting Area
This was actually one of the ride's coolest parts. You start your (hopefully no more than 20 minute) wait in line for the ride outside of a garage. There are some really cool cars to look at and that picnic table from the movie where Dom and his crew sit, drink Coronas, and awkwardly smile at each other while talking about being family. You know, the iconic picnic table you've been dying to see in real life.
From there you enter the garage, which has a bunch of tools in cages, Jegs stickers, and more cool cars. Plus, Ludacris pops up on the TVs and says some stuff about his big truck that's parked in there. Riveting stuff, you guys.
The Second Waiting Area
Next, when you think you're about to get on the ride, you enter a room where "Pat" is on a stage doing a lukewarm stand-up routine. The Universal Orlando cast member was trying, but it was awkward. You're basically ushered into a large room with 50 other people, and this "Pat" character is doing light crowd work and asking us if we're ready to party. The crowd was not feeling it or responding very enthusiastically. It was at this point when I started asking myself questions like "Why do they keep calling Ludacris Ted?" and "What even is this ride?"
After "Pat" explained to us that it's her job to wash all of the cars we just saw outside, I think we were supposed to be impressed or something. We, collectively, were not. Then, the character Mia (played by actress Jordana Brewster) video calls "Pat" and starts telling us about how her brother (the guy that voices Groot) was late because he just won another race for pink slips. I think we were supposed to be impressed again. Pat and Mia certainly were.
This was all getting a bit tacky, but I took solace in the fact that once the doors to my left opened -- we'd be getting on the ride. I then noticed a nice little tribute to the late Paul Walker in the room. Had I not been avoiding eye contact with Pat and her awkward prompts for crowd participation -- I probably would've missed little details like that memorial or the fake pizza and Chinese takeout containers on the table behind her. Finally, after someone mentioned a party again (I wasn't paying attention anymore), the doors opened and we made our way into...
The Third Waiting Area
The room emptied into another room that had a bunch of high tech stuff -- digital maps, a computer with an open Cool Edit Pro session, etc. -- where we were greeted by another Universal cast member playing Luda's intern or something. You guys, I can't even begin to explain how hard this ride was trying to have a plot. So Luda pops up on the big screen again and is telling his intern about how the party buses will be here for us (the group) soon, to which I said, "what?"
So hold on, the premise of the ride is that Luda, Dom, and the fam are running a party bus company? I lost track of the movies somewhere between 5 and 6, but is this what they're doing now? I started thinking about the Fast fam and realized that I had never even seen these characters have fun. Even at parties in the first film all they did was stare at each other from across a room, start fights, and awkwardly drink other people's beer without breaking eye contact with them. Honestly, this does not seem like a fun bunch. I wouldn't want to hang out with them if they were real people, let alone get on a party bus with them.
Breaking my deep mental examination of the Fast franchise was a call from the franchise's star -- Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto. Apparently, Dom called Luda while Luda was on a video call with us and his intern (they're trying so hard, you guys), so Luda patched the audio call into the video call and Vin Diesel begins painfully reading lines to us, each of which is followed by what felt like at least five seconds of dead air. A riveting reader he is not.
Anyway, Dom says something like the FBI are raiding the place we're at and that we can't use our cell phones anymore because
if we take pictures of the ride people will see how hard it sucks "Shaw" will track them. After Diesel read the 100-word monologue in his best "I'm contractually obligated to do this" voice, I think Luda re-explained what he said again, then the doors opened and we were on our way into...
The Fourth Waiting Area
The two previous rooms were a nice fakeout on making us think we were about to get on the ride. We were now in a narrow hallway, where one of the Universal employees set a countdown clock on a tablet looking thing attached to a door. I didn't know if this was part of the act that they forgot to explain or just how they time riders for the line.
I have yet to mention that all of the Universal actors working this ride were dressed like scumbag background actors from the first movie. The ones working closest to the ride were even acting like extras from '2 Fast 2 Furious' -- you know, like stereotypical early 2000s gangsta wannabe bro dudes that have special high fives and call each other "dog" and "cuz" exclusively. I was embarrassed for them because I assumed that was part of the schtick, but I just now realized that maybe that's just who they are. Who knows?
However, I had not witnessed this yet. That didn't happen until after the timer expired and we were ushered into...
The Fifth Waiting Area
Are you f***ing kidding me? We're still not getting on the ride yet? The wait time said 15 minutes, and it has easily been 25 (that felt like an hour) by this point. The door opened to a series of ramps that led up to...
The Sixth Waiting Area
So at this point, I started thinking that maybe they have eight waiting areas to represent each film in the franchise. They didn't though because this waiting area would be the last. It took maybe 10 or 15 minutes to get on the ride from there. I don't know -- it's all a blur. This is where I saw the aforementioned bro-dudes though.
So the ride looks like a party bus and has a we-didn't-even-try-to-hide-this mannequin driver behind glass. About 20 or 30 people load onto two of these things and they begin to move through an alley. The Rock pops up on the TV in the bus, and tells us there's an informant on the bus and Shaw is coming. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to protect the informant or what, because the legal standing of these characters is always changing. My initial feeling was that the informant was bad, but it turns out that's why Shaw is after us. They tried to plot so hard, you guys.
Anyway, we pull up to a garage that's filled with 15-20 hologram partiers dancing and stuff. Again, I would never hang out with the Fast fam and I don't know why anyone would. Anyway, the FBI comes in and runs off the partiers, and then Tyrese enters the scene with a few women. He did not start crying and have a breakdown like he does on Twitter, so right away I was a little disappointed.
The FBI wants Tyrese to do something, and then a car (or something) comes up through the floor with hologram Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez standing on top of it. They said some stuff about protecting us, then Vin Diesel said "family" again and I laughed out loud. Seriously, I bet this guy loves it at Olive Garden because when you're there -- you're family. Quick fun fact: Olive Garden has a better plot than this ride.
Next, the ride takes off and you're on the expressway being chased by Shaw, and you're surrounded by V Diddy and The Fam. Now the previous hologram projections of the actor's looked pretty impressive, the video screens outside this portion of the ride did not. Despite being brand new, and probably costing millions of dollars, it looked like we were inside of a first-generation PS3 game or a late PS2 game. The CGI looked cheap... like, Henry Cavill's 'Justice League' mustache cheap.
There were still some cool elements, but there was so much going on at once I didn't know which side of the bus to look out. Groot jumped out of his car on the right, The Rock was standing on a car shooting at something on the left, Tyrese was doing something that wasn't crying or singing 'Sweet Lady' so no one noticed, there was a helicopter attack... it was pretty messy.
Anyway, the ride ended and I vowed never to RSVP to one of Luda's party bus outings again. The ending came with a video where xXx ***SPOILER ALERT*** talks about family again. Had Vin Diesel just said "We are Groot" instead, I would've given this ride a standing ovation. Either way, I was quite impressed by the goodbye video because it looked like they actually had Vin and The Rock in the same room. Again -- contractual obligations probably made that happen.
This ride sucks. It's cringe-worthy in all the wrong ways and made me feel embarrassed just for having been a part of it. Will big fans of the movies love it? I would assume not, but who knows. There's a lot about the appeal of these movies I don't get. Like, how are you going to straight up make the same ass movie as 'Point Break' -- they, literally, just replaced the surfboards with cars -- and then turn it into a James Bond type franchise, but with just the car chases? Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
How to Fix It
Get rid of it. There are so many better uses for this space at Universal. For example, the easiest of which would be to turn it into a 'Big Trouble in Little China' ride. They could turn the party buses into Egg Shen tour buses or The Pork Chop Express. Throw in Jack Burton, The Lords of Death, The Three Storms, that hairy monster thing, and David Lo Pan and you got yourself a ride, man. I mean, Kurt Russell pretty much still looks the same (see GotG Vol. 2), they could pull it off.
I'm glad I wasn't really expecting much from this ride, unlike the kid who sat behind us with his parents. As the ride started, they said he had been waiting three years for that ride. At least he didn't leave empty-handed, he got to take home a valuable life-lesson about things not living up to expectations. Welcome to the real world kid. When you're here -- your family.
Editor's Note: It's entirely possible that I mixed up the order of one or two of the waiting rooms. There was a lot of waiting involved and it's all kind of a blur. You can check out most of the many waiting areas in the video below.