Engine revving, bus lurching, Fast & Furious roars to life at Universal Orlando

Fast and Furious: Supercharged has opened at Universal Orlando.
Fast and Furious: Supercharged has opened at Universal Orlando.

Fast and Furious — Supercharged, a wild street chase through the streets of Los Angeles simulated on giant projection screens, has opened at Universal Studios in Orlando, more than a week ahead of an opening celebration that will be attended by actors from the movie series that inspired the ride.

The ride had been in technical rehearsal — when an attraction is open to the public off and on during final testing — for about a week. The opening date had not been announced, but a media preview had been scheduled May 2. Then on Monday, the park announced on its blog that the ride was officially open and that a star-studded opening celebration would be held on May 2.

Theme parks usually want new attractions open before the start of the busy summer season. Last year, Universal opened its new water park, Volcano Bay, and Disney World opened Pandora, the land based on the “Avatar” movie, the week before Memorial Day.

The opening comes about 2 1/2 years after Beetlejuice’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue closed to make room for it — Disaster! closed in September, 2015, the month after the new ride was announced, and Beetlejuice’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue, closed in January 2016.

Universal’s creative team had eight movies, two video shorts and a ride at Universal Studios Hollywood as inspiration. The Orlando ride has its own original story line, but draws from the California ride as well. The technology of the ride isn’t ground-breaking. Its setup is similar to the Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride next door at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The attraction begins in the Supercharged building, a car shop that is the base of operations for Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the Fast and Furious "family,” where visitors can explore settings and about a dozen cars from the movie. There, Dom invites the crowd to be his guests at a race after-party, and they board party buses much like the ones used in Skull Island.

But Owen Shaw, the family’s nemesis, tracks down the guests and goes after their buses, while the Fast and Furious crew tries to fend off Shaw and his gang.

“You’re on a high-speed chase, you know,” said Luke Evans, who plays Shaw, describing the ride in a promotional video. “You’re being threatened, you’re being shot at — flamethrowers, drones, guns, crashes.”

Fast and Furious will be the park's second ride to have virtual lines, offered first on Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York. Guests can reserve a specific time to see the attraction at no charge, either at kiosks near the ride entrance or on the Universal app, or they can wait in the standby line.

The Custom Gear shop selling Fast and Furious clothing, hats, mugs and other “Family Forever” merchandise opened months ago at Universal Studios.