the studio

The Fast & The Furious: Extreme Close-Up

New Attraction Now Open
Photo copyright Coaster Realm Network ( 16 June 2006

Launched on the 15th June 2006, The Fast and the Furious Extreme Close-Up offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a thrilling special effects sequence for an a high-octane action movie. Are you ready for Stage 55?

Fast and the Furious - Tokyo DriftA visually spectacular chase sequence inspired by the much anticipated “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” film is an exciting new addition to the Studio Tour. Utilizing advanced robotics and state-of-the-art computer-generated “previsualization” technology -- a technique used to define and refine complicated chase sequences -- the new tram experience will thrust guests into “in–your-face” close-up range of the pulse-pounding, rubber-burning underground world of drift street racing.

Guests will be mesmerized with an awesome display of explosive action as two drift-racing vehicles, each attached to gigantic robotic arms, careen alarmingly out of control, approaching the Studio Tour trams at speeds of up to 45 mph. Upon impact, the cars explode in a plume of fire and smoke which is dispersed 25 feet in the air and completely envelops the 10,000 sq ft. outdoor arena.
The specially-rigged cars each weigh only 500-lbs (compared to the 3,300 lbs. weight of an actual vehicle). The vehicles have been stripped and designed to accommodate the nimble motion control required for breathtakingly-orchestrated movements.

In a grand finale, the experience culminates in a dexterous “automotive dance demonstration” of intricate programming set to a toe-tapping hip-hop beat, facilitated by a revolutionary motion control simulation system.

Universal Studios Hollywood press release, 2006

Photos copyright Coaster Realm Network (

Photo1: Exterior of Stage 55
Stage 55 exterior

Photo 2
Cars lined up ready for the demonstration

Photo 3

The tram enters the stunt demonstration arena - the new outdoor Stage 55 at Universal Studios Hollywood. As the demonstration commences, an overhead helicopter shoots at the cars, spraying up water as the bullets hit the pavement. Suddenly, a stray bullet hits a gas tank causing a massive explosion hurling the cars towards the tram.

Photo 4
Photo copyright Coaster Realm Network (

Quicktime - 1 minute - 9Mb

The Fast and the Furious: Extreme Close-Up artwork
Official publicity artwork for the new attraction - April 2006

As with all new attractions, a period of "tweaking" happens over the first few months of operation. The tour guide spiel has evolved so that instead of describing the difficult concepts of "pre-visualisation", the guides just hand over to a "stunt director" who takes us through a "rehearsal" and then a "take". Even two months after operation, occasionally one of the robot arms needs a bit of a rest, as can be seen in the photo below.

One of the cars having a rest - 26 August 2006 - Photo courtesy Brian Lau
One of the cars having a rest - 26 August 2006 - Photo courtesy Brian Lau

The Fast and The Furious attraction started contruction in March 2006, and opened on 15 June 2006. The area was formerly occupied by a model used in Dante's Peak. The area immediately before the attraction which is now known as the Transportation Department was previously the Greens Department, with some displays of foam rubber trees. The trees are still there, but are now in the Jurassic Park area. In reality, the Greens Department hasn't moved - the tour guides no longer refer to it. The actual Transportation Department is elsewhere on the backlot - next to the Prop Warehouse beyond the Square of Warriors.

The computer-controlled robotic arms featured in the attraction went through exhaustive testing, with the final stages taking place in the cinema surface parking lot below the Curious George parking structure (photos below).

One of the three robot arms with lightweight carbon-fibre car chassis attached,
being tested in the parking lot, April 2006
Photo 2
The car can be seen to be a lightweight structure, April 2006

Quicktime movie of car being tested, April 2006 (1Mb Quicktime movie)

Under Construction
The Fast and the Furious: Extreme Close-Up under construction , April 2006

Construction continues
A few days later, steel uprights are in place, April 2006

From mid April the construction area became a no-go zone for Tram tours, as asphalt is poured, robots and control systems are installed, walls are built and picture cars rolled into place for the exhibition area before the main attraction.

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