Hang on for a wild ride.
The ride, known only as Project 409 at this point, will begin in the park’s upper lot, descend into the lower lot, and then return to the station after looping around the Starway escalator. That much we already knew thanks to a geotechnical permit obtained by Alicia Stella of Theme Park Stop.
Information released by the park itself has been far less specific.
“Equipped with a state-of-the-art ride system uniquely created to engulf guests within the dynamic ‘Fast & Furious’ universe, this all-new roller coaster will benefit from Universal Destinations & Experiences’ decades-long expertise in revolutionizing the development of the contemporary roller coaster across its global theme park destinations,” Universal Studios said in its July announcement.
To make way for the new coaster, Universal Studios took a wrecking ball to its popular Animal Actors and Special Effects show venues. KTLA’s helicopter recently captured footage of the construction, which is still in its infancy.
Now, thanks to great investigative work from an administrator of parkfans.net, we can see the ride’s anticipated footprint and track layout.
WARNING: Spoilers Below!
Based on the plan, it appears the coaster -as expected- will launch riders from a station in the upper lot into a series of high-speed banked turns and drops through the lower lot adjacent to Kirk Douglas Drive and just south of Jurassic World – The Ride. The first part of the coaster also appears to include a large corkscrew.
Then, in one of the biggest thrills, riders are launched into what looks like a “dive drop” type of inversion next to a parking lot that sends the train hurling back toward the east at ground level.
After at least two more anticipated launches and inversions, including a loop around the Starway escalator, the ride comes to an end.
Zachary Strader, a self-described “professional fact finder” and “theme park whisperer,” told KTLA how he obtained the plan.
“[It] was included in a large collection of documentation I pulled directly from a governmental agency that Universal Creative is required to work with ahead of any major site disturbance at Universal Studios Hollywood,” he told us. “It’s always impossible to assert that what I’m looking at is the final plan as things can change during development. That said, I can say with confidence that the plans in question depict what Universal Creative requested permission to construct as of May 2023.”
Assuming the plan is accurate, there are still many unknowns including theming, the queue, indoor and outdoor features, and the type of cars. But the track design itself, Strader says, can tell us a lot.
“Given that we can see a top-down perspective … there is far less uncertainty here than with other similar project leaks in the past. We instantly know track locations and rotations. That only really leaves heights and speeds unknown.”
Strader created a composite map showing the track over a satellite image of the existing area and several other ParkFans members created impressive 3D animations of the coaster – or at least what they think it will look like.
Based on mysterious (possibly leaked) concept art posted online last year, bloggers also suspect the cars might “drift” on the track to replicate the movement of racers in the “Fast & Furious” films.
Strader says the new coaster appears to be designed by Intamin, a Liechtenstein-based company that has been building coasters since the 1960s. (Liechtenstein is a tiny nation wedged between Switzerland and Austria).
Intamin developed the world’s first hydraulic launch system, including the one used to send riders from 0 to 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds on Kingda Ka, North America’s tallest and fastest coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
But one thing is for certain: the coaster will be easily visible from the 101 Freeway so thousands of L.A. drivers can watch it take shape over the coming months.
Universal Studios Hollywood has not yet released a projected opening date.