On April 6th, the newest attraction at Universal Orlando, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, will officially open to the public. This attraction will take you through the famous Studio 6B of The Tonight Show and put you on a wild race through New York City versus Jimmy Fallon himself. This multi-dimensional “flying theater” is the first of its kind in the area and features a quite unique queue unlike anything Universal has built before. Race Through New York is just one of many new experiences to come to the resort in recent years. The attraction is currently operating on a technical rehearsal, and World Of Universal blog writer, Tyler Murillo, was lucky enough to experience the ride in person. This review will be broken into four categories: Queue, Storyline, Ride Experience, and Overall Opinion, as well as a brief synopsis of Race Through New York.
NOTE: This post may contain spoilers.
The queue for Race Through New York is perhaps the most interesting in the park. Upon entering the main floor lobby, you are given a color-coded NBC logo card; the lights on the ceiling correspond to the card color.
The first floor of the queue features a history of The Tonight Show, highlighting all of the hosts in the show’s long history. All hosts have a window display on each side of the room filled with props from their run on the show. The open floor plan of the first room allows for freedom of movement, unlike a normal line. Once the lights change to your particular color (indicated on the NBC card), you may proceed to the upstairs portion.
The second floor, also known as the Studio 6B lounge, is the best part of the “queue.” This grand room features long couches for you to sit down and relax (there are even plugs to charge your phone), large table-sized touchscreens for you to play Jimmy Fallon-themed games and write “Thank-you Notes,” and, of course, a stage that hosts live entertainment. Much like the first floor, this room is very large; there is plenty of room to wander around. It is very enjoyable and very much a departure from the traditional waiting process, as time really does fly by while in the lounge. The stage at the end of the room hosts performances from the barbershop quartet group “The Rag Time Gals,” who use old-school quartet singing mixed with popular songs from today, and Hashtag the dancing Panda. From this point, the lights will once again change to the color of your group’s card, alerting you that you are to proceed (this will lead you to the attraction’s theater).
Note: This ride utilizes a Virtual Line system. Guests can head to the ticket screens located just off the main entrance or use the official Universal Orlando Resort app and select a return time and their party size; guests will return to the attraction entrance at the time received. This system was not up and running at the time of my riding.
As the ride title suggests, Jimmy Fallon challenges his studio audience to a race through New York City. Using a special vehicle called “the Tonight Rider,” Fallon takes guests on a crazy course through some of New York’s most iconic landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and even as far as the moon. The story of the ride is not that evident in either of the queue rooms but is finally touched upon in the pre-ride video where safety instructions are mentioned. Images of the Tonight Rider adorn the walls of the lounge right in front of the entrance to the theater.
As for the ride itself, park guests are split into one of two theater rooms (to maximize capacity) and receive a pair of 3D glasses along the way. The theater features multiple rows for you to sit in a setup that looks almost identical to the actual Tonight Show studio audience seating. Unlike other simulator experiences in the park, Race Through New York utilizes the entire theater seat arrangement in motion at once; whereas, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has individual cars that move in unison with a large 3D screen. Race Through New York uses what Universal calls a “flying theater,” a ride design that simply has a motion base attached to the bottom of the seating platform and simulates the feeling of flying. While the name suggests that the ride is similar to Soarin’ at EPCOT, this attraction never elevates off the ground. You can click here to read our previous post discussing Race Through New York’s ride technology.
The seats for the ride are not L-shaped like normal chairs, rather, they are more sunken into a V shape. The seat belts coupled with the side of the chairs make it a tight fit. Guests of larger dimensions should check out the test seat in front of the attraction before boarding, as the seats are snug.
The ride, as mentioned earlier, features a race through many locations in New York City. Along the way, many of the characters from The Tonight Show make an appearance. I won’t go into too much detail as to what happens on the ride, but the experience can best be described as both zany and enjoyable. Once the ride comes to a stop, guests exit to the glasses drop-off bin and proceed downstairs to The Tonight Shop.
Going into the ride, I knew that it was not going to be anything too incredible, as there was only so much Universal could do with the old Twister building. Having said that, there are many things I was impressed with about the attraction.
The facade really ties in well with the rest of the New York area of the park. This cohesion was lacking on Twister, as both the IP and the bare soundstage seemed out of place for that section of Universal Studios Florida. Seeing the 30 Rockefeller Tower is refreshing and seeing the soundstages covered in theming is a trend continuing with Universal rides (Fast & Furious included).
The queue itself was the most stunning part of the attraction. This may sound like a bad thing, but Universal really knocked it out of the park. The queue was engaging and entertaining; it honestly feels like you are walking through the halls of 30 Rock Tower rather than waiting in line. The color code system is also smooth and easy to follow. I would like to see more rides employ this kind of freedom in a queue.
The simulator was not as intense in motion as something like TRANSFORMERS: The Ride—3D. I would say that it does give the sensation of flying even if the theater doesn’t rise off the ground. The tech on this ride, while interesting, is not anything new, especially in a park dominated by simulators. One drawback of this attraction is if you do not watch Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show or if you don’t really understand his humor; this can cause the ride to make little sense, as Race Through New York makes many references to the show.
Overall, I did enjoy the ride. It is another simulator so if you aren’t a fan of them then this ride probably won’t impress you. That is OK, however, because this attraction was never meant to be on the level of something like Harry Potter. It is simply a filler attraction meant to replace an older ride with a new experience. The queue is quite amazing and is definitely worth checking out. The ride is actually fun and pretty smooth. For what it is, I think the ride does exactly what it is supposed to do for the park, and it is a welcome addition to the ride roster. I am looking forward to the next big addition to the resort! You can count on World Of Universal to be there when they come.