PHOTO: Entrance to Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. (photo by Erik Yates)
Universal Orlando is about to have an amazing year. Not only are they opening a water park that will change just about everything—Volcano Bay launches in May—but they are also bringing the Tonight Show to Florida in a big way.
The new ride, Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York, will have its grand opening on April 6th.
Guests will be able to roar through the streets of New York and take advantage of Universal’s first virtual queue system. While the ride isn’t fully operational yet, the park has begun technical rehearsals for the attraction, and we just happened to get a good look at what you can expect.
So, what exactly is a technical rehearsal? That's a soft open when a theme park gives guests access to the ride before it officially launches.
This allows guests to experience the attraction, but also gives the park time to properly train staff and tweak any changes that need to happen before the ride actually opens. Technical rehearsals may not have all the working effects or may have something that needs to be adjusted further. Technical rehearsals are also not guaranteed, meaning they may not open the ride at all.
It’s all just a matter of luck. Sometimes, you’ll be able to ride the attraction multiple times, or you may wait around to not ride at all.
Race Through New York is actually two attractions in one: First, it uses 3D screens and a new “flying theater” technology. You move in sync with the action on the screen during a new CGI race against Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon through and above the streets of New York.
The ride features tons of special effects, including smells and water effects. If you’re looking for a comparison, it’s closest to Star Tours at Disney. NOTE: It is a family ride, though it does have some scary moments.
This is unlike any line you’ve ever seen before, as there really is no line. Instead, you get a color-coded NBC Peacock as you enter. Once your color is called, you go upstairs to a second waiting area, and then when your color is called again, you wait again.
Doesn’t sound like fun, until you realize the entire first-floor area is a giant Tonight Show Museum with tons of activities!
Here we see every single host of the Tonight Show, from Steve Allen and Johnny Carson all the way to Conan O’Brien, (who had the shortest run in show history). From props and suits, this place is a stunning recreation of the famed 30 Rock building in New York City.
Once your color is called for the final time, you head upstairs for an interactive waiting period amid interactions with the Tonight Show mascot, Hashtag the Panda. There’s also screens for activities, and you can even write “Thank you” notes to your friends and send them out. A favorite of many guests so far are the performances by The Ragtime Gals, a barbershop quartet that sings a variety of songs.
There is so much to explore while you wait, it actually becomes a part of the attraction.
An official grand opening will happen on April 6th, which will be celebrated by tapings of The Tonight Show at Universal Orlando. The tapings are always fun, as Jimmy Fallon brings tons of celebrity guests.