Universal Studios Florida’s newest attraction, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, has gotten mixed reviews, so we set out to see for ourselves.
The queue-less experience and the pre-show areas get a lot of points. All guests, except those with Express passes, must first be assigned a virtual line reservation time via Universal’s smartphone app or an automated kiosk (similar to Disney’s old FastPass dispensers). This is the first attraction at Universal Orlando to feature a virtual line experience. We strongly recommend you make the virtual line reservation, as a standby line won’t be available. If you visit and all virtual line reservation times are gone, you can try returning late in the evening to see if the ride has opened a standby line.
Once your appointed time arrives, return to the ride entrance. Upon entering the building, guests are transported to a replica of NBC’s historic New York City offices at 30 Rockefeller Center. We love the attention to detail here—Art Deco touches and all.
You will be directed to the first lobby of the NBC offices. An NBC Page will hand you a color-coded card. Hold on to it, and take time to enjoy the artifacts in this first area, as the Tonight Show pays tribute to Steve Allen, Jack Parr, and Conan O’Brien throughout several displays.
When the lobby lights change to the color of your card, that is your cue to move to the building’s next floor. You can do so using the stairs or an elevator.
Next, you await your ride in a fancy lounge featuring couches and touchscreen tables with video games from the show. These will be updated going forward to stay current.
The main attractions, however, are the live appearances by the Ragtime Gals barbershop quintet and Hashtag the Panda. Enjoy the musical performances till it is your time to ride.
The barbershop quintet is simply amazing. It is a relief to enjoy live entertainment versus animatronics, to get your picture taken with Hashtag the Panda, or to simply sit in one of the comfortable couches and relax in an air-conditioned room while you wait. For those with a power emergency, go for one of the USB charging stations in the lounge!
When the color of the lights changes once more, it is time for you to make your way to Jimmy Fallon’s studio. Here, the star of the show will share safety guidelines before you enter a theater with a large screen.
There are two theaters, each seating 72 guests (12 across in 6 rows). The space between the rows is narrow and forces Cast Members to lean inside the ride vehicle to check if each restraint is securely fastened. We found this time-consuming and irritating.
Next, we found ourselves racing against Jimmy Fallon, starting at the studio of The Tonight Show and continuing through the streets of New York and eventually to the moon. Fans create wind effects, and there are faint pizza smells, in addition to the obligatory water spray. After all, it’s Universal!
The attraction is in 3-D and requires 3-D glasses. The moving platform is very smooth, and the ride is rather on the tame side. The experience is comparable to Despicable Me and a little less wild than the Simpsons Ride.
The ride is silly and fun, and it features many characters from the Tonight Show. It helps if you know the show—and appreciate Jimmy’s humor—but it is not a must.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon replaces the Twister ride, blending in much better with the New York street scene at Universal Studios. We liked the attraction, but we are concerned that Universal is getting too attached to screens and 3-D rides.
For in-depth information on all rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando by Seth Kubersky.