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Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Ride Review
I was lucky enough to visit Universal Studios on a day that the ride Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was having a soft opening/technical rehearsal. I visited during spring break, I was very lucky I was even able to land a spot in line. I registered for the virtual tickets around noon and by 5pm all spots were filled.
They weren’t exactly announcing to guests that the ride was open for technical rehearsal, I just saw people going in and so I asked about it. On that day all the virtual tickets were gone but I was advised how to register for virtual tickets the following day. As soon as I got into the park the following day, I opened the Universal app, clicked on Rides, clicked on Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, scrolled the bar to show two tickets, selected my times (I selected 3:50 -4:50) and clicked register. The app thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about – thought it about it for so long that my screen eventually went into sleep mode. A little frustrating considering I was using the Wi-Fi provided by the park. Finally, while standing in line to purchase an XXXS Harry Potter robe in an overpacked Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions shop, I finally got my confirmation! Update: After checking out some recent videos on Youtube, it looks like they have added physical kiosks at the ride entrance so you won’t have to rely solely on the Universal App to register for the virtual tickets. I’m not sure how the virtual ticket and check-in for return times would work in that case.
Although there was no announcement to park visitors that the ride was open for technical rehearsal, when I checked the app to change my registration time all the available time slots were gone by 5pm. I can only imagine how fast those time slots will fill when they are announced to the public how to get virtual tickets. So rather than have a 90min+ wait time (like with most popular rides), you just won’t be able to ride at all that day. I’m not sure if I like that idea or not. Yes, the virtual tickets allow for greater control over the crowd and removes the dreaded 90min+ wait time and having to have people lined up around the building to ride but completely cutting out the chances for someone to ride because they couldn’t get the app to register fast enough because of a slow connection or unable to run to the kiosk as soon as the park opens to secure their place in line seems a little unfair. Hopefully, maybe, they’ll still allow for ‘line’ and allow the virtual ticket to act more like a ‘express pass’ maybe. But then that would defeat the purpose of the express pass – or maybe I’m thinking way too hard about all this.
The ride is located a little past the Rip Ride Rocket rollercoaster but before you pass the Mummy ride in the New York area. There are seats outside so you can make sure you can fit comfortably, along with seatbelts to ensure you can strap yourself in. The seats are replicas of the seats in the Tonight Show studio with its red cushioning and tan trim. Adjacent to the entrance of the ride is – of course – the gift shop. The NBC The Tonight Shop has your typical themed merchandise and flat screens showing Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show skits.
When our registered time came around, we pulled up the app, clicked on Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon, clicked on our register tickets and had them scanned by the staff member. All this occurred outside the building, there were only two attendants at the time and there were no ropes to create a line just in case a lot of people showed up. We were able to enter five minutes before our scheduled time to maybe that’s why there wasn’t much of a line when we got there. We entered the building and went down a hall with posters for NBC shows that lead us into the first floor waiting area. We were greeted by another staff member that was behind a counter who handed us our show tickets. The tickets are color coded and when the lights change to your color you’ll move to the second floor, then wait on your color again, and then proceed to the entrance for the ride. At least that’s the instructions that were on the ticket, what actually happened is that the lights turned our color on the first floor and the second floor at the same time. So, the ticket is a little misleading unless that was an ‘oops’ (which cut down waiting time in our favor) during the technical rehearsal. The first floor displays the Tonight Show memorabilia throughout the seasons and by the various hosts. The second floor is the more lounge area with couches and games to play. There’s also live entertainment provided by the Ragtime Gals (even though their guys) barbershop quartet that mimics Jimmy Fallon’s skit ‘History of Rap’. #ThePanda made a very short appearance and we were lucky enough to give him love hugs when we reached the second floor.
A note for parents with kids that don’t understand the importance of using the bathroom before getting in line: Although the two-story lounge area has elevators and is big enough to have a bathroom – there isn’t one. Something I found out when my son started asking about one as SOON as we were handed our tickets. The closest bathroom is out the building, past the gift shop and around the corner. Fortunately, the staff member was nice enough to hold our tickets until we returned. And returning wasn’t a hassle, we told the outside attendant that we were already in but needed to do a bathroom run and she let us right in – no rescanning of the virtual ticket from the app.
Once you go through these waiting areas, you’re lined into a hallway to pick up your 3d glasses – which look exactly like the 3d glasses for Transformers the Ride. The lined into rows for seating as you watch Jimmy Fallon do his introduction and The Roots band rap the warnings and safety precautions. And finally, your released into the auditorium to experience the ride.
The auditorium is dimly lighted and much smaller than I expected it to be and had stacked seating. The stacked seating is great for shorter riders like myself and younger kids – this way we can see everything without someone’s head being in the way. The arm rests between the seats are single, not double, so you could grab onto someone’s arm if you need to brace yourself but you also have an option to brace the bar in front of you. You strap yourself in via seatbelts and are asked to tug on a pull by a staff member to ensure you’re strapped in. The oversized screen is concaved and covered by curtains.
When the ride begins, the curtains are drawn back and you’re on the Tonight Show stage with Jimmy Fallon and his show crew. He challenges you to a race through New York City and winner receives a trophy. He hops in his car and you take off – and when I say you take off – I mean you really do feel like you’re driving in a fast car. You race through the studio, through the streets of New York city, a subway, under water, around and above the statue of liberty, around the Empire State Building (where a King Kong sized #ThePanda is swatting at planes), into outer space and back to the studio. Of course, it’s neck and neck when close to the finish line but the audience wins (no, you don’t get to leave with the trophy or any trophy). Throughout the race are cameo appearances by the Tonight Show crew and Jimmy Fallon dressed as various characters he portrays on the show. Once the ride ends, the seatbelts automatically release and exit through the NBC Tonight Shop.
Again, this all occurred during the soft opening/technical rehearsal so procedures are subject to change. I found the ride to be suitable for just about everyone, it wasn’t intense, although some scenes did make my stomach tickle. For someone with limited experience with 3D motion rides, it is a great ride but for most us that have gone through Shrek, Despicable Me, Skull Island, Transformers, Spiderman, Soarin’, Star Tours, both Harry Potter rides and many others - Race through New York starring Jimmy Fallon isn’t a great, impressive ride but it is a good solid fun ride that visitors of all ages will enjoy!