LivingTravelPrepare to race through New York against Jimmy Fallon...

Prepare to race through New York against Jimmy Fallon in 2017

November 2015

Put down your wand Harry Potter. Stop Spider-Man Spider-Man. Smooth the transformation, Optimus Prime. There’s a new hero coming to Universal Orlando: Jimmy Fallon.

Really. (Actually, there are probably a lot of jokes.) The Florida resort and host of The Tonight Show have announced they will join to carry Race through New York, starring Jimmy Fallon, Universal Studios Florida. Opening in 2017, the attraction promises to take visitors on a wild adventure through New York City alongside Fallon.

The folks at Universal have yet to reveal many details about the new ride. Here’s what we know: Audiences will begin the journey by visiting a demo of Studio 6B, The Tonight Show’s Manhattan location. Like the goofy celebrity races Fallon often features on the show, he’ll challenge audience members to compete against him for a special recording. The race will take place on the streets of the city, passing through famous places, falling into the subway and climbing skyscrapers.

In a fun segment of his show, Fallon talks about the new attraction and says it will be like the Harry Potter games and will include 3-D technology. He hints that there will be sensory elements that will likely make it a 4-D attraction (or even “8-D!”). Fallon says his announcer / partner Higgins will be on the trip, as well as the show’s house band, The Roots.

Here is my take on what to expect

This will almost certainly be a media-based motion simulator ride presented in 3-D. It’s unlikely it’s a dark ride, but it’s probably a theater-based simulator ride. It has not been confirmed, but there are strong rumors that the travel system will be similar to the one used for Disney’s Soarin ‘.

I imagine the pre-show, which will recreate the set of The Tonight Show and feature Fallon, Higgins, and The Roots, will use Pepper’s Phantom Illusion. It’s likely to incorporate practical, real pieces and high-definition, high-frame-rate videos that will make Fallon and the other characters on your show look almost real. Race for New York could also use in-person actors, who can act as stage actors or members of the production team, to interact with the virtual Fallon and reinforce the illusion.

If my hunch is correct, the new attraction will be reminiscent of Universal’s Ghostbusters show that used to occupy the space that the Race for New York will use. That attraction featured live performers battling “ghosts” using a massive Pepper’s Ghost illusion. The Ghostbusters were replaced by Twister… Ride It Out, which will close on November 2, 2015, to make way for the Fallon attraction. Located in the park section of New York City, the Midwest-based Twister was never a logical fit; The race through New York, however, will be like home.


Will the ride be good?

The personable and funny TV star may seem like an unlikely character to appear on an E-Ticket attraction. But Fallon is undoubtedly popular and fun. Most of Universal’s games are serious and outsized adventures. While Race for New York will likely feature Universal’s distinctive character on its face and high excitement, it will surely include some lighthearted moments as well. A laugh-filled attraction could be a welcome addition to the resort.

From a marketing and synergy perspective, it makes sense to build on a top-notch NBC TV show (NBC-Universal / Comcast owns the TV network and the parks). Fallon will surely connect his eponymous journey on the show. This is not the first time he has been involved with parks. Fallon’s prerecorded shtick appears on the Studio Tour streetcars at Universal Studios Hollywood.

With recent hits like Transformers: The Ride 3D and Harry Potter and Escape From Gringotts, Universal has played an incredible role. Nothing is certain, but given its track record, I’m willing to bet that the parks’ creative forces will develop another winner.

What about the shelf life? Given the volatility of late-night TV shows, who knows how long Fallon will reign as their king, or is he that clown prince? Could a fickle audience turn Race through New York into an outdated relic in no time? Maybe, but Universal has shown that it can be nimble and will change attractions when necessary. Trading nostalgically, Disney parks feature more timeless characters and attractions and retain most of their attractions for a long time. However, almost none of the original Universal Studios Florida games remain.

Also, if Universal is building a Soarin ‘type theater, it could keep the driving system hardware, but change the show software with relative ease. See what the park has done with the motion simulation theater just one block from where Race through New York will be located. When Universal Studios Florida first opened, it hosted The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. It later changed to Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast and most recently morphed into the (wonderful) attraction Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

The theater itself has remained more or less intact through all the changes.

Fallon’s ride is part of an incredible explosion of new Universal Orlando products. In 2016, Skull Island: Reign of Kong will open at Islands of Adventure. He will also open his fourth hotel, Sapphire Falls. 2017 will be a disaster. In addition to the New York race, Universal Studios Florida will welcome the superduper Fast & Furious: Supercharged, and the resort will open its first on-property water park, Volcano Bay.

Skull Island: Reinado of King Kong and Islands of Adventure

Can you survive the long and dangerous journey to a mysterious island where prehistoric predators and other creepy creatures are waiting for you?

Visiting Universal Orlando in January

If you want to enjoy Universal Orlando when it's less crowded and when Florida's weather is cooler and more welcoming, head to its theme parks and

Spring Break Survival Tips in Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando is packed with visitors during Spring Break, thanks to great specials geared toward families, couples, and

Islands of Adventure theme park highlights

Islands of Adventure is one of two theme parks at Universal Orlando, known for its thrilling rides, but also offering excellent

Help with your tax return

Looking for free tax help in the Orlando area? For local help and advice on completing your tax return this