Universal Studios Florida's newest attraction, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, began hosting technical rehearsals (also known as soft-opening) on March 2, 2017. The first reviews of this new ride have been mixed, as many have been praising the new queue-less experience and the pre-show areas while lamenting the fact that the attraction itself is just another simulator ride that has a silly storyline and does not add anything unique to the park. Today we are going to share with you our opinion.


Before beginning, we would like to remind you once again that the ride was in technical rehearsals during our visit; therefore, some of the issues mentioned in this review might be gone by the time the ride officially opens to the public in April. In addition to that, the review reflects our personal thoughts. Your mileage may vary.

To make it easier to follow, we chose to divide our review in five sections, starting from the outside and working our way into the building. As we proceed, we will describe the experience and comment on what we saw.

Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers - - Spoilers

EXTERIOR OF THE RIDE
Compared to the exterior facade of Twister, we can all agree that the new facade of Race Through New York definitely improves the look of the area and actually fits in the New York City backlot of the park. Of course, like most of you, we find it unfortunate that Universal chose not to cover the entirety of the showbuilding, leaving a large portion of the Soundstage exposed. We still can't fully comprehend (or agree with) this approach.

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All that being said, this can (and should) be considered a positive change. Even those who completely despise the ride will find this area more pleasing to the eyes and more fitting for this particular section of the park.

ENTRANCE/LOBBY AREA
Under the new awning with the sign of the attraction, Team Members welcome Guests to come in and enjoy an "exclusive taping" of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. During technical rehearsals, Team Members constantly updated a sign showing the current wait time (our wait time was supposed to be 75 minutes, but we ended up waiting less than 25 minutes).

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Once inside, Guests follow a long walkway similar to that of Twister. As they turn around the corner, they will find a spacious lobby area with a desk. Here, Team Member hand out tickets that feature one of the six colors of the NBC logo. As they wait, they can explore a small exhibit featuring items related to The Tonight Show, including props used by former hosts of the show.

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After a few minutes, the colors of the light fixtures around the lobby area will change, revealing the color of the next group that will be able to head to the next pre-show area. Once technical rehearsals are over, we expect to see Team Members checking Guests' return time tickets and then directing them to the second floor.

We personally enjoyed this first part of our experience. While we had very little time to explore the first floor, time went by fairly quickly thanks to the exhibit and the details that can be seen around the building. Not having to stand in line definitely feels like a breath of fresh air in the theme park world. That's why FastPass+ and Express are so popular with Guests. Now, with Race Through New York, all park Guests will be able to experience at least one attraction that doesn't involve waiting in a never-ending queue.

PRESHOW
Once the color of you ticket matches that of the light fixtures and the large NBC logo by the staircase, you (and all other Guests with a similar ticket) are invited to make your way to the second floor. There is where Guests will spend the majority of their time waiting. But don't worry, time will fly.

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Indeed, this even roomier area includes a lot of offerings that Guests can enjoy while waiting, including:
  • A large seating area with USB ports to charge electronic devices;
  • A meet & greet with the playful Hashtag the Panda;
  • Interactive games that are themed after The Tonight Show;
  • Multiple video screens showing some of the funniest Jimmy Fallon moments;
  • Live performances of the Ragtime Gals (very similar to the Dapper Dans);
  • A "view" of the New York City skyline that includes some interesting details.
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We spent about 20-25 minutes in this area, and we have to admit that time went by really fast, and we actually just stood in front of the stage to enjoy videos and only part of a performance of the Ragtime Gals (who are very talented, by the way). Here, Guests have the freedom to choose what to do while they wait. This is something that we truly enjoyed, as it's nice to be able to sit down and relax while waiting to ride. Also, it's great being able to enjoy a live performance while being virtually in line for an attraction.

RIDE PORTION
Once the color of the light fixtures changes to match the color of your ticket, Guests make their way to the "Studio Entrance," where a Team Member collects the tickets. After that, Guests walk into a small line (where they will wait 5-10 minutes) before heading to the loading area. In the loading area, Jimmy Fallon will share safety guidelines for the attraction in a quite unique way.

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Upon entering, Guests find a small theater with a very large screen (it looks even larger in such a small room). Like others have stated, the seats are not very comfortable, but we didn't find them that bad, especially when comparing them to the seats of attractions like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or (ugh!) the Barnstormer.

What we found to be incredibly wrong is the way Team members have to check restraints. You see, this is one of the very rare cases in which a Universal attraction uses seat belts instead of lap bars. Not having any room to walk between rows, Team Members have to lean forward inside the ride vehicle and check each restraint from either end of the platform using a small flashlight. For about ten minutes we heard them calling Guests and telling them to pull the red strap to check that the seat belt is fastened correctly. Poor design, indeed.

Once the ride starts, we find ourselves racing against Jimmy Fallon, starting from the studio of The Tonight Show (sadly, we never felt like we were actually inside a studio due to the look of the theater). What follows is an incredibly silly race through the streets of New York (and... the moon?!) that includes encounters with funny characters (all portrayed by Jimmy Fallon and other famous people) and special effects (yes, including the ever-present water effect).

The moving platform is amazingly smooth, making it the tamest simulator on property. That said, there's a portion that feels quite thrilling toward the end of the ride. We have to say that we enjoyed it, but we understand why some feel like it's an underwhelming attraction. The story is very cheesy, but so is the feel that we get when watching some portions of The Tonight Show. Also, we happen to like Jimmy Fallon's humor, so that may make a difference in the way we "feel" toward the experience.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Overall, we can say that we enjoyed the ride and that we believe that this is attraction is much superior to the tired Twister. At first, we were not happy to hear that an attraction featuring physical effects and props was going to be replaced by yet another "SCREENZ"-based attraction, especially since the Universal Orlando Resort seems to be getting too attached to screens and 3-D rides. That said, the final result is a very high-quality pre-show experience followed by a ride that managed to put a smile on our face, despite having flaws.

Will we ride it every single time we visit the park? Probably not, but it's a new offering that we will definitely want to enjoy much more often than other attractions like Shrek 4-D. Now, what about you? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions about this brand-new Universal Studios Florida attraction.

5 Comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Universal has been my preferred choice of park for the last 15-20 years, but as you have mentioned alot of the park rides now involve screens, which I understand are cheaper to make and use less space, however they all start to blend in and become much the same.
Also has universal ever thought about people with motion sickness as screens is a major problem for friends of mine, might only be a low percentage of people but it's still lost revenue.
Starting to worry as Nintendo land is also expected to be screen based so I'm hearing, need to add a coaster ride somewhere in the park.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, my dad can't ride anything because he gets motion sickness and he doesn't want to visit the park because there's not enough for him to do anymore.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the ride could be easily re-themed to something more interesting in the future? (Like how Back to the Future was to The Simpsons Ride)

Anonymous said...

IF THERE GOING TO STICK WITH THIS 3D IDEA CAN'T THEY MAKE IT LIVE SPIDERMAN WHERE your actually moving and it feels like a ride. I got a feeling that this fast and furious ride is a screen simulator. Probably the same crapy ride that's at Hollywood universal. Just like King Kong. All they did was take the film from Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate the revolutionary new queue. Everyone should adopt this method for major attractions.

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