The Casual Runner

Jimmy Fallon: Race Through New York

Jimmy Fallon: Race Through New York

Universal Studios Orlando

Casual Runners know that while running is a part of our lives, it is not our entire lives. Better yet, as Casual Running allows us to be healthier and live more active lifestyles, it allows us to experience new and wonderful adventures. In this special series, we will look at fun Casual Adventures that our Team takes on when we are away from our training, even if its only for a day or two! And remember, adventure is out there!

Check out other installments in our Casual Adventurer Series by clicking here.

The Setup

There is a new kid in town as Orlando’s already amazing lineup of thrilling theme park attractions expanded with the opening of Jimmy Fallon: Race Through New York. We were treated to a special sneak peak of this attraction before it opened and wanted to bring you the what’s, why’s, how’s, and why not’s of this newest attraction at Universal Studios Orlando. So let’s go for a little ride!

The Scene of the Adventure

The attraction is located in Universal Studios Orlando. For those not familiar with these parks, Universal Orlando Resort has two parks: Studios and Islands of Adventure.  The ride is open daily during normal park hours.

The entrance to the attraction is surprisingly subtle, which means you can easily overlook it as you make a direct path towards the back of the park to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. Keep an eye out on your left just beyond Universal’s main concert stage for the New York City style buildings that mimic the NBC Studios.

Adventuring the Adventure

The evolutionary concept of this attraction is that it shuns the traditional rider lines, instead opting for a virtual queue. This is the part that may confuse some guests.

To gain access to the ride you can get a scheduled return time in one of two ways. You can use your smartphone to download the Universal Parks App, which you can use to schedule a return time once you are inside the park (this feature currently does not work unless you are inside of Studios, so if you start your day at Islands of Adventure and plan on hopping over to Studios later in the day, you will have to wait to reserve your ride time). Alternately, you can go to the kiosks set up outside of the attraction and reserve a ride time there.

When you enter at your assigned time, you will enter the building, which is themed to replicate NBC’s New York Studios, right down to the NBC Page uniforms for the attraction’s team members. The main floor contains exhibits celebrating the history of NBC’s Tonight Show and its past hosts. You will go up to the second level to a holding area that, instead of lines and queues, offers guests couches and touch screen display video games while you wait for your group’s assigned color to be called via a series of lighted panels.

Just because Universal dispenses with the classic ride queue does not mean that they dispensed with the wait altogether, but we applaud them for trying something new to entertain their guests in this way.

Once your group’s assigned color is called, you make your way into yet another holding area that has a more traditional queue, where you will be treated to the required safety video. However, do not fret, Jimmy Fallon puts his own stamp on this as he presents one of the more entertaining safety videos we have seen yet. Don’t worry, we won’t give you any spoilers here.

Adventure Awaits!

Next you will enter a theater that holds the actual ride vehicle. You will take a seat in one of several long rows of seats and put on your seat belt. The best way I can explain the ride vehicle is that it is like Disney’s Soarin attraction, but hopped up on a crazy combination of steroids and pure sugar. When the attraction starts, the entire theater will raise up on a giant arm in front of a large 3D movie screen, and then move in coordination with the ride video. Unlike Soarin, however, the ride mechanism has a floor so your feet remain firmly planted throughout the experience.

The ride concept is that Jimmy Fallon is taking guests from his studio audience along in a lighthearted road race through the streets of New York City (and elsewhere). So expect fast movements, lots of Easter Eggs, and plenty of lighthearted humor and whimsy throughout your race experience. Oh, and lots of puns, we LOVE the puns.

When the ride comes to an end the theater will return to its reset position and guests will, of course, exit through a gift shop.

Adventure Tips

There are a couple of things that you should know if you want to ride this attraction.

Like many Universal attractions, even if you are otherwise physically able to ride, if you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to skip this attraction. Ok, you have been warned. I found the ride to be better than other rides that make me nauseous (like the Simpsons ride), but there was a moment or two that made me feel a little queasy.

Do not forget to secure your return time early in the day. Once the allotted slots are gone for the day, the park stops distributing return times and you will not be able to ride.

The ride is in 3D, so, if you cannot see or handle 3D, especially in a theme park attraction, please plan accordingly.

Wrapping it Up

This ride opened to much fanfare as Jimmy Fallon is never one to shy away from throwing a fun party for his fans. That being said, while this is a solid addition to Universal’s ride lineup, it will not be displacing Harry Potter amongst the top attractions in the parks. It is a good, fun ride, and serves its role and purpose well.

The best part of this attraction is that Jimmy Fallon, never one to take himself or his comedy too seriously, adds a fresh infusion of whimsy and charm to all facets of the attraction.  As a result, the ride offers a unique, fun experience for park goers.

Go out, enjoy yourselves, and watch out for pandas.


Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!