Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
|Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon|
The ride is housed in a recreation of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, or the Comcast Building, at Stage 50, with The Tonight Shop serving as the ride exit.
|Universal Studios Florida|
|Soft opening date||March 2, 2017|
|Opening date||April 6, 2017|
|Replaced||Twister...Ride it Out|
|Attraction type||Motion simulator|
|Theme||The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon|
|Vehicle type||Flying theater|
|Participants per group||76|
|Height restriction||40 in (102 cm)|
|Ride host||Jimmy Fallon|
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Saturday Night Live alum, Jimmy Fallon, on NBC. The show premiered on February 17, 2014, and it is the seventh incarnation of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise, with Fallon serving as the sixth host. The show also stars sidekick and announcer Steve Higgins and house band The Roots. The Tonight Show originates from Studio 6B, where Johnny Carson's Tonight Show also was taped, in Rockefeller Center, New York City.
On the October 27, 2015 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon officially announced the attraction, which opened in 2017 at Universal Studios Florida. The attraction, which is based on the popular celebrity race segment from Fallon's show, replaced Twister...Ride it Out, which closed on November 2, 2015.
On the January 12, 2017 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the ride was officially given an April 6, 2017 opening date. As an anticipation of the ride's opening, Fallon announced the show would be taped again at Universal Studios Florida, April 3–6, 2017.
Jimmy Fallon originally pitched the idea to Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, while at the helm of his Late Night tenure. Initially, Woodbury declined to the idea, until Fallon's move to the Tonight Show proved to be an immediate success. After Woodbury reached out to develop the idea, Jimmy Fallon worked with two of his main writers on the ride's concept for three and a half years.
Filming commenced on November 4, 2015 at Studio 8H, where Saturday Night Live originates, as confirmed from photos shared by Fallon on his Instagram account. Fallon is seen wearing a motion capture suit and helmet, while sitting on a makeshift go-kart, surrounded by motion capture cameras. Fallon posted another photo on his Twitter account on a closed set in Vancouver filming new scenes for the attraction on April 18, 2016, this time wearing a suit as he usually wears on The Tonight Show, sitting in a hydraulic go-kart simulator in front of a green screen.
Construction began in March 2016, when the first supports for the ride's facade were brought to Stage 50, where the ride is housed in. The building's facade is based on 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, where Studio 6B is located.
The ride is in 3D. It was revealed by Fallon on social media that Industrial Light & Magic was in charge of filming motion capture footage for the attraction. In a video released by Universal Orlando, early November 2016, and a post by the theme park's official blog various cast and Fallon characters were revealed to have an appearance in the attraction, including Sara and her stepdad, Gary, seen carrying a basket with the Tonight Show Golden Retriever puppies inside, Fallon's Tight Pants character, Steve Higgins, Tonight Show house band The Roots, The Ragtime Gals and Tonight Show mascot Hashtag the Panda. The ride is also the first Universal Studios Florida attraction to feature virtual queuing.
The attraction is housed inside a replica of 30 Rockefeller, where The Tonight Show is taped. The corridors of the actual NBC Studios are also replicated in the queue. Divided in two parts, the queue is composed of one in a lower level and the second in the upper. As guests enter the lobby in the lower level, they receive a ticket that matches one of the six colors in the NBC peacock logo. This level features displays of items from the entire history of The Tonight Show, including exhibits dedicated to each of its past hosts. Items on display include suits and desk props used by the hosts, admittance tickets from each host's tenure, and an NBC video camera used for the show's taping in the golden age, all adjacent to a display of Jimmy Fallon as the current host. Guests may continue to the upper level once the lobby's lighting changes to the color of the NBC ticket they were given.
In the upper level of the queue, guests are entertained with a live performance from The Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet onstage, with screens showing Jimmy's monologues, show sketches, History of Rap and Lip Sync Battle. The queue also has interactive desks throughout the waiting area where guests can send personalized Tonight Show Thank You Notes, play retro-style Fallon video games and have a meet-and-greet with Hashtag the Panda.
Guests are called in to enter Studio 6B once the lighting in the upper level waiting area changes to the color of the NBC ticket they were given at the receptionist desk. After guests are ushered into the doors that lead to Studio 6B, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon begins in the screens. The show begins with its intro and music played by The Roots, with Steve Higgins announcing the guests for this episode: you (the audience) "and featuring the Legendary Roots Crew". The shot cuts to Questlove Yelling "Universal Studios!" followed by Higgins introducing Jimmy Fallon. As he emerges from the curtains, studio applause lights flash, indicating the guests to do so as the show intro proceeds.
After the intro ends, Fallon begins the show with a quick monologue about the sights the audience will get to see in the race through New York City and requests the help of Roots vocalist Tariq Trotter to rap about the safety precautions of the ride, instead of reciting them because "that's boring". After the applause lights flash again for The Roots, Sara and her stepdad, Gary, make an appearance as the only people in the studio audience, who later leave the studio for the ride's gift shop. After they leave, Fallon ushers guests to step inside Studio 6B to begin the race, as he returns backstage through the curtains he emerged from to board his vehicle, "The Tonight Rider" (a nod to Knight Rider, which aired on NBC).
The race through New York begins with Jimmy Fallon emerging once again from backstage through the stage curtains, this time driving "The Tonight Rider", challenging the audience to the race. The Roots can be seen to provide the music as Steve Higgins counts down the start of the race. The race begins through Studio 6B's backstage corridors, racing through NBC personnel, passing by Tight Pants and Hashtag the Panda. After almost crashing into Hashtag, Jimmy's vehicle skids through the corridor and crashes through the wall along with the audience, landing at West 50th Street between the NBC Studios marquee and Radio City Music Hall. From there, the race immediately continues through Times Square, after Jimmy crashes into a taxi driven by Travis Bickle (Fallon).
The race continues under the Hard Rock Cafe marquee and heads towards the New York City Subway's Times Square–42nd Street station, where the audience encounters The Ragtime Gals singing a melody before turning to the subway tracks and almost crashing with an oncoming train (operated by Fallon). The audience gets to escape by reversing and turning into a tunnel under construction and later exiting to the first checkpoint, where Sara is crossing the street with her stepdad, Gary, who's carrying a basket full of the Tonight Show Golden Retriever puppies. Jimmy Fallon's wife, Nancy Juvonen makes a cameo appearance with their daughters, Winnie and Frances Fallon.
The race now takes the skies as Jimmy's vehicle converts into a hovercraft, soaring through the city, throwing pizza to the audience and t-shirts out of a t-shirt cannon. The race goes past the Flatiron Building before diving into the East River for the second leg of the race, where a shark appears and scares Fallon and the audience (a reference to Jaws). After resurfacing, the race reaches the Statue of Liberty for the third checkpoint.
As fireworks explode around Lady Liberty, the race heads towards the Empire State Building where a giant Hashtag the Panda, trying to flick off planes, grabs the audience and shoots them straight to the moon. There, Jimmy remarks The Roots as "the first band on the moon", who are all dressed up in spacesuits. He then, asks James Poyser to play his thank you note-writing music, to write a thank you note addressed to the moon. The race reaches the Space Train, a roller coaster launcher on the moon, which is under construction, shooting both Jimmy and the audience back towards Earth. Coming in too hot, Jimmy decides to open up a hyperdrive in the form of a tube that leads directly to 30 Rock and back inside Studio 6B, where the audience wins the race after Jimmy Fallon crashes his "Tonight Rider" just before crossing the finish line.
The Tonight Show's real-life stage manager, Niclana Tolmasoff, makes a cameo appearance at the end of the ride as well as the show's real-life writers, Mike DiCenzo and Gavin Purcell, who appear as stage crew members.
The Tonight Shop
After the ride concludes, guests exit downstairs to The Tonight Shop, with merchandise from both the ride and Fallon's Tonight Show tenure.
Universal debuted a new ride vehicle for the attraction, which seats up to 76 people, as "a unique flying theater". The 3D ridership experience features various effects such as smells of New York-style pizza and water spritzes through the East River as well as a full immersive motion experience.
- Jimmy Fallon as himself, host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.
- Steve Higgins as himself, announcer for The Tonight Show and Race Through New York.
- The Roots as themselves, house band for The Tonight Show and composers of the score for Race Through New York.
- Tariq Trotter, vocals
- Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, drums, musical director,
- Kamal Gray, keyboards
- Frank "Knuckles" Walker, percussion
- Captain Kirk Douglas, guitar
- Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson, tuba and sousaphone
- James Poyser, keyboards
- Mark Kelley, bass guitar
- Ian Hendrickson-Smith, saxophones
- David Guy, trumpet
- A. D. Miles as Gary, Sara's stepdad.
- Hashtag the Panda, The Tonight Show's mascot.
- The Ragtime Gals, a barbershop quartet with a knack for singing popular hit songs in a capella.
- The Tonight Show Golden Retriever puppies
- Nancy Juvonen as herself (cameo)
- Winnie and Frances Fallon as themselves (cameo)
- Niclana Tolmasoff as the Tonight Show's stage manager. Tolmasoff is also the real-life stage manager for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
- Mike DiCenzo and Gavin Purcell as stage crew members. Both DiCenzo and Purcell are also real-life writers for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The Tonight Show taping and the ride's opening day
In anticipation to the opening of the ride, The Tonight Show was taped from Universal Studios Florida for the second time in Fallon's tenure, April 3–6, 2017. Out of his guests for the 4-day show broadcast, Fallon invited country singer Blake Shelton to experience Race Through New York, to which Shelton felt it was a punishment, admitting to having a fear of rollercoasters; both Shelton and Fallon have pushed each other into trying things they both dislike or have never tried such as sushi and milking a cow.
Jimmy Fallon also invited Dwayne Johnson to go out on the streets of Universal Studios Florida, each dressed in a college mascot costume of themselves, in a competition for the most high fives, hugs and selfies taken in an amount of time, resulting in Fallon winning. They continued their stunt inside the attraction's stage to photobomb park goers, again, in their college mascot costumes, bringing one of them to tears after meeting his hero, The Rock.
On April 6, 2017, opening day, Jimmy Fallon was paraded to the entrance of the attraction on a New York-themed float joined by Steve Higgins, The Roots, Sara's stepdad, Gary, and Hashtag the Panda, from the backlot. After giving a speech, accompanied by his wife and daughters, Fallon officially opened the attraction during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
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