Jason Surrell stands in front of a “digital firing squad” ready to show the world what he’s been working on for the past four years. Jimmy Fallon looms in the background, along with the rest of the other Tonight Show hosts through the years in a replica of NBC’s 30 Rock.
“You won’t believe how many people come in and line up still” Surrell quips as he talks about the huge new Jimmy Fallon Ride at Universal Orlando. “People are so used to standing in line at a theme park, that even when there is no line, they still stand in one. We’re going to change that. Jimmy Fallon is the first step.”
Jason is confident that what Universal has with Race Through New York is a game changer, and it is. Universal has taken the concept of standing in a traditional line, and thrown it out the window. They’ve taken away the long periods of standing in a winding line and converted into a lounge experience, complete with a museum display.
Watch-Jason Surrell talks about Jimmy Fallon changing how Universal does theme parks
Universal has done immersive before, from ET, to Men in Black and Marvel Superhero Island. It was all used and brought together in a bigger way when Universal created The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The parks took immersive to a whole new level, as you walk into the world.
With Jimmy Fallon, they’ve taken that immersion one step further.
It begins when they walk into the replica of 30 Rock in Universal’s New York area. From there, guests are put right smack dab into a complete Tonight Show Experience.
“We don’t want you to come in and run right to the ride, we want you to actually hang out.”
As Surrell explains, it’s not just a ride. They’ve taken what you know about theme parks and waiting in line, and turned it on it’s ear. You walk through a museum full of Tonight Show artifacts, you lounge around upstairs in a green room. There’s phone chargers nestled in couches. Huge touchscreens allow guests to play games, and watch clips of the Tonight Show. There’s a roaming character, and even live performances all while you wait. It’s very much like being on the set of The Tonight Show.
“This is the first step in what we have planned for the future.”
Universal is already about to roll out more of these types of experiences when Volcano Bay opens in May. That park will not have traditional lines, but will allow guests to roam freely while the time they have to wait clicks by. From the sounds of it though, there’s more to come as Universal will more than likely increase the in-line experiences. Waiting in long lines is something that no one likes to do, so they are either going to make the lines more fun, like the case of Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York, or simply do away with lines altogether.
Universal Orlando launched new features on their mobile app, which allows guests to book ride times while they are in park. Instead of waiting in line, they simply book using their smartphone and go about their day. If the system works out, that means that Universal will have to create more in park experiences to keep people occupied.
Back to Jimmy Fallon. As for the ride portion itself? It’s in technical rehearsal, so there are still some bugs to be worked out, but it very much completes your Tonight Show experience. It’s something that Jimmy Fallon actually came to Universal with.
“What Jimmy says is true, he came to us wanting to create a ride” Surrell says “He’s very much into creating a family friendly experience, and into the park.”
But how do you make a ride based on a late night talk show? It’s kind of a weird premise, right? For Surrell and the Universal Creative team, they had it right in front of their faces.
“We kept noticing a pattern, they had all these great celebrity guests. They would sometimes race them through the Tonight Show set, especially with Chris and Liam Hemsworth. That gave us the exact story that we needed, instead of racing a celebrity, Jimmy would race you through the streets of New York.”
The ride itself is the piece that ties the entire Tonight Show experience together. Yes, it’s a simulator. No…it’s not a roller coaster. Universal has been doing simulators a lot lately, but in this experience, racing through New York City with a wacky TV Show host, that’s the best thing that you can do. It’s imaginative, and most of all it’s fun.
Slideshow-Want to see more pictures? Check out our full Race Through New York Gallery below!
We will have even more Jimmy Fallon fun, as we count down until the April 6th Grand Opening!
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