Jimmy Fallon Talks Up Universal Studios Ride: ‘This Is My Mar-a-Lago’

A simulated home away from home

The Tonight Show is in Orlando this week for a series of shows that kicked off in grand style Monday night with Shaquille O’Neal. But the bigger framing reason for the visit is the launch of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, a new ride opening Thursday at Universal Studios.

Fallon and his staff got a first-hand look Sunday at the attraction and were amazed by the accuracy of the 30 Rock replica details. From the host’s interview with the Orlando Sun-Sentinel:

The ride building, former home of the Twister attraction, has been remodeled to look like 30 Rock, the iconic New York building where the show is produced. Instead of the hang-gliding theme, the ride features Fallon racing the audience through the Big Apple. Fallon appears as 10 characters in the attraction’s film, including a cab driver, a subway conductor, a guy in tight white pants and a teenage girl.

“This literally was his idea. He was really passionate about doing a ride and specifically showcasing New York in a fun way,” creative director Jason Surrell said.

Universal Creative collaborated with Tonight writers Gerard Bradford and Mike DiCenzo, Surrell said. The process included trips to the real 30 Rock.

Jay Leno, in town for a comedy performance Friday at the Hard Rock Live Orlando, will be the main guest Thursday on The Tonight Show. In a separate piece with the Sun-Sentinel, he lauded the fact that his exit from The Tonight Show in 2014 means he no longer has to interview “stupid celebrities.”

The Tampa Bay Times coverage of the Fallon ride launch includes the POV of a reporters’ preview Monday. The seem to have gotten all the details down, right to the smell of New York pizza:

The Fallon ride is a 3-D simulator, putting guests in the The Tonight Show audience and racing Fallon through the streets of Manhattan to win the coveted Tonight Show Cup. Fallon’s Tonight Rider races the audiences out of 30 Rock, zips through Times Square, leaps over the Statue of Liberty, plunges into the Hudson River and rockets to the top of the Empire State Building, where a 300-foot Hashtag the Panda is waiting to fling the audience to the moon. …

There’s even a pungent aroma of greasy, cheesy New York pizza when Fallon stops for a slice during the race. But, the host says, it’s not pizza with pineapple.