Check out the video below to watch as Twister: Ride it Out is transformed into Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon through photos taken throughout construction, starting all the way back in 2015. The facade for this attraction now looks like 30 Rock in New York City, but it was originally just an unthemed sound stage with a billboard for Twister. See below the video as well for a complete timeline of all construction updates and news stories about the new Fallon ride that we’ve posted. Thanks for joining us through it all!
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will officially open April 6, 2017, but if you're lucky you may get a chance to experience this new 3D simulator attraction during "soft openings," which are going on now! Soft opening, or "Technical Rehearsal" as Universal calls it, is like a practice run for the attraction. Some effects or elements may not be working, some things may change as they work the kinks out, and most importantly, there's no guarantee that the attraction will be open at all during this time and may close down at any given moment. Lately the ride has been operating in the afternoon each day, and over time that should move to be all day for most days. Check with the ride attendant out from in the morning to see if they know anything, and check back throughout the day for your chance to ride during a soft open.
This brand new attraction features a unique queue-less design, giving guests the chance to explore the Tonight Show museum, relax in the 30 Rock Lounge, and see some live entertainment while they wait. I was very impressed with the entire experience all around. If this were simply just the four minute ride I don't think I would've liked it as much as I did. This park needs more long experiences now that Twister, Beetlejuice, and Disaster have closed, and you can easily spend 30 minutes in this attraction just soaking in the queue areas and fun entertainment.
The ride will utilize a Virtual Line reservation system after it officially opens next month. This will allow you to reserve a time to come back, either through the Universal mobile app or one of the new kiosks near the ride entrance. You will still need to wait a short period once you enter, but that time is spent enjoying the museum and live entertainment, and should be considered part of the attraction overall. They've even included comfy chairs with mobile device charging stations, which is not too shabby a way to wait for a ride.
See the video for the latest construction update, full queue experience and live entertainment, and check out the photo report below for more information as well as more of my thoughts on the attraction! And stay tuned for more theme park news and updates coming soon.
The work walls have come down in front of the entrance to Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios Florida. We're one step closer to seeing this soft open! Construction is continuing inside the entrance and queue, but there's been plenty of ride testing going on and a private event was held at the ride earlier in the week. We'll keep you posted on when the general public may have their first chance to experience this new attraction, so stay tuned!
Plus, we're taking a look at the nighttime lighting for the new ride as well as some minor changes in the store. The last few nights have seen the marquee entrance sign all lit up as well as windows and accent lights on in the building. Check out the video and photo update below and stay tuned for more #FallonRide updates coming soon!
Lots more trees and plants have been added since my last visit to check out Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It's beginning to get more difficult to see into the area with all of the new plants and trees being planted, but that's a good thing for full immersion in the new land once it's open. Just one more sign that we're getting closer to the opening! I got video and photos of the bridge leading into Pandora for the first time this update. I was excited to see a flock of Imagineers surveying the area while I was there too.
Kali River Rapids is closed for its annual refurbishment and is scheduled to re-open sometime in the Spring. The water has been drained from the ride as part of this rehab. I saw workers touching up painted designs on the load platform using stencils while I was there. The new monkey enclosure at Maharajah Jungle Trek is now open featuring lion-tailed macaques. And I took some video of the Rivers of Light stadium seating, effects, projectors and boats since I hadn't gotten a good look at it yet myself. Watch the video and check out the photo update below for more details!
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon may be scheduled to open April 6, but the gift shop, named The Tonight Shop, is already open and selling lots of Jimmy Fallon, NBC, and Universal Studios items. The new shop opened to guests over this previous weekend and will remain open while the ride construction continues.
At The Tonight Shop you can get your very own Hashtag the panda plush, Tonight Show shirts, NBC Studios mugs and so much more. Construction continues as workers get the finishing touches complete for this new ride, including new lettering being added to the entrance marquee, as well as lighting in the sign and more. Check out the video and full photo report below to see construction and everything in the new shop and stay tuned for more updates!
The holidays have arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom and DINOSAUR is back open again! After its recent refurbishment, DINOSAUR has re-opened with new lighting and special effects and more. While the ride is still incredibly dark, some areas have been enhanced with lit-up backdrops and the Compsognathus have been replaced with projected screens (which is actually an improvement in my opinion.) Some other improvements include the Carnotsaurus skins' paint scheme has more detail and the museum lobby displays in the queue have been improved. Over at Pandora: The World of Avatar construction, the pathway leading into the new area has received new lanterns and a big weird scary fake plant too. See the video and images below for more information and stay tuned for more theme park updates!
It has been a few years since I've visited Disney's Hollywood Studios so I thought I'd check out this currently front-heavy theme park and see how all the new (massive) projects are coming along. Toy Story Land, which should hopefully be opening within the next two years, is off to a good start. The third track for Midway Mania is open and keeping lines short(er). They've made great progress clearing the land and moving out all the debris so construction can begin soon. Star Wars Land (or the Star Wars Experience as it's being referred to in-house) is not as far along. With much more to tear down on the Streets of America and surrounding areas, there will still be some time before we actually see vertical construction I'm afraid. That being said, it is surreal to be able to see clear across the Streets of America without facades in your way. Seeing Muppets from Writer's Stop is interesting for sure.
And speaking of The Muppets, the newly re-themed restaurant PizzeRizzo is coming along nicely and should open for guests within a month or two. This former location of Pizza Planet is receiving a makeover to create a more cohesive "land" for the Muppets called Muppets Courtyard. The only last remnants of a true backlot, Muppets Courtyard has a New York street feel, and the new PizzeRizzo facade really shows that. (If they could only do something about the unthemed soundstage smack in the middle of the area that currently houses a Muppet gift shop.) I was happy to see a little nod to Pizza Planet in the newly designed pizzeria. It says "Best Pizza on the Planet", but PIZZA and PLANET are in big block letters. Beautiful way to remember the former location. New outdoor bathrooms are being added as well, aptly named Gonzo's Royal Flush. Check out the video plus many images below and stay tuned for more theme park updates!
Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be an entirely new themed land filled with bioluminescent plants, floating mountains, two new attractions as well as themed dining and shopping options. The area is looking spectacular, at least what parts of it that can be seen from guest areas. Much of the floating mountains and show building exteriors are complete and work has begun on guest pathways and more. While I was there I saw that my favorite ride, DINOSAUR, is currently closed for refurbishment. It should be opening back up sometime in late October (or hopefully sooner). Check out the video update as well as images and concept art below, and stay tuned for some more Walt Disney World construction updates coming soon!
Universal's newest attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure is now officially open! The announcement was made during the Today Show with Al Roker and Tamron Hall earlier today. It has also been tweeted by Universal Orlando with them saying "Skull Island: #ReignOfKong is now open at #IslandsOfAdventure!" The attraction has been in soft open, or 'technical rehearsals' as Universal calls it, for a full month, but as of now will be officially listed as open in the Universal Orlando app and map, and will (hopefully) be open all day along with the rest of the park (starting tomorrow). You can see the official opening ceremony from earlier this morning below along with some more images as well. Check out our extensive coverage of the construction of Kong since the beginning here, and stay tuned for more theme park news and updates coming soon!
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told analysts at an investor conference last week that Universal is working on an attraction based on the upcoming film, "The Secret Life of Pets". While there have been rumors of a family friendly dark ride featuring the characters from this upcoming film coming to both Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando, this is the first time we have had any confirmation on the matter at all. Burke did not say which theme park or parks would feature the attraction, but if rumors prove true we could see this new attraction appear at both coast's parks before the end of the decade.
Burke did go on to say "We are doing -- we have started a Pets attraction even before the film comes out, which if the film doesn't do as well as I think, it will be painful. But I think it will do very well." The Secret Life of Pets comes to theaters July 8. It was produced by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, the same folks that brought us Despicable Me and Minions. I believe that SLoP, as I am calling it, will do wonderfully at the theaters, and like Despicable Me, will feature characters we'll be seeing plastered on every product imaginable for years to come.
Check out my recent park updates featuring new merchandise for The Secret Life of Pets that has shown up in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. And stay tuned for the official announcement and more information about a SLoP ride (hopefully) coming soon!