The attraction's plot is centered around the "celebrity race" segment of the show, but taken up to eleven, as in this case, Jimmy takes the riders on a thrilling race through New York City while along the way coming across various characters from the show, including most notably a King Kong-sized Hashtag the Panda that only makes the race more wackier when he tosses Jimmy and the guests into outer space.
A unique feature of the ride is that it's the first Universal attraction to make use of "virtual queueing", where instead of waiting in a line for the ride, guests are instead given a color-coded ticket and wait around until their color is called; after which they are led directly to the ride's pre-show. The attraction has two waiting room areas, the first being a large exhibit chronicling the history of The Tonight Show and all of its hosts, and the second being an interactive area that features games, meet-and-greets, and small performances.
The ride was officially announced by Jimmy himself on October 27, 2015 during an episode of The Tonight Show. It replaced Twister...Ride it Out, which closed a mere few days later on November 2. After over a year of development, the ride was opened on April 6, 2017. In celebration, The Tonight Show was taped inside one of the park's soundstages from April 3-6.
Tropes shown in Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon include:
- Artistic License – Geography: The ride places Time Square right outside of Radio City Music Hall, which is actually northeast of the area.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Without any explanation as to why or how, Hashtag the Panda becomes skyscraper-sized at one point in the ride.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: When both the guests and Jimmy are flung towards the moon, neither party has any trouble breathing.
- Big Applesauce: Being a ride based off of The Tonight Show, it seems only natural for the big race to take place on the streets of New York.
- Car Meets House: A slight reversal of this trope occurs, as rather than driving his car into a building, Jimmy drives his car out of a building; leaving a giant gaping hole in the walls.Jimmy: If anyone asks, that hole was already there.
- The Cameo: Several of the characters from The Tonight Show make brief appearances in the ride, such as Steve Higgins, the Ragtime Gals, Sara, Gary Frick Jr., and Hashtag the Panda.
- Continuity Nod: The ride contains several references to some of the past sketches that Jimmy has done.
- Cool Car: Jimmy's "Tonight Rider" vehicle (shown in page image) in which he races.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: While Steve Higgins explains the Space Train on the moon.Steve: Once completed, it will be the first ever roller coaster from the moon to the earth!
Jimmy: Wait, "once completed?!"
- Flying Car: Both the Tonight Rider and the guests’ vehicle function as these.
- Gratuitous Rap: In the pre-show, Jimmy has Tariq Trotter (vocalist of The Roots) rap the ride's safety instructions, feeling that just reciting them normally would be too boring.If you're pregnant, or your blood pressure's abnormal,I'm sorry, this simply isn't a suitable ride for youOther people we're unable to allow admissionAre those with various back, neck, or heart conditionsYou'd better start to listen, it's risky businessIf you're prone to dizziness, or any type of motion sicknessI hope I'm speaking loud and clear enough, you gettin' this?You definitely should sit this one out, I have to say to youIf you had recent surgery, or a condition that's aggravatableMind this race an adventure, it's unsafe if you enterRefraining is the simplest way to avoid being injuredIf you're lucky enough to be allowed to take this ride,Your arms, legs, heads and hands must remain insideNot to mention your feet,And keep your loose articles safely stored beneath the seatInformation complete.
- "King Kong" Climb: Parodied in the scene where Hashtag the Panda is shown scaling the Empire State Building.Jimmy: Hashtag, why are you on top of the Empire State Building? And why are you 300-feet tall?
- Mythology Gag:
- In one of the window displays of a nearby façade, the shirt that Bill Paxton wore in the pre-show for Twister...Ride it Out can be seen hanging on a rack. There's also a stapler labeled "B. Paxton" and a poster marketing "Twister Cola".
- In another window display, there's newspapers referencing "Bull's Gym" and "Regal Cafe", two façade themes that can be found in the park's New York area. The newspapers also reference the park's World Expo area and features an ad for paranormal investigators.
- No Antagonist: Unlike other Universal simulator rides (excluding Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem), Race Through New York contains no villains interfering with the race (unless you count the subway train, the shark in the East River, the giant Hashtag the Panda on top of the empire state building, or the Space Train on the moon, but even then, they serve as unintended obstacles).
- "No Talking or Phones" Warning: The attraction features a unique take on the usual safety spiel by having it be rapped instead of spoken normally.
- Oh, Crap!: When they get to the moon, Jimmy (and possibly, the audience) have this reaction upon realizing that the Space Train isn't even finished.
- Paddleball Shot: Done throughout the ride, to the point that Jimmy lampshades it.Jimmy: What else is good in 3-D? Oh yeah, T-shirt cannons!
- Product Placement: The ride is filled with it, often featuring plugs for NBC and Comcast overall.
- Railroad Tracks of Doom: Upon landing in the subway tunnels, the guests soon after end up colliding with an oncoming subway train.
- Shout-Out: When driving through traffic, Jimmy briefly gets into a scuffle with Travis Bickle, during which the former quotes the latter's famous You Talkin' to Me? line.
- Space Is Air: Zigzagged. When on the moon, Jimmy moves around as if there's no gravity, but upon roller coasteering back to Earth, everything moves exactly as it would if it were under Earth's atmosphere.
- Studio Audience: The guests serve as Jimmy's studio audience that he's racing against.
- Threatening Shark: While underwater, the guests narrowly avoid the jaws of a great white shark.
- Tube Travel: While falling back down to Earth, Jimmy activates the "hyper-tube", which he and the guests travel through, leading them directly back to 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
- Wacky Racing: The entirety of the ride is this, being a madcap race through New York that only gets more absurd as it goes on.