Note to Universal Creative: Showcase Your NBC History

Edited: May 29, 2023, 1:22 PM

I'm not really a fan of 'Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon'. The premise is silly and the ride system is old hat. But what I do enjoy is the walk through the pre-show (kind of) queue area. That feeling that you are walking through the lobby/halls of 30 Rockefeller Plaza is exciting. No other network operates out of such a signature building.

That made me wonder why Universal Creative doesn't showcase the history of NBC at its Florida parks.

Consider the following: If you ask the proprietor of this website (Robert Niles / Theme Park Insider) to name his favorite attraction at EPCOT, I have zero doubt that somewhere near the top of the list would be the film 'Impressions de France' in the French showcase. It is a beautiful film shown in a comfortable theater. No physical effects. No 3D. No moving seats or simulator platforms. It's just an air conditioned space that is home to a great film.

Universal has the opportunity to do the same thing. They have decades of material, from "Must See TV," to historic news reporting, to Johnny Carson to Saturday Night Live and so many other properties.

If it follows the model of 'Impressions de France', the film would be 18 minutes long.

It strikes me that it would be relatively easy to gut the Fallon attraction, build a theater and showcase the NBC portfolio -- the shows and stars who created so many extraordinary memories.

The air conditioned space would be a perfect spot for guests to relax, recharge and recollect the memories of this great American television network. Additionally, depending on the size of the theater, it provides some crowd control benefits by getting guests off the street.

Just sayin'


Replies (19)

Edited: May 30, 2023, 12:21 PM

While Impressions de France is rated very highly here, and is definitely a marvelous movie, it's not terribly popular, which is why Disney started alternating it with a Beauty and the Beast sing-a-long. Yes, it's nice to sit down in an air-conditioned theater, but I actually think the Jimmy Fallon ride does what you suggest by adding the extra element of a motion simulator into the equation (though that does prevent an entire family from experiencing).

I similarly have been impressed with the waiting area of the Jimmy Fallon attraction, especially having been to Rockefeller Center and seen how accurately they've recreated this space. I do feel that UC could replace Fallon with SNL and they would cast a much wider net, but Fallon allows them to integrate the motion simulator much easier than SNL would.

If you really want UC to pay homage to their portfolio, they've done that with the Cinematic Spectacular, which is a very impressive nighttime show. Whether that makes a return at some point is unknown, but I do think it was difficult to execute due to the shape of the park and inability to have a central location that could accommodate massive crowds.

I know that I would take time out of my day to watch a movie saluting some of NBA/Universal's properties, but I'm not sure that would be the case for a most guests to the park. Universal has really emphasized the thrill factor for their parks, and tend to draw more active families, so sitting down and watching a movie might not be something that would attract a significant percentage of their fan base.

May 30, 2023, 11:50 AM

A Central Perk coffee shop or a Monk's Cafe seem like a no-brainer in the NY corner of Universal Studios.

May 30, 2023, 12:03 PM

"That made me wonder why Universal Creative doesn't showcase the history of NBC at its Florida parks."
Probably because no one cares about the history of NBC. Your idea is nice for a youtube video but I don't think UO wants to spend money on something that is going to run mostly empty all day.

May 30, 2023, 12:44 PM

RM: "While Impressions de France is rated very highly here, and is definitely a marvelous movie, it's not terribly popular, which is why Disney started alternating it with a Beauty and the Beast sing-a-long."

Me: Yeah. 38 years after it opened. And the Fallon ride is quite lame.

May 30, 2023, 12:46 PM

the_man2: "Probably because no one cares about the history of NBC."

Me: Disney has had success with the 'Walt Disney Story' and 'One Man's Dream'. Both are similar concepts. And the Fallon ride is quite lame.

Edited: May 30, 2023, 12:59 PM

Impressions de France is so popular that it operates for 2 and half hours a day out of a 12 hour operating day, and Epcot has a way bigger attendance of "empty nesters" than Universal Orlando that would be interesting in seeing that kind of thing. The Walt Disney history film is so popular that when they have a new movie coming out they put in a movie preview instead of doing the Walt Disney film.

While I do like both films (though Impressions is embarrassingly outdated), the sad reality is at this point both theaters are more popular when they are not playing their core shows. I have seen Impressions dozens of times and would never see a Beauty and the Beast singalong...but the fact that they can satisfy all the people like me there by operating it for 2 1/2 hours in that dinky theater at a massive, crowded park like Epcot, should tell you something about its popularity.

Edited: May 30, 2023, 1:18 PM

@the_man2: Wow. I guess you believe Comcast is incapable of making an entertaining film.

Meanwhile, here are some of online reviews for Fallon

"Twister did not die for this ???????? I quite like twister"

"It’s really boring! One ride attraction"

"Waste of time, work, space, and materials."

"The line moves pretty fast because nobody else wanted to ride it. So you get disappointed pretty quickly and can can move about your day."

"Who thought this would be a good idea. Waste of space."

"The queue is the best part, especially if the rag time band is there"

"I think it made me like Jimmy Fallon less."

"It wasn’t good, very boring and corny"

"(If) do not have anything else to do, go on it."

To each his own, I suppose.

Lots of positive comments about the pre-show and the NBC memorabilia. Say, maybe people ARE interested in the history of NBC.

May 30, 2023, 1:15 PM

And over on Reddit: "I rode it during soft opening last year in March and initially thought it was one of the worst new attractions in years. The seats are horribly uncomfortable, checking restraints took 5+ minutes, the jokes in the ride were forced and not funny, and the whole ride just felt like an excuse to get NBC shows more in the parks. They asked for me to do a survey and I was brutally honest about how bad it was."

May 30, 2023, 1:21 PM

Boy if you surf for reviews there is a pretty strong consensus that the pre-show featuring artifacts from NBC's history are regarded as pretty cool.

Maybe Comcast should make a movie about the history of NBC and put it in the parks.


May 30, 2023, 3:00 PM

...or maybe people are trying to find something nice to say about an otherwise mediocre attraction that has been regarded as a downgrade from Twister. The queuing on the attraction is memorable with ample time to explore the Rockefeller Center display before boarding the ride (FWIW, I've seen similar praise given to F&FS with its similar queueing technique on an otherwise poorly reviewed ride).

Maybe Comcast should make a queue about the history of NBC and put it on another poorly performing attraction so people will write nice things about it.

May 30, 2023, 7:51 PM

The economics of this are probably terrible, but how about switching the theme of the 30 Rock building from The Tonight Show to Saturday Night Live (as Russell suggested), then just ripping out the flying theater and using that space as a traditional theater for a live SNL-style improv/sketch show?

We'd get the humor everyone loves from the Horror Make-up show with a different theme.

Edited: May 30, 2023, 9:21 PM

In the era of streaming services and the internet, this type of attraction just holds zero appeal for the vast majority of theme park visitors. Modern audiences want active, dynamic experiences, so the idea of going to a theme park and spending a half hour watching a movie seems like a waste of time. Plus, the history of NBC Universal isn't really something anyone's going to visit Universal Studios for when their marketing is exclusively based on guests experiencing the worlds of popular movies brought to life. A museum is fine as a walk-through diversion, as it requires little in operating costs. A film would be fine as a filler if it had already been produced and there was an empty theater that could be used. However, building something like this is a waste of money as the park would be investing into an attraction that has very little marketability and would likely be visited by less than 1% of the park's guests.

May 31, 2023, 5:22 AM

@R. Niles: You're on point. Back in 2017 The Orlando Weekly reported: "At one point, before the Tonight Show theme was chosen for the recently opened (LAME) ride at Universal Studios, there were rumors of a Saturday Night Live attraction. In the long theme park tradition of "no idea dies," it now seems that instead of a museum and ride we might be getting an SNL-themed lounge."

@AJ: I don't understand how someone can use the term "vast majority" without actual data.

AJ: "However, building something like this is a waste of money as the park would be investing into an attraction that has very little marketability ..."

Me: Yeah, because everyone flocks to USF to watch Fallon and Quest Love crash into a pizza joint.

BTW, posted reviews of the Fallon thing (lame) consistently love the queue and the Tonight Show displays. So there absolutely is an audience for historic content.

Because historic content is “more than magic, it's real”.


May 31, 2023, 9:30 AM

I don't think Fallon is great but its not a horrible ride either.

@TH Creative anyone can grab bad reviews for anything online so your "list" of Fallon reviews is absolutely meaningless.

See below google reviews for Space Mountain in Orlando;

"The most bumpy, painful roller coaster I've ever been on. If you're over 6 feet you feel like you're going to be decapitated the whole time. Would rate 0 stars if I could"

"All I can say it’s a roller coaster in complete dark. Be ready to be tense the entire time because you don’t want your neck whipped out of place"

"What a disappointment spend hundreds of dollars here. The whole Disney park it's nothing but junk. Broken down rides, staff arrogant and rude I will never return here again.....what a waste of money."

"No thrill here was expecting a drop and never got it"

"Staff on this ride are incompetent. They allow fast pass to take up both sides of the ride. Not only do they dedicate one side for the express pass a flood them over under the standard pass. Estimated time when we get on this ride was 140 minutes we've been in this line for over 380 minutes. Management seriously needs to look into the transition of this line."

May 31, 2023, 10:25 AM

@Francis: Space Mountain is lame.

May 31, 2023, 12:15 PM

oh well that I agree its lame but you get my point grabbing random 1 star reviews is possible for anything.... :)

May 31, 2023, 5:18 PM

TH: "Posted reviews of the Fallon thing (lame) consistently love the queue and the Tonight Show displays. So there absolutely is an audience for historic content."

Me: Sounds like that backs up my statement of a walk-through museum being a good idea, but it fails to suggest there is an audience for something grander in scale than that without additional research.

TH: "I don't understand how someone can use the term "vast majority" without actual data."

Me: I won't say you're necessarily wrong or I'm necessarily right, but the trend away from movie-based shows toward live performances or more dynamic attractions (such as simulators) suggests that a simple film doesn't have the drawing power it once did.

TH: "Space Mountain is lame."

Me: You better be referring solely to Florida's iteration of the attraction, because those are fighting words if applied to it's vastly superior cousin in California.

June 1, 2023, 4:53 AM

@AJ: Do you have some kind of endorsement deal with 'Vast, Inc.'? You seem addicted to using some iteration of "vast" in every post. "Vast", "Vastly", "Vastology", "vastrometry", "vastectomy".

And you are trying to claim there is a "trend" away from attractions that feature images projected onto screens? You're really trying to sell that?

Also I was just goofing on Space Mountain -- although I like the WDW edition more than the one at DLR. I like the low sides on the train. No theme park experience is quite as exhilarating as the front seat of WDW's Space Mountain -- especially when you arrive at the top of the first lift.

By the way, did you notice the Space Mountain review quotes all talk about operators, the state of the track and (one) the state of the entire park. Only a single review dissed the experience (no "drop") -- which was stupid because of the big final drop in the end.

June 1, 2023, 2:02 PM

I'm tapping out there's just no meeting people halfway with you TH! I mean I was pretty fair in my comment and you clearly missed the point.

Nobody on this page would agree that Fast & Furious is a good ride yet I could easily grab a bunch of 5 star reviews for it and make a long list and claim Fast & Furious is a beloved and amazing attraction! So again grabbing 1 star reviews for any ride and claiming people don't like is just none sense.

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