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Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! is the ride Universal Studios Hollywood was missing.
It's no secret that Universal Studios Hollywood has a serious real estate challenge. Between being built into a hillside in L.A.'s Cahuenga Pass to sharing space with one of the largest working movie studios in the city, the theme park often has to take out old attractions just so they can squeeze in new ones. Fortunately, in the case of the park's latest ride – The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! – the Universal creative team was able to transform an area previously used only for event space to bring the all-new attraction to life without sacrificing any fan favorites.
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Location, Location, Location
The charming new attraction is a welcome addition to the park's already family-friendly upper lot, and while based on the popular "The Secret Life of Pets" films, previous knowledge of the movies and its furry characters is not required – something I was grateful for since having two 20-something sons put the relatively new franchise off my radar. Plus, the ride's original storyline transforms park guests into lost puppies in search of forever homes, which is another reason riders who've never seen the movies will still enjoy the adventure.
What to Expect: The Ride
Guests are immediately immersed in the attraction's story as they make their way through the queue experience inside Katie's New York City apartment building from the movies. Here, they encounter a parade of unsupervised pets like Norman the guinea pig, who acts as an unofficial tour guide; Buddy the dachshund, who's getting a kitchen counter massage courtesy of a stand mixer; and Snowball the somewhat controlling rabbit, who comes up with a plan to get the lost puppies into an adoption fair across town.
Featured in the queue and throughout the ride are favorite "Secret Life of Pets" characters voiced by the original actors from the films, including Max (Patton Oswalt), Snowball (Kevin Hart), Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Gidget (Jenny Slate), Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), Chloe (Lake Bell), and Pops (Dana Carvey).
The traditional dark ride employs an Omnimover ride system that propels two-person cardboard box-shaped ride vehicles boarded in the apartment building's mailroom (of course) through the streets of New York to make it to the "Pets Store" in time to be adopted. As the boxes move through the colorful cityscapes, we notice pets enjoying a day on the town – including one exceptionally limber pup who "upward dogs" right along with a neighborhood yoga class.
Get all the secrets you need to know before you ride The Secret Life of Pets: Life Unleashed! at Universal Studios Hollywood!
One particularly unique feature of The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! is advanced optical gesture technology that allows riders to see themselves as animated puppies in the window of an electronics store, and while Universal Studios Hollywood is known for attractions that rely heavily on screens, this ride uses projection mapping, shadow projections, and digital media sparingly, so the technology never detracts from the physical sets and characters, including the unsavory feline gang in cat alley who attempts to hinder the puppies' progress.
As with so many animated adventures, the journey hits a snag when Snowball (as the self-appointed mastermind) comes up with the arguably short-sighted idea to use fireworks to speed up the trip. Thankfully, despite Snowball's plan "backfiring," the stray puppies make it to the "Pets Store" in time for a visit to the pet spa before meeting their new families and celebrating at a rousing pet party that rivals the minion dance party at Gru's house across the street.
As always, riders exit through the gift shop, which in this case, is the "Pets Shop" from the ride that carries super cute "Pets"-related merch, including plush pets up for adoption.
What? No Lines?
But, wait. There's more! "The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!" uses a Virtual Line system – the same one Universal Orlando guests use to ride Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure without standing in painfully long queues. That's right, there's no standby line. But have no fear, it's very easy to access the Virtual Line and get a return time via the official (and free) Universal Studios Hollywood App or with help from a team member at the kiosk next to the ride entrance – one might even say it's a walk in the (dog) park.
Prepurchase tickets to get the best deal and avoid lines when you arrive. You can buy them here.
Where to Stay
Use this interactive map to find private homes and hotels around Universal Studios Hollywood.
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