Universal Studios Hollywood reopens with new The Secret Life of Pets Ride
Jurassic World: The Ride unveils enhanced finale, and The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash debuts at the reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood. CS was on hand for the pass holder special park preview (disclosure: this writer has a season pass!) yesterday to get an early look at the theme park’s new updates and guidelines in advance of their public opening. As of the run date, Universal Studios Hollywood is only open to CA residents until restrictions are potentially lifted in mid-June, as per CA government officials.
After waiting more than a year, we were able to go back and check out The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, the newest ride to join an Illuminations Animated Pictures area. Pets Place took over the strip that once housed The Walking Dead attraction, and now instead of hordes of zombies, there are hordes of cute and cuddly pets. The new dark ride based on The Secret Life of Pets franchise innovates on what we’ve come to see for family attractions with little ones. Filled with impressive technologically advanced figures of the furry characters from the films, the ride wows with practical effects taking center stage. The use of projection mapping and screens only enhances the ride’s immersive journey filled with (p)awesome set pieces and incredible attention to detail to transport you on an adventure with something new to see every time. Somehow saying it’s the cutest ride ever feels like an understatement even if you go in unfamiliar with the pets from the films. They will steal your heart, and yes, Max, Snowball, Gidget, Chloe and Duke are all available to adopt for purchase when you exit through the gift shop.
If thrill rides are more your speed–even though we really HIGHLY recommend riding Pets, then you will be excited to know that Jurassic World ride has completed the attraction’s finale set-piece. In 2019 the ride originally re-opened after it was updated to reflect the latest films in the franchise but had a delay in delivering dino power. Riders experienced the classic T-Rex encounter and a glimpse of Blue the Raptor, but the Indominus Rex, as promised, did not debut. The wait for the newest icon of the Jurassic franchise was well worth it as she was ready for her close-up, and we were not prepared. Oh no, not at all prepared to see the way too terrifyingly real Indominus Rex charge toward our boat. Sure, you can find ride-throughs online to take a look, but they do not compare to being there underneath an over 22 feet tall and 55 feet long animatronic. Shuddering just thinking about the fluidity of the movements, its blinking eyes, and those TEETH. Your brain will hardly process just how this totally-not-real-but-real living thing roars in your petrified face as you welcome the plunge back to civilization. Don’t worry. There’s an Isla Nu-Bar as you walk out to take the edge off the experience with tiki drinks.
Overall, it was nice to be back at the working studio theme park for a safe and spaced day out. As much as we love the new rides available, the headlining attraction is always going to be the Studio Backlot tour which takes us to Amity Island to see another set of Jaws, face King Kong in Skull Island and even join the Fast and Furious crew for a ride while touring real movie sets. There are also magical adventures to be had in Hogsmeade Village, which currently has both major rides in operation and amazing experiences and treats from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And finally, there was a curious thing we saw by the Transformers: The Ride queue. A wall went up around the construction area by it announcing Super Nintendo World coming to Universal Studios Hollywood. Could we also be getting the Mario Kart ride that just opened in Japan’s Universal Studios?! We’re excited to find out!
More information about Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk is available on its website.