Universal confirms its new Secret Life of Pets ride

April 10, 2019, 1:50 PM · Anyone who has visited Universal Studios Hollywood in recent months likely has noticed the massive construction project next to the park's Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride. The site of the now-demolished Globe Theater has been tipped to be the home of The Secret Life of Pets attraction that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke announced way back in 2016. But since Burke's reveal to investors three years ago, we've heard nothing official from Universal about the project.

Until now. This morning, Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed that the Globe Theater construction project will indeed become The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!... and that the new dark ride will open in 2020. (And yes, we're already making jokes about the name over on our Discussion Forum.)

From Universal's press release:

In this all-new fully immersive experience, guests will assume the roles of stray puppies as they join a familiar cast of leading characters from The Secret Life of Pets — Max, Snowball, Gidget, Chloe and Duke, along with a host of other animal friends — on the ultimate quest of finding forever homes.

The dark ride will include "live, dimensional and animated characters" along with filmed media. Visitors will ride through New York City streets on their way to a Pet Adoption event. But of course, no journey is easy and uncomplicated in the theme park world, is it?

"We are thrilled to be able to bring another exciting Illumination movie-based ride to our guests," Karen Irwin, President and COO of Universal Studios Hollywood, said in the press release. "The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! will capture the essence of the popular film and invite our guests to live vicariously through some of their favorite characters as they embark on a one-of-a-kind experience only available at Universal Studios Hollywood."

Universal did not release any concept art for the new attraction. Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets 2 hits theaters June 7, 2019. Patton Oswalt takes over as the voice of Max, replacing Louis C.K., who pretty much set his career on fire after getting called out in the Me Too movement. (Which might have been a large reason for the delay in this project, as the movie sequel went on hold for a while to recast.)

Back to the theme park world, this isn't the only big construction project underway at Universal in Hollywood. Jurassic World - The Ride will open this summer, and there's that other big project underway next to Transformers: The Ride 3D, tipped to be the California home of Super Nintendo World.

For tickets and vacation packages to Universal Studios Hollywood, please visit our Universal Studios Hollywood tickets page.

Replies (13)

April 10, 2019 at 2:06 PM

Lets hope there isn't a screen in site, and this is a 'physical' dark ride.

Hopefully it comes to Orlando, and the gridlock screen fatigue area of Despicable Me, Shrek, Fallon, Furious, Transformers areas gets a much needed dark ride to break up the horrenous screen fatigue.

April 10, 2019 at 2:12 PM

Pretty much every dark ride going forward (including those from Disney, too), will include filmed media in some form, even if you don't really notice the screens. (Example? The faces on Epcot's Frozen ride, for one.)

April 10, 2019 at 3:54 PM

Those projected faces look jarring on Frozen, especially when viewed from any side angle- which is inevitable as the boats reach the end of the ride for any guest looking at the characters. Rode countless times during the pre opening tests and noticed immediately, as opposed to on Magic Kingdom's Seven Dwarfs where they are never at that unflattering angle. I don't, however, equate these animatronic faces with the overload of screens used elsewhere.

April 10, 2019 at 3:59 PM

Let's not be facetious Robert, you know what i meant about Universal having a 'screen problem'. A few screens in an actual attraction to accentuate it aren't the problem. The problem is when the whole attraction pretty much involves looking at a screen, and there is no physical aspect to it (be it real scenery, anamotronics, etc). Then repeating the same attraction (looking at screens, usually with 3D glasses) over and again throughout the park.

April 10, 2019 at 4:07 PM

Universal already has a dark ride that breaks up the screen rides: Revenge of the Mummy.

April 10, 2019 at 5:01 PM

Awesome news, though widely speculated. It's always great when a park doesn't lose an attraction to gain an attraction. The Globe Theater was just used during special events. Kudos to Universal for doing this.

Of course the ever-elusive opening date was excluded from this press release. Heck Jurassic World doesn't have a date either much less this new ride.

April 10, 2019 at 5:55 PM

@ Andrew, I think....at least in regards to Universal Studios Hollywood....a big issue is the available space.

They have a smaller footprint to work with, so the "attraction in a box" (i.e. screen based projects) seems to work for them (And because their park is based on IPS that will be constantly changing, I'm sure it also makes its easy to repurpose or change attractions).

Granted, it does get tiring & can be a bit annoying, but I do think there's a reason behind it. Screen based attractions take up less space & specifically at USH, space has always been an issue.

April 10, 2019 at 7:45 PM

Space maybe an issue in Hollywood, but there is plenty of room in Orlando. I've walked around the Orlando resort and there are pretty decent size pockets of space in the existing parks that could easily be utilized.

Screens have been a deliberate (misguided) creative decision, with perhaps a little bit of budget restraints placed on them.

The odd screen attraction for me is wonderful - especially ones (like Spiderman) that are cutting edge. But simple lazy screen attractions give fatigue to even the good ones.

I'm hoping we see a return to a few more dark rides. Something for the family. I've been in Dubai lately, and really enjoyed their spin on Shrek and How to Train your dragon. These were physical attractions, you could see and smell the scenery, animotronics and and actual physical sensation on the body.

April 10, 2019 at 10:53 PM

Correct me please if wrong, but I think this would be the first ride to have its chain-wide premiere in Hollywood since Jurassic Park - The Ride debuted in 1996, three years before Islands of Adventure opened.

*Update: Not counting elements of the Studio Tour that got made into rides elsewhere.

April 10, 2019 at 10:51 PM

And one more thing... if the pets are looking to be adopted to a "forever home," wouldn't that mean they were trying to get ON the leash?

April 11, 2019 at 9:21 AM

@Robert: Wouldn't the Kung-Fu Panda attraction count?

April 11, 2019 at 9:37 AM

This sounds like it might be a Cat in the Hat style dark ride, which might work perfectly in this space in Hollywood. However, to move the needle in Orlando, especially if it's going to anchor a land in a new theme park, it might need to be a bit more ambitious.

April 11, 2019 at 12:32 PM

C'mon, AndrewMciveR! You're stepping seriously over the line into Disney Fanboy territory! Taking a story about a new dark ride being built at Universal Studios Hollywood and using it to blast the ride lineup at Universal Studios Florida is a real stretch!

And since you're so upset about too many screens used in attractions at USF when the whole industry is moving in that direction, what are your thoughts about an actual ride being installed at DHS - Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy? Does that offend your sensibilities also or does the unhappiness with screen-based attractions extend to only Universal parks?

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