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Go Inside the Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood

The Universal Studios dark ride is celebrating its two-year anniversary just as The Secret Life of Pets hits Peacock.

By Tara Bennett
The Secret Life of Pets ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.

If you're planning summer travel to Universal Studios Hollywood this year, be sure to wish The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! a happy birthday as the family-friendly dark ride based on Illumination Entertainment's hit animated films of the same name turns two. It's the perfect family outing after viewing The Secret Life of Pets, which just started streaming on Peacock earlier this month.

Originally slated to debut in the park in 2020, the COVID pandemic delayed the ride's grand opening by a year to April 2021. Since its launch, The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! has been a huge hit and just one of two rides in the whole park that allows guests to sign up to a Virtual Line to secure a ride during the theme park day. 

RELATED: Best Animated Films Streaming Now: The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Secret Life of Pets & More

As for the experience itself, Off the Leash! is a slow track ride — meaning no hills or spills — that takes guests through multiple animatronic augmented rooms featuring the actual voice actors from the second film, including Eric Stonestreet as Duke, Kevin Hart as Snowball and Jenny Slate as Gidget. In a brand-new story unique to the ride, guests enter a two-seat "cardboard box" to become part of the story as a lost puppy roaming the streets of New York City hoping to unite with an adopted family. 

The Secret Life of Pets ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.

No knowledge of the two Secret Life of Pets films is necessary to understand the story of Off the Leash!. In fact, everything you need to know is revealed in the long and winding ride queue that guides guests through Katie's apartment (voiced by Ellie Kemper in the films) and other various apartments featuring an array of pets hanging out at home while their people are out for the day.

Using audio of the movie characters and new voice work, the queue takes people through an aural and visual journey to witness the warm and funny dynamic pets and their owners have together. We also get a peek at the pets getting into mischief together, and by themselves, without human supervision. 

Universal Parks Secret Life of Pets

A distinct aspect of Off the Leash! is that it was created to not be a thrill ride, but an opportunity for guests and families to get lost in the visual storytelling in a non-stressful way. The ride designers worked closely with the Illumination Entertainment team over two years to create the story.

In 2021, Jon Corfino, the creative director of Universal Creative, told the Los Angeles Times that the ride is actually a throwback experience akin to older rides like E.T. Adventure (1991). “You can take a look at our rides and attractions, and we don’t really have 64 animated characters that you’re that close to," he explained. "Yet you want to pet these. You want to be around them.”

Universal Parks Secret Life of Pets

Once seated inside the "cardboard box" guest mover, the journey aims to turn the stray pups who enter the ride into adoptable and adorable puppies in the end. In fact, as guests move through the environments, there are two chances to see what kind of puppy you are — one of 15 different breeds — which means return trips will give you a different surprise puppy perspective to discover each ride.  

The Secret Life of Pets ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The boxes weave through the streets of New York City as Duke, Snowball and Pops the Bassett Hound (Dana Carvey) guide the strays to safety and a major clean up before everyone collects inside Katie's apartment for one heck of a party. And of course, the ride ends in a gift shop that allows you to adopt your own pet from the films, or even get a souvenir to bring home for your own beloved fur baby.

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! is a Universal Studios Hollywood exclusive and operates daily during park hours. Be sure to download the Universal Studios Hollywood App to secure a Virtual Line reservation the day you visit the park. 

While you're at Universal Studios Hollywood, don't forget to check out the new Super Nintendo World!

The Secret Life of Pets is now streaming on Peacock!