With construction well underway, Universal Studios Hollywood finally confirmed that a new The Secret Life of Pets dark ride will open in the park next year, but we might still be years away from a similar attraction in Orlando.
A Secret Life of Pets attraction had previously been researched as a replacement to Shrek at Universal Studios Florida. The multi-story attraction would have featured a somewhat similar storyline to the now confirmed version heading to Hollywood but with a few distinct differences.
The primary difference is Universal has now opted to go with a more traditional ride system instead of the trackless one that the original ride concept had. In the press release, Universal confirmed that “guests zip along a track aboard ride vehicles through bustling New York City streets.” Despite this change, much of the storyline seems similar to the original, but instead of searching for one of the lost pets, guests will now be on their way to an adoption event.
Another important difference is Universal also confirmed that the new Secret Life of Pets ride will “blend live, dimensional and animated characters with hyper-realistic media.” With the criticism of Universal parks leaning too heavily on screens for their attractions, Universal Creative has been rumored to be looking at new ways to tell stories, including embracing audio animatronics more.
The new Orlando park is rumored to be featuring multiple attractions with few to no screens. The original Pets attraction also had an impressive lineup of animatronics with few to no screens on it. Now it looks like Universal has decided that some screens are acceptable, even in a family dark ride setting.
The Hollywood version of the attraction will open next year. The plan looks to be moving forward, even if this summer’s sequel to the original is a flop. That confidence is thanks in part to Universal already seeing success with the characters via a parade float and photo-ops. According to those familiar with internal data, even those who are unfamiliar with the movie franchise itself have positive interest in the characters.
While speculation of an Orlando version is running rampant after the Hollywood announcement, if currently rumored timelines are correct, it could be years until Orlando gets a version of the ride. Unlike Universal Hollywood, in Orlando, the two parks have more themed lands making it more difficult to find a suitable location for the ride with it still likely heading to Universal Studios Florida.
The Shrek attraction that it was initially rumored to be replacing is now thought to be remaining open until just before the new South Campus park opens sometime in the early to mid-2020s. But Pets isn’t the only concept Universal has looked at for this space. A trackless Minion ride, similar to the Hotel Transylvania ride at the Motiongate park in Dubai, has also been rumored for the same area.
Both concepts now look to be on hold as Universal decides what to do with both the aging Toon Lagoon in Islands of Adventure and the woefully outdated Fievel and Barney anchored Kids Zone at Universal Studios, which was previously where the Super Nintendo World was to be located before that concept was moved to the new, yet-to-be-announced park.
What is clear is that Universal is designing the new Pets ride in Hollywood as a simple box-like footprint that would allow for it to be easily repeated in other parks if it proves popular, even if it takes years for it to happen.
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