After over a year of it being mothballed, the Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood has soft-opened to the public. This ride has some really interesting behind-the-scenes info on it. Here are 5 things I’ll bet you didn’t know about the attraction.
It Wasn’t Supposed To Go Into The Upper Lot
Believe it or not, this project has been in development before the first Secret Life of Pets movie hit the theaters. During the early stages of design, this was headed for the lower lot at Universal Studios Hollywood. Notice, there is a marquee for a Pitch Perfect show in the shot as well above. Pitch Perfect has been… well… pitched several times for a Universal attraction, but nothing ever sticks.
Even more interesting, when they started clearing land in the lower lot at USH, it was actually for Secret Life of Pets. However, once the plans for Nintendo fell into place, they felt that Secret Life of Pets (SLOP) would be a better fit in the upper lot near the Illumination attractions of Despicable Me. Now a smaller version of the Nintendo area that opened at Universal Studios Japan will open in the same cleared land in the lower lot. Most likely it will be ready in late 2022.
You Were Going To Ride On A Roomba
Early in the development of the Secret Life of Pets ride, guests were actually going to ride a giant Roomba throughout the attraction. It was going to be a circular ride vehicle that would have been trackless. During the adventure, other pets would come riding up beside you on their Roomba and interact with you. At one point, it was even going to be a two-story ride where the Roomba entered an elevator (themed like a dumbwaiter), similar to the system used on the Transformers attraction.
As these things go, the cool ride system was scrapped and value engineered into the omni-mover attraction that is now open at Universal Studios Hollywood. It would have been another first-of-its-kind ride system, but perhaps better that it didn’t open since those are often temperamental for about a year while the bugs are worked out.
It Was Going To Be Built At Universal Orlando
When this attraction was in development, there were plans to bring Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash to Universal Orlando as well. If there is one thing that is lacking at Universal Parks, its family-friendly rides. There were two places the ride was slotted to wind up. The first is the Shrek 4-D building at Universal Studios Florida.
The second was the Toon Lagoon amphitheater at Islands of Adventure. This space has barely been used since Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. However, both of these locations would have meant the demolition of the current structures and a new show building to house a Secret Life of Pets attraction be built in their place. As costs for the attraction grew, the ride was ultimately scrapped for Universal Orlando. However, never say never, we still could see this in Orlando at some point.
The Animated Figures Were Going To Have Projection Faces
Rumor has it that Romaire Studios and LifeFormations built the animatronic figures seen in the attractions. They look fantastic and true to the animated film. However, Universal was going down a path to have some of these figures have projected faces.
You’ve seen it with Disney for years now where figures like the Seven Dwarves or Buzz Lightyear have animated faces that are rear projected. Universal has been working on their own version of this with a few outside vendors. However, they ultimately pulled the plug on it before getting the attraction open.
Quietly, Universal has been working on their own animatronics that have yet to see the light of day. However thatis another story for another time.
Pandemic Creates More Diversity
You’ll notice at the end of Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash, various families who follow your ride vehicle. The story of the attraction is you (the rider) are a pet and getting ready for adoption. At the end, your ride vehicle enters the adoption center and prospective families follow you as your vehicle travels along its path.
Universal intentionally created these families to not only look like they came from the universe the film was created in (they have a specific animation style). In addition, these families are diverse on purpose. However, since the attraction was pretty much ready to go just as the pandemic started, it gave them a chance to go back and look at the ride before the public could ride it.
What occurred to them was out of all the families they created to represent, there wasn’t a family with gay parents. So, very quietly during quarantine, they created another family that is looking to adopt a pet. They animated it, created the voices for it and to my knowledge, it should be in the attraction by now. If anyone has seen it, let me know since I won’t have a chance to visit the park for a bit.
Hope you found these facts interesting and you can give some trivia to your friends as you get a chance to experience The Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash at Universal Studios Hollywood! As always, any info contained in this article is considered to be unofficial until Universal officially says otherwise.
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