A Universal Studios Hollywood commercial features a new glimpse inside the park’s next attraction, The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!

The dark ride was only weeks away from opening before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theme parks nationwide in mid-March. The new commercial that aired first on NBC shows off several of the ride’s scenes, featuring a mix of animatronics and screen-based effects.

Peter Sciretta of Slashfilm got an early look at the attraction in March, reporting that guests assume the role of stray puppies looking for their forever home. Besides being the first Universal Hollywood to employ Universal’s Virtual Line system, it will also create a digital puppy version of riders through optical facial tracking technology. 

In contrast to Universal’s thrill-heavy ride lineup, Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash is a more traditional dark ride in the vein of Disney’s Fantasyland classics. It’s the first time Universal Creative has taken on the traditional animatronic dark ride formula in one of its U.S. parks since the Cat in the Hat opened with Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando in 1999. 

There have been rumors of Universal bringing the attraction to Orlando. Potential sites include the vacant Toon Lagoon Amphitheater in Islands of Adventure and replacing Shrek 4-D in Universal Studios Florida. However, no such plans have been confirmed by Universal, which has a reputation of reticence on discussing upcoming attractions — even for roller coasters being constructed in full view of guests

“These days Universal likes to design attractions that can be built in multiple parks around the world,” Bill Zanetti, a founding member of the University of Central Florida’s Entertainment Management Advisory Board, told Theme Park Tribune in April 2019. “Any announcement today about the ride being built in Hollywood absolutely increases the possibility of it being built at other parks around the world, but your guess is as good as mine on where it might appear next.”

As for when Universal Hollywood’s version will debut, the first step would be getting the park reopened. Hollywood’s CityWalk began welcoming back guests in June, but the theme park has remained closed as a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has kept parks around California shuttered. Then Universal would have to decide whether a new ride would debut with the reopened park; Orlando’s 2020 addition, The Bourne Stuntacular, didn’t begin operating until weeks after the parks’  June 5 reopening.

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