Thrills for all ages: 6 best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is more than a theme park. It’s a real, working movie studio where big-screen blockbusters like “King Kong,” “Jurassic Park,” “Back to the Future” and dozens more have been filmed since it opened in 1915.

Dubbed simply “Universal City” when it opened, the studio charged visitors a 25-cent admission fee to watch movies being filmed.

In 1964, the studio opened its first official ride — a backlot tram tour that gave visitors a behind-the-scenes look at movie sets and props used in Universal films and, if they were lucky, a movie being filmed right before their eyes.

Related: The best hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood added more rides and attractions over the years and evolved into the world-renowned theme park it is today. You can still catch a glimpse of movie magic in the making, but you can also ride attractions based on your favorite films (and, in one case, a video game).

Here are the six best rides you won’t want to miss during your next visit to Universal Studios Hollywood.

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

Location: Lower Lot.
Rider requirements: Must be at least 40 inches tall to ride and 48 inches tall to ride alone.

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is the only ride (though hardly the only way to have fun) in Universal Studios Hollywood’s newest land – Super Nintendo World.


To enter the ride, you must first journey into the depths of Bowser’s Castle (aka the ride’s queue).

Along the way, you’ll see the production of Mario Kart paraphernalia like Bullet Bills and Bob-Ombs, lockers with each character’s racing uniform and clues that reveal Bowser’s plan to thwart Team Mario.


Before putting the pedal to the metal on your real-world Mario Kart race, you’ll receive a specially designed visor that lets you see both the physical sets and augmented reality features of the ride.

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge seamlessly blends the physical and virtual worlds to effectively turn you into a video game character.

Your score at the end of the game (or ride) depends on how well you steer your vehicle and how many bad guys you hit by throwing turtle shells at them while you race.

It may take a little getting used to because you use your hands to steer the car, but to throw turtle shells, you look in the direction of your target and hit the trigger on your steering wheel.

This ride is as addicting as any video game, and you’ll probably want to ride again and again to try and improve your score and beat Team Bowser.

Jurassic World — The Ride

Location: Lower Lot.
Rider requirements: Must be at least 42 inches tall to ride and 48 inches tall to ride alone.

A serene and educational boat tour through a dinosaur theme park … what could go wrong? Not to spoil the ride, but the answer is “a lot.”

Jurassic World – The Ride is not your typical flume ride.

Before you climb to the tippy-top of that 84-foot-tall drop down to the biggest splash of your life, your ride starts as a slow-moving journey past a swimming (if somewhat agitated) Mosasaurus, a baby Stegosaurus and a Parasaurolophus.


As tends to happen in theme parks full of dinosaurs, things quickly take a turn for the worse, and your boat is suddenly being stalked by some very large predators with very sharp teeth. You may escape the dinosaurs, but you won’t escape the splash.

Jurassic World — The Ride is a must-do for any fan of the movie franchise or prehistoric reptiles in general. However, if you’re worried about getting wet, don a poncho for the ride and store your belongings in a free locker.

Revenge of the Mummy — The Ride

Location: Lower Lot.
Rider requirements: Must be at least 48 inches tall to ride.


Revenge of the Mummy — The Ride is a roller coaster that takes you back in time. Not all the way back to ancient Egypt, but to 1926 when the events of the 1999 film “The Mummy” take place.

This ride takes you deep into Imhotep’s tomb, which is cloaked in the ancient curse he left behind. Unlike a traditional coaster, Revenge of the Mummy — The Ride is part slow-moving dark ride and part high-speed coaster.

Most of the show scenes occur during the slower parts of the ride, including lots of mummies, artifacts and some creepy, crawly scarabs. Your ride vehicle then races off into the dark, reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

Fun fact: If you can read hieroglyphics, the ones featured throughout the ride, including the queue, are real and more or less translate to a warning not to enter. However, at that point, it’s too late to change your mind, so you’ll have to take your chances.

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash

Location: Upper Lot.
Rider requirements: Must be at least 34 inches tall to ride and 48 inches tall to ride alone.


The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash is a family-friendly dark ride that turns you into a loveable and totally adoptable pet.

The ride uses a combination of screen-based technology and physical sets with furry, fluffy animatronics. It takes you on a journey through the streets of New York City on your way to being adopted.

During your ride, you’ll see Max, Duke and their friends up to some adorably mischievous antics. Of course, before you can be adopted, you’ll need to visit Gidget’s grooming salon to get freshened up. This is arguably the most hilarious part of the ride because you get to watch yourself in animal form get dried off after your bath.

This is one ride the entire family will enjoy. Before or after your ride, look for Snowball the rabbit chatting with passersby from a nearby apartment balcony.

The Studio Tour

Location: Upper Lot.
Rider requirements: All ages are welcome.

The Studio Tour is unlike any other theme park ride in the world, and there are a few reasons why.

One, you may get to see a movie or TV show in active production.

Two, you can see actual props and sets from movies spanning nearly 100 years.

Three, it incorporates 3D experiences and special effects that make you feel like you are in the movies that were filmed on the iconic studio lot.


During your nearly 60-minute tour, you’ll pass through sets from “Psycho,” “Jaws,” “War of the Worlds” and more.

You’ll also see realistic demonstrations of how movie makers create flash floods and earthquakes, as well as 3D recreations of “The Fast and the Furious” and “King Kong” that put you in the middle of the action.


This ride can be different every time you visit. This is because the various Wild West and city street sets that are often used in movies may be in use as your tram passes through, so you never know who or what you might see.

Pro tip: You can bring food and drinks (including alcohol) on this ride. There is a snack stand at the entrance to the Studio Tour, so you can acquire tram treats before the ride.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Location: Upper Lot.
Rider requirements: Must be at least 48 inches tall to ride.


For “Harry Potter” fans, there is no greater place to live out their dreams of being a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry than a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Here, you can drink Butterbeer, practice wand spells and walk the halls of Hogwarts.

In the school, you’ll see replica props from the books and films, like Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room and the Sorting Hat.

The actual ride uses a unique technology that pivots your seat as it moves forward along a suspended track, mimicking a magical flight through the castle grounds, the Forbidden Forest and other familiar scenes.

During the ride, you’ll encounter magical creatures, both good and evil. Also, the mix of screens and physical sets makes the experience feel all the more realistic.

If you are prone to motion sickness, this ride may be too intense. You do have the option to walk through the castle (the journey through the queue is worth it) and step into the waiting room to wait for your fellow wizards while they ride.

Bottom line

There’s no “bad” ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Some are fun for kids, some for adults and some for the whole family. There are even play areas for kids who aren’t into rides yet (or need a break from the stroller).

In fact, you can typically get on all of the rides at Universal Studios Hollywood in one day. These rides, in particular, are the ones we would run to as soon as the gates open, wait for the longest, and ride again and again.

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