The Best Rides At Universal Studios Hollywood, Ranked

Koopas? Wizards? Minions? Check, check, and check. In the heart of Tinsel Town, Universal Studios Hollywood touts itself as "the entertainment capital of Los Angeles" for good reason. Here, spectacular thrill rides themed to some of the world's biggest movies rub shoulders with a sacred labyrinth of sets and soundstages where cinema history was made — and is still being made today.

If your usual stomping grounds are Universal Orlando, the west coast counterpart will come as a bit of a culture shock. Orlando, especially these days, moreso celebrates the spirit of movies instead of actually making movies onsite. In contrast, Universal Studios Hollywood is the real deal. Unlike Florida, the California destination is a working studio first, theme park second. Its singular park (compared to Florida's two, soon to be three) contains plenty of rides, but its sprawling mountainside property is also home to backlots and soundstages where high-profile films and television shows are actively in production.

That being said, in recent years, Universal Studios Hollywood has prioritized building more theme park attractions. You'll notice most of the rides on our list opened within the last decade or so. (In the years to come, a "Fast & Furious" roller coaster, now under construction, will join them.) Whether you're a thrill-seeker or movie buff, there's something for everyone in this incredible park. Here's every ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, ranked.

11. Silly Swirly

Even if you've never visited Universal Studios Hollywood, you've likely been on some variation of Silly Swirly before. Riders sit in vehicles individually attached to long, robotic arms, connected to a central mechanical system. When the ride begins, the arms lift the vehicles gently into the air and move them in a slow, clock-like fashion. At Disneyland, it's Dumbo. Here, it's Silly Swirly.

Silly Swirly is part of Super Silly Fun Land, an outdoor area themed to "Despicable Me" that opened in 2014. Due to space limitations, the carnival-like area literally sits on top of a parking deck. However, you may not even notice that from inside the park. Even though Silly Swirly is far from original, it's one of the few attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood that tiny tykes are tall enough to ride. As riders pick a monster to ride on and soar above Super Silly Fun Land, Minions loudly sing pop hits in gibberish over the speakers. In a park where Super Nintendo World exists, Silly Swirly is an easy choice for the bottom of our ride ranking.

10. Flight of the Hippogriff

Come for the kiddie coaster, stay for the immaculate views of Hogwarts. Flight of the Hippogriff is a small, outdoor roller coaster located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It sits at the tip of Hogsmeade Village, just outside the border of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (more about the ride inside the castle later).

Within the lore of this area, Flight of the Hippogriff begins at Hagrid's hut. Riders are meant to imagine themselves soaring above the Hogwarts grounds on the back of a Hippogriff. The creature, resembling a bird and a horse, was first introduced in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." The kiddie coaster is pretty straightforward, offering a mild thrill that lasts barely a minute long. It's a great option as a child's first roller coaster.

Here on the west coast, Flight of the Hippogriff is the only roller coaster in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (The east coast counterpart has its own Flight of the Hippogriff, plus two high-tech, cutting-edge coasters taking place in the Forbidden Forest and inside Gringotts Bank.) Hollywood's Wizarding World opened in 2016, six years after the inaugural Hogsmeade debuted in Orlando. Make sure to allot time to explore the nearby Hogsmeade shops, whose blueprints are straight out of the movies. Of course, Hogsmeade is also where you can find Butterbeer, the Wizarding World's signature (non-alcoholic) drink. Riders must be at least 39 inches tall to ride Flight of the Hippogriff.

9. Transformers: The Ride 3D

"Autobots, roll out!" Optimus Prime declares, seemingly talking to... you? You're a Transformer now, or something? Sure, we'll go with that. The flashy technology of Transformers: The Ride 3D, which opened in 2012, is dazzling in some parts and overblown in others.

As you don 3D glasses, you and Optimus Prime traverse a cityscape at nighttime to fight Megatron and other bad guys. Your trackless ride vehicle glides through the "streets," in and out of various environments that merge physical sets with screen-based action. During some scenes, the sets and screens blend together seamlessly. Other times, the ride seems to have given up altogether on maintaining the illusion, unceremoniously presenting sequences in pitch-black rooms void of any set decoration.

It's not a roller coaster, but some guests may find this ride thrilling. It's definitely not for those who are prone to motion sickness, nor is it for those who are overwhelmed by high-sensory environments. This being Transformers, there are lots of explosions, clanking metal, and an otherwise ongoing cacophony of chaos. The ride system's combo of a traditional dark ride with a simulator is inventive, but as a whole, this ride is a little hectic. We much prefer The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, an Orlando staple that uses the same format, but sadly doesn't exist at Universal Studios Hollywood. Riders must be at least 40 inches tall to experience Transformers: The Ride 3D.

8. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

This madcap simulator misadventure is great fun for any family who loves Minions, even if the ride itself is pretty basic. Sitting in a large auditorium, your seat sways with motion as you watch a four-minute video on a huge screen. At the beginning, Gru's daughters transform you into a Minion. (You're just becoming all sorts of fantastical creatures today, aren't you?) From there, it's off to the races as you perilously bounce through Gru's laboratory, narrowly avoiding sudden death on more than one occasion.

The voice cast from the movies reprise their roles, including Steve Carell and Miranda Cosgrove. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem opened here in California in 2014 after first debuting in Florida in 2012. (Both attractions are identical, despite the overall parks being much different.) As is usual for anything Minions-related, Minion Mayhem is best enjoyed if you let loose and have fun. Go on, talk like a Minion! And don't forget to participate in the dance party at the exit — you're on vacation!

If you're traveling with a huge Minion fan, you might want to grab a bite to eat at the nearby Minion Café. While the establishment has its fair share of "normal" food, its specialty items include Nutella banana pudding and banana barbecue sauce. Guests must be at least 40 inches tall to ride Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

7. Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride

Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, an indoor roller coaster, delivers thrills and a spooky story. Skeletal mummies in both robotic and projection form threaten to, well, steal your soul as your coaster train rollicks forward and backward through the dark.

For now, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride is the park's only tried-and-true white-knuckle roller coaster. (Flight of the Hippogriff is a coaster, but not a very thrilling one.) In the coming years, a "Fast & Furious"-themed coaster will join Revenge of the Mummy as part of Universal Studios Hollywood's roster. It's currently under construction, and its opening date has yet to be announced.

Universal Studios Hollywood opened Revenge of the Mummy in 2004, around the same time that Florida opened its own version of the coaster. Though similar in many ways, the California version is shorter, with fewer special effects and no Brendan Fraser. Notably, Revenge of the Mummy's existence is a bit blasphemous. The coaster replaced the beloved E.T. Adventure, a lovely, if a bit bizarre, family-friendly ride taking place inside the world of Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic. (You can still get your E.T. fix in Orlando.) Guests must be at least 48 inches tall to experience Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride.

6. The Simpsons Ride

This unique take on a simulator attraction (recycled from the former "Back to the Future" ride) places you in a coaster-style ride vehicle. Rather than traveling along a track, though, your car seemingly has a mind of its own as it syncs with the action of a giant screen in front of you. The Simpsons Ride, which opened in 2008, transports guests into the familiar town of Springfield with visual gags and hilarious dialogue that matches the sharp wit of the long-running animated series.

The Simpsons Ride is easily among the funniest theme park attractions ever built, valuing comedy as equally as it values thrill. The script often takes jabs at the theme park industry. (One villain taunts, "Don't you know all rides must end in the gift shop?!") Most of the extended cast of eclectic characters from the television show makes an appearance at some point, performed by their original voice actors.

This is one of the few attractions that might actually be better with a longer wait. Throughout the queue, props and videos (featuring specially made content and classic clips from the television show) set up the story. If you're a fan of the show, allot extra time to explore the surrounding Springfield area, which Universal installed in 2015. You can even grab a bite to eat at Krusty Burger, Moe's Tavern, or Kwik-E-Mart. Guests must be at least 40 inches tall to experience The Simpsons Ride.

5. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash

This family-friendly indoor ride is as adorable as they come, and is filled with impressive robotic animals. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash is a slow-moving attraction (think similar to the fairy tale rides at Disneyland, like Ariel's Undersea Adventure) within the world of the hit animated movie series from Illumination. Turns out, you're a dog. (A transformer, a Minion, and now a dog? What a day!) It's your "gotcha" day, and it's time to meet your owner.

As you may have noticed, Universal does screens really well. After riding a few screen-based attractions, though — even the jaw-droppingly spectacular ones — you might begin to wonder if the park has anything else in its arsenal. While screens are employed within Off the Leash sporadically, the ride is unique among others in the park for presenting its story in non-virtual reality. The sets are actually there in front of you, not built from pixels. The characters are furry robots, not projections. (It also helps that they're super cute.) Off the Leash is a pleasantly different flavor of Universal ride.

Universal was on track to open Off the Leash in March 2020. You might be able to guess what caused the ride to remain shuttered for over a year after that. The attraction finally opened to guests in April 2021. Guests must be at least 34 inches tall to ride The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash.

4. Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge

For many guests, stepping into Super Nintendo World is nothing short of a lifelong dream come true. Upon venturing through an oversized green warp pipe, you emerge into the Mushroom Kingdom. The details are straight out of your favorite Mario games, from Goombas patrolling the elevated walkways to piranha plants chomping their teeth. As for the land's ride? Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge places you in your very own kart for a race with all the bells and whistles from the beloved games.

While the action is fast-paced, the ride itself is relatively slow-moving. While it's a bummer that a Mario Kart ride isn't all that thrilling, the wish fulfillment of getting to be part of the iconic video game is still well worth the visit. Making things even cooler, you get to wear special goggles (disguised as Mario's cap!) that allow you to see augmented-reality special effects on the track.

California's Super Nintendo World opened in 2023, following a version at Universal Studios Japan in 2021. Come 2025, Orlando will receive a Super Nintendo World of its own, as part of Universal Epic Universe, a new theme park. Aside from the Mario Kart ride, here in California, guests can meet Mario and friends in person, participate in interactive games activated by using a for-purchase bracelet, and dine at Toadstool Café. ("One Chef Toad short rib special, please!") Guests must be at least 40 inches tall to ride Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge.

3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the centerpiece attraction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is a greatest-hits escapade through Hogwarts featuring a euphoric whirlwind of characters and locations from the movie series. Guests ride in a bench-like vehicle, restrained by a shoulder harness. Though not visible to guests, the bench is attached to a robotic arm of sorts that guides it up, down, and all around the ride's twists and turns. Sometimes you swoop through physical sets, like the massive Whomping Willow tree. Other times you glide in front of a screen through fast-moving scenery, like the Quidditch pitch. It's physically exhilarating and narratively exquisite.

There's not so much of a story, per se, other than, "You're new at Hogwarts and Harry is gonna show you around." That's perfectly fine, though, because this allows for a flexible itinerary that packs in everything a Harry Potter fan would want from a visit to Hogwarts. (Dementors! Malfoy! The Chamber of Secrets!) Even better, original cast members filmed exclusive footage from the ride while the movies were still in production.

The queue is among the industry's best, winding its way through Hogwarts sites like Dumbledore's office and the Gryffindor common room. Along with the rest of The Wizarding World, Forbidden Journey opened in Hollywood in 2016, following its initial debut in Orlando in 2010. Guests must be at least 48 inches tall to ride.

2. Jurassic World: The Ride

This boat ride begins as a slow-moving zoological tour of dinosaurs. As you might be able to predict, things don't go according to plan. Next thing you know, a flesh-hungry dinosaur is chasing you and you've got no choice but to plunge down a waterfall. Jurassic World: The Ride is a satisfying balance of tranquility and thrill, mirroring the majestic but threatening demeanor of dinosaurs themselves. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles from the movies in footage shot especially for this ride.

The attraction opened in 1996 as Jurassic Park: The Ride — same layout, same basic experience, much older tech. A 2019 overhaul brought the attraction into the twenty-first century and updated its story to reflect the new trilogy of movies, now called Jurassic World: The Ride.

Among the most impressive new elements? The voyage now features what might be the most terrifyingly lifelike dinosaur robot you've ever seen. Another new addition is a wrap-around screen tunnel that appears to be glass looking into an aquarium. As an aquatic dino splashes water onto the "surface," the water animation seamlessly becomes real water and splashes onto you from overhead. The ride is brilliant — and you will get wet. Nearby, playing up the theme of Jurassic World being a real place, guests are invited to encounter "real" dinosaurs, aka super cool full-body puppets. Guests must be at least 42 inches tall to experience Jurassic World: The Ride.

1. The World-Famous Studio Tour

The World-Famous Studio Tour (that's its actual name, we're not just calling it that) is hands-down the best ride in Universal Studios Hollywood, and it's not even close. This two-hour (!) tram ride is Universal's answer to the classic "studio tour" formula that many tourists come to Hollywood to experience. You'll travel through real sets, like those for "Back to the Future," "The Good Place," "Nope," and many more. If you're lucky, you might even see a production in progress. This is, after all, a working movie studio.

The Studio Tour also features several story-driven moments. A 360-degree screen depicts an epic battle between King Kong and a dinosaur. Another simulator-style space immerses the tram in the middle of a chase with characters from "Fast & Furious." When your tram rolls by a seaside town, it's not long before Jaws himself lurches from the water with a jump-scare. These sequences are basically attractions themselves (and, in several other Universal parks worldwide, are just that), but all take place within the two-hour tour without you ever having to leave the tram.

The tour welcomed its first guests in 1964, before the studio built the adjacent theme park attractions. The World-Famous Studio Tour is worth the day's admission by itself. (Just make sure to plan a bathroom break before you board.) It makes for a near-perfect highlight of a vacation that could perhaps also include a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame or the Hollywood sign.