If a Nonexistent Coaster Makes a Sound, Does Anyone Hear It?

April 3, 2023, 1:15 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood has begun testing its new roller coaster... that it hasn't even built yet.

Universal has been tipped to install a new Fast & Furious-themed roller coaster on the hillside next to the Starway escalators that connect the theme park's Upper and Lower Lot. Earlier this year, Universal closed its Animal Actors and Castle Theater buildings in preparation for construction of the new attraction.

However, Universal's plans for the new coaster won't work if its sound disrupts filming on the backlot. Or if it elicits enough complaints from neighbors that local government looks to block it. So Universal has been playing crowd and coaster noises from speakers along the coaster's proposed route, to test from how far away it might be heard.

Plenty of Universal theme park visitors have reported hearing the sound test. But that's not a problem - park guests are expected to hear the coaster and its riders screaming. What Universal wants to limit, if not eliminate, is the number of people on the backlot and in the neighboring community who can hear the ride.

Where Universal records coaster test sound that a microphone might pick up will determine where Universal might need to place sound shielding in order to protect audio integrity on the backlot and keep neighbors from potentially complaining about the sound.

Universal has been transforming its backlot in recent years, as it looks to both expand the theme park while also supporting increased production on the lot. The old Phantom of the Opera soundstage gave way to the park's new Super Nintendo World, while the park's old "parting of the Red Sea" bit and surrounding lake gave way to new soundstages.

The addition of new outdoor attractions, especially a roller coaster, promises to further change the dynamic on Universal City's property. Universal's first outdoor coaster was the Flight of the Hippogriff in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but that was a relatively mild family coaster built well within the park's Upper Lot boundaries, so sound bleed was not an issue for it.

That won't be the case for a more thrilling coaster built along the park's exposed hillside. Once testing and analysis is complete, perhaps we will begin getting official news from Universal about its plans for this new attraction.

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Replies (4)

April 3, 2023 at 2:52 PM

Off topic here a bit but wasn't the Phantom of the Opera stage haunted? Only a matter of time before a Toad animatronic starts moving on its own in Super Nintendo World :o

As for the coaster, man I sure hope it comes through. The attraction especially over the hillside will be a fun one. Obviously I'm sure some tunnels or shields will be utilized like they are/were for California Screamin' and Maliboomer at DCA. I just hope it comes through. Universal sound engineers lets see you do your best work, you all can make this happen!

April 3, 2023 at 3:20 PM

Too bad they can't just keep a mask mandate for the ride itself!! Problem solved..lol

April 3, 2023 at 4:17 PM

@Manny Barron That was a long-standing bit on both the Studio Tour and even dipped into occasionally for Horror Nights.

April 3, 2023 at 4:28 PM

If the sound's too loud, just enclose the ride, switch the theme, and call it the Warp Pipe Coaster. Problem solved.

Let's make this ride happen!

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