Written by David "Indy" Graham
Now before you start to think Universal is getting ready to increase it's pyrotechnics at night, I'm sorry to say that's not the case. It's not because they can't afford it, or they lack the creativity to come up with ideas for a great show either. Now I know some of you might be thinking- what's he talking about I've seen fireworks at Universal? in fact you might be thinking they do them for the Cinematic Celebration; however those are only classified as pyrotechnics due to the height Universal fires them into the air.
So then why doesn't Universal have fireworks like Disney parks? Well, at it's current location (as we are hopeful that Epic Universe might have them) the quickest answer is to look at Universal Orlando on Google maps and the surrounding area. If you look closely you will see there is a high school (Dr. Phillips) directly behind Islands of Adventure, as well as houses and apartments within walking distance to the resort. Because of this, Universal is restricted on a lot of things they can do because of Orlando's residential zoning laws. Universal actually tracks the noise levels around the park, especially during Halloween Horror Nights, as they can be fined by Orange County/Orlando for violations- which can add up to a few thousands quickly. Universal has even had a noise pollution phone number for the residents to call; Universal will send someone to the closest park location to that complaint to measure the volume and then report and adjust it as needed.
Just to give even more insight into how much of a concern noise from the park is- even before Universal Orlando opened on June 7, 1990 there were already concerns from the neighboring residents regarding noise levels. To help (even then) with the concerns, Universal hired a noise consultant company as well as requested to have the maximum noise level increased from the 60 decibels for short periods of time each day. The current level at that time was 60 decibels, which is comparable to the level that most people watch their TV at. Universal's request was to be allowed to go above maximum noise levels for only 2 1/2 minutes every half hour or 5 minutes per hour.
Just think- that was before the park even opened in 1990; the concerns were there and changes were being requested. Looking at the current Noise Related Ordinances for commercial areas in Orlando from 7AM-10PM it's 70 dBA/75 dBC and from 10PM-7AM it's 65 dBA/70 dBC. So what does that mean really to most people? The A-weighted level (dBA) is the most common single number measure of loudness. The C-weighting network is used mainly as a measure of the broadband sound pressure level as well as for recording. Occasionally an (L C - L A) level is used to describe the relative contribution of low-frequency noise to a spectrum.
So what do you think? Are you happy with the current pyro that they have or do you wish they could have larger fireworks like Disney? I also included the article link from back in 1988 below that talked more about the noise concerns when building just the original park.