Universal Orlando Resort is opening a roller coaster this summer that will be the first to offer a user-customized audio and visual experience. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit lets riders choose the songs they want to hear during the coaster ride from a selection of popular rock, rap, electronica, pop and country songs.
“We have an onboard guest-selectable audio system that works like an MP3 player. Each seat has its own isolated stereo system, so each person on the ride is able to listen to their own song and that song is isolated from everybody else,” explains Louis Alfieri, creative director for Universal Studios.
Riders don’t wear headphones. Instead, the roller coaster’s seats are formed in such a way that the audio waves go only to the person in the seat and are isolated from the other riders. Each seat is outfitted with Polk Audio marine-grade stereo speakers that provide 90 decibels of music, yet those songs aren’t heard by the other riders.
Riders choose their songs — ranging from “Gimme All Your Lovin'” by ZZ Top to “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer or “Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers — using a personal touchpad mounted on the lap bar. “It’s the highest quality audio on any coaster,” Alfieri says.
The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit also incorporates 14 digital cameras onboard the trains and along the track that record high-quality digital video of each rider’s experience. Lasers and computers ensure that the rider sees music and video that are in sync during the ride. Afterwards, each rider’s custom video is sent via a wireless network to a kiosk where a DVD is rendered and sold as a souvenir.
“The video features the music you selected plus 14 live shots of you on the coaster,” Alfieri says. “You’re also able to put you and your friends’ names and other comments on the video in specific areas.”
The ride itself is impressive, featuring stadium-style seats and lap bars rather than shoulder harnesses. The train rides over a treble-clef shaped track that reaches 17-stories high and over several loops at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.
The roller coaster uses a control system that includes Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) that synch up using a wireless network to control the seven trains operating on the track.
“This is the most complicated roller coaster control system that’s ever been achieved,” Alfieri says. “It’s not only the control system but the video onboard and offboard and that every seat has customized audio.”
Universal Orlando also boasts features about the ride that allow riders to interact with the new coaster before and after visiting the park.