Yesterland Sounds Dangerous
with Drew Carey
Disney's Sounds Dangerous at Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, studios

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007


Sounds Dangerous could also be called Sit in Complete Darkness. That’s what you do during most of this 12-minute show starring actor-comedian Drew Carey.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Approaching the theater

The official park website includes this paragraph:

Ready to go undercover with a television detective? Check out what happens when Drew Carey takes to the small screen as an actor playing a gumshoe who bungles his first on-camera case. When the hidden camera in his tie gets damaged, the video disappears and the theater is plunged into total darkness—leaving you to listen in as the hilarious mystery unfolds.

So let’s go!


Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Attraction poster

Here’s the premise: You’ll be in the audience for the pilot of a live reality show called Undercover Live. Undercover police detective Charlie Foster (played by Drew Carey) will wear a state-of-the-art spycam and “super-sensitive microphones.” You’ll experience exactly what the detective experiences.

Exciting, eh?

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Entrance to the waiting area

While waiting to enter the theater, try to answer the trivia questions on the video monitors. If you want to do well, make sure you’re knowledgeable about minor characters from The Drew Carey Show on ABC television.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Warning

The theater will be dark. Very dark. Not quite as dark as Carlsbad Caverns with the lights tuned off. But darn dark.

The loud noises might include young children crying because it’s so dark.

You have been warned.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Headphones between each pair of seats

Take a seat. Grab headphones from a bin to your left or right. Put on the headphones... Wait!

Other guests have been wearing the same headphones all day. You might at least want to wipe them off thoroughly with a tissue.

You’re told, “Nothing is rehearsed. There is no script. We don’t know what will happen, but we do know one thing. You’ll be there—Undercover Live!

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Not really a photo

Complete darkeness

The show begins with “live video” on the screen in the front of the theater. Why is Foster wearing a uniform if he’s an undercover cop? It’s because he’s disguised as a temporary security guard. That’s how he’s gaining access to a snowglobe company suspected of being a front for a smuggling operation.

Someone is coming! Foster quickly hides the camera... in his mouth.

State-of-the-art apparently does not include being waterproof. The picture quickly goes black. Except for a few brief moments when the video tries to come back, the rest of the show takes place in darkness... or, more accurately, it takes place inside your head.

The binaural headphones give the impression that things are happening right by your ears—including getting a haircut and having killer bees buzzing around your head.

After a series of mishaps that you can hear but not see, Foster triumphs.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Soundworks

After the show, you exit from the theater into Soundworks, with its interactive kiosks and Soundstations private sound booths. Be a foley artist, adding sound effects to movie clips. And be a voice performer for classic Disney animation.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Inside a Soundstations sound booth

The highlight of Soundworks is listening to binaural sound while sitting in complete darkness in Soundstations booths that are sized for just a few people. If that seems like more of the same after the show you just sat through—you’re right; there’s even another virtual haircut.

Here’s a tip: If you just want to enjoy the offerings of Soundworks, you can do so without sitting through the whole show. There’s an entrance to Soundworks right next to the Sounds Dangerous entrance.


Sounds Dangerous opened at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) on April 22, 1999, in the space that originally had been used for the Monster Sound Show (1989-1996).

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Drew Carey’s bespectacled face

Drew Carey’s career was in high gear when Sounds Dangerous was created and when it opened. The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004) on ABC television was at the peak of its popularity—even though it was halfway through its nine-season run. Season 4 of the series was in the 14th position in the A.C. Nielsen television ratings for the 1998-1999 television season.

In early 2009, almost 10 years after it opened, Sounds Dangerous became a seasonal attraction—open only during periods when park attendance was at its highest and extra guest capacity was desperately needed.

Guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the very busy week from Christmas to New Year’s Eve 2011 might have expected to find Sounds Dangerous operating. Instead, the theater was used for Comedy Warehouse shows that week, transplanted from the once-popular club at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure island.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

ABC Sound Studio in October 2012

The “seasonal” Sounds Dangerous attraction disappeared from park guidemaps in spring 2012. Numerous websites list the attraction’s closing date as May 18, 2012.

However, the attraction’s actual “last hurrah” appears to have been more than a year earlier—May 1, 2011—after operating during the installation of the new Star Tours (Star Tours – The Adventure Continues) and for the busy spring break period.

Sounds Dangerous at Disney-MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Where a Sounds Dangerous poster had been

The Sounds Dangerous facility now gets limited use. It’s the staging area for Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy, a show that trains around 15 young Padawans at a time to become junior Jedi Knights. The actual show takes place outside, adjacent to Star Tours.

Guidemaps for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the latter half of 2012 still identified the former Sounds Dangerous location as a park attraction: “ABC Sound Studio Operates seasonally. See TIMES GUIDE for information.”

Sounds Dangerous could even come back if Disney management determines that its capacity is needed. All indications are that everything is still in place. It should take little more than flipping all the switches to their “on” positions. Even the marquee with the attraction name is electrical.

If Disney management wants to replace Sounds Dangerous, the perfect replacement would be to bring back the original Monster Sound Show—complete with the Jimmy McDonald pre-show and audience volunteers doing sound effects for a film with Chevy Chase and Martin Short. It was a lot of fun, participatory, and never quite the same twice.

 

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Updated March 22, 2013.