With the news of the opening of the Universal theme park in Frisco, residents of the booming area are becoming increasingly concerned about traffic.
Universal Parks & Resorts worked with the City of Frisco’s transportation planning team to design a park that would have an entrance from the Dallas North Tollway, directing traffic to the north side of the property and away from the existing neighborhood.
Joel Fitts, Frisco’s traffic planning manager, said the City conducted a study that estimated the amount of traffic the park would generate. The data analyzed internal traffic as well as traffic in and out of the park, which will be built in phases.
“Our analysis was based on full development,” Fitts said.
About 7,500 visitors come to the park on a typical weekday, which equates to about 2,200 cars, Fitts said. Employees are expected to arrive with another 1,600 vehicles.
On a Saturday or public holiday, the park expects about 20,000 visitors, which is about 5,300 cars, a few buses plus about 2,140 staff cars.
“Because the park will open at 10 a.m. on weekdays, most of the traffic arriving at the park will not coincide with commuter peak hour, plus most of it will be in the opposite direction of commuter peak,” Fitts said. “Besides, all traffic in the park will not arrive and leave at the same time, as in an office building.”
According to a map on the City of Frisco website, traffic on the Dallas North Tollway is between 10,000 and 20,000 vehicles per day near the planned development site from Panther Creek Parkway south to Eldorado Parkway.
A short distance south of Eldorado Boulevard, the number of vehicles increases to 20,000–30,000 vehicles per day before dropping again to 10,000–20,000 vehicles, with the same scenario occurring south of Main Street.
With the exception of the DNT section between Cotton Gin Road and Stonebrook Parkway, where vehicle numbers drop to 5,000–10,000, traffic south of State Highway 121 is intermittent, with 10,000 to 30,000 vehicles per day.
The increase in traffic worries Philip Ray, a resident of Cobb Hill Estates, who said one of the parking lots would be so close to his home that he could “hit it with iron” rather than “wood.”
“When I first heard about the Fields development, I was told it would be mixed-use homes, big houses, parks and trails. Today we learn that it will be an amusement park with more than 6,000 parking spaces, 1,500 of which are only accessible through the entrance from my backyard,” Ray said on Wednesday.
The land on which the park will be built is currently designated for mixed-use development and was intended for apartment buildings, office buildings and shops.
City Hall meeting discusses Universal Studios’ impact on society, Wednesday, January 11, 2023. Residents listened to the theme park’s transportation plans.
“A Universal Studios theme park will generate less traffic on a typical weekday than a mixed-use development, especially during peak hours,” Fitts said.
Along with traffic information, officials shared information about other expected impacts during a public meeting Wednesday night at Trent High School.
The park, designed specifically for families with children ages 3 to 9, is about a quarter the size of other Universal parks and will cover about a third of the 97 acres.
From construction positions for the construction of the park to operations and management positions, there will be many jobs once the park opens.
John McReynolds, senior vice president of Universal Parks & Resorts, said the park will be designed with natural, lush landscaped barriers to minimize any potential visual and audio intrusion, with a mode of operation suitable for younger audiences.
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said housing costs are expected to rise as a result of park development as well as city revenues.
Brad Sharp, chairman of the Frisco Downtown Advisory Board, said the park would be a good place for a Frisco getaway, especially in the Fields development area.
“It brings a significant entertainment component to the game,” Sharpe said. “I love that it gives us more amenities on the northern edge of Frisco. Let’s hope that some of this traffic will be used in the city center as well.”