this post has been updated – 2011
On a blindingly, meltingly hot day a couple of weeks ago, J and I headed to Sentosa to Universal. I figured that by now, the veneer would’ve worn off, the crowds would’ve eased, and it would be accessible.
pictures are all ©Jay Budai. Please ask before using.
Anyway, I’m not going to ruin your fun of discovery by giving you a blow-by-blow of the park, because the process of discovery is really half the fun.
The park is made up of themed sections – Hollywood, New York, Sci Fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar. In each area, you’ll find rides corresponding to that theme, maybe some performances, and most definitely, retail outlets. Unmissable, all round the park, is the music playing – in The Lost World for example, you’ll hear the theme for Jurassic Park. I promise you you’ll leave with at least one movie score etched in your brain.
If you really don’t want the details but want to know ‘is it worth going to?’, then scroll down to ‘the groovini says’ …
Caveat: I am a Park Wuss. I am terrified of rides. I hate being strapped in, and I’m not a fan of g-forces. But, Game Face On! I needed to get out of my head, and this is a brilliant Jolt! I said I’d do it so I had to do it…
Ignore, if possible, the weird scripted narrative before you enter the cinema. (It’s not a ride per se) I think they should really use pre-recorded segments. Those scripts don’t work in Singlish. (though they try really really hard, bless them) And if I didn’t understand, what chance the tourists would? The show itself? Fun, funny, and OK for kids. How can Shrek fail to amuse?
This is a wee rollercoaster that I thought would be easy-peasy. It was short (the theme of the theme park) but it did manage to build up some speed and fling you around some tight turns (yes, I screamed) and throw the g-forces at you. Maybe I’m too old for a junior rollercoaster?
This is a stunt show based on the movie of the same name – involving jetskis, stuntmen/woman, boats, pyrotechnics, and water.
Honestly speaking? Meh. It’s a cool rest stop on a hot hot day, and the clowning around before the show starts is fun. Maybe we are desensitised to all this, what with HD, 3D, Avatar and all. It’s obviously hard work for the Aussie stunt guys so props to them.
Lights, Cameras, Action – Hosted by Steven Spielberg
I’ll let you into a secret – Steven Spielberg isn’t actually THERE. Sorry. Instead, he does a video intro to set up the scene.
This is not a ride, but an ‘experience’. You enter a ’soundstage’ where a category 5 hurricane is recreated. Big winds, crashing things, water special effects. Ignore the scripted intro before. The lady was really sweet but it felt like being at primbry school!
The Canopy Flyer
or, as one park guide called it, the kh-no-pee flyer.
This was fun and easy, but way too short. You’ll want to do it again. In this ride,if you’re wearing ‘unsecured footwear’, you’ll have to take them off and sit on them. Fair enough really, you don’t want to let loose your footwear on some unsuspecting person walking underneath as your dangling legs fly past them. (but sitting on birkies NOT comfortable) It’s pretty gentle, with a few kinks so you squeal (well I’m speaking for myself. You may not squeal). But way too short!
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure
CLOSED! ‘Technical difficulties’. That’s 2 big rides closed. Off-putting??
Revenge of The Mummy
The only ’scary’ ride open. It’s a ‘dark’ ride, not a trad coaster. There are special effects flung at you in the dark as you twist, turn, hurl at high speed. This is a RIDE! I confess, I had a bit of a meltdown when the bar came down and trapped me in the seat. Being claustrophobic, this trapped feeling can bring on a major anxiety attack. Lucky I had gentle J to soothe. Anyway, I figured the only way I was going to get through it was with my eyes closed. I missed all the effects! But the physical motions were pretty crazy. I screamed, and screamed, and screamed. And not little ‘eeks’. Deep, guttural, BIG screams. J said I only stopped to inhale then screamed again. It is superb therapy for clearing any trapped emotions! I slept so well that night.
Thrill seekers will like this. But yet again, the ride is SHORT. Maybe a minute? (but enough for a good scream)
THE ride of the park. The flagship ride. Duelling coasters. CLOSED. Rumour says for a while.
Update: This ride has reopened and apparently, lots of screaming fun! You wouldn’t catch me on it!
Other Fun Stuff
They wander around and you get photo opps. Their appearance times are scheduled, and they are only out for 10 minutes or so. The poor things, they must melt. There’s Frankenstein, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, among others.
There are performances throughout the park. Most are scheduled.
I so wanted to dance with the Madagascar animals but I just missed them : (
There are a few scattered around the park that are suitable for the littler ones. I did not try them, sorry! These are two that I did see.
The stuff I’ve highlighted is not all the park has to offer; there are other shows/performances/junior rides I haven’t covered, as well as tons of F&B outlets. And of course, retail opportunities everywhere.
the groovini says…
This is a mini-park, a distillation of the big US parks (Universal Studios Park in Orlando is AWESOME). Could become much better once it settles in, the crowds gather, and more ’stuff’ happens around the park. There wasn’t a lot of magic going on. The rides are short, and you can easily do the whole park in 4 hours. With 2 rides closed, $65 seems a bit much. But with the vouchers you get with your ticket (at least for May), it makes it a little easier to swallow.
It’s well-executed, and not at all shabby. Full marks for trying. (it’s definitely a lot better looking than the phenomenally-blah Resorts World)
I don’t get why it’s closed at night, when it would be so much kinder temperature-wise, and all sorts of firework/lightshows can happen.
Singapore staff just can’t do scripted performances or spontaneous expressions of fun, friendly bonhomie. It felt so weird. But they really were trying. Maybe something that needs to be fixed to create some buzz and spontaneous excitement about the place?
The mini-park experience and short rides are OK when there are no queues, but having to wait 20 minutes for a 1 minute ride might not be so fun, so go when there are fewer people.
Still a fun day, and totally worth it for the scream therapy, and it’s always great to do something completely different to how you normally spend the day.
Worth a visit.
- Go midweek, and in the morning. (Opening hours 10am to 6pm). It’s really quiet then. Makes the park atmos a bit flat, but you won’t have to queue for anything!
- If you’re driving, make a note of where you parked. The carpark is enormous.
- Wear comfy shoes (or sandals with straps, otherwise you’ll have to remove your flip-flops or Birkies and sit on them on some of the rides) and use sunblock, please!
- Don’t buy the Express ticket before you enter the park. Express tickets mean minimal queues; but you may not need it, like we didn’t. We took the advice of the ticket-girl and waited till we’d been inside (you can still buy them inside if you need to, $30 per head)
- Buy your tickets beforehand, online, then trade your print out for a ticket at the customer service booth by the park entrance
- Food and drink not crazy expensive – a bottle of water is $2 – plus you get a $10 off voucher with your ticket (May only)
- If you’re happy to get wet in the ‘wet’ performances, bring spare clothes
- Bring a smile. Lighten up, it’s a theme park! You’re supposed to be happy and laughing and game for anything!
2011 update: The new Madagascar ride is open, and great for families.
The Transformers attraction is the first of its kind in the world, and now open.
All this means the park is now much busier, and you’ll have to queue…