The Great Singapore Blog: Universal Studios Singapore

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For the kids and the young at heart, a visit to Universal Studios is a must in Singapore. The theme park boasts world-class amusement rides, impressive architecture and countless hours of fun and excitement. For adrenaline junkies like us, there’s no way we would pass out on the thrilling rides (roller coasters beybeh)! This is an account of our whole day adventure of one of the world’s best theme parks.

The world famous globe (cue epic intro music)

Upon arriving at Sentosa at about 9:30am, we could already see a swarm of people buying tickets and taking their spots in the queues. Of course, majority of tourists took pictures with the world-famous Universal globe while waiting for the gates to open. Take note that in order to make the most out of your Universal Studios experience, make an effort to come early. The theme park opens at 10am and closes at 7pm or 9pm, depending on the schedule/occasion.

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore/VisitorInfo.

For ticket prices, click here: http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore/Tickets.

Tip: The regular ticket price for a one day weekend pass is at SGD72 per head. However, we found out weeks before our trip that Mastercard has an ongoing promo for all its credit card holders. What’s the promo you ask? A discounted ticket price of SGD60 per head plus a complimentary ticket to the newly opened Maritime Experiential Museum just outside USS. That’s over Php500.00 worth of savings made possible by a little painless research. Sweet!

As the gates finally opened, we rushed through the crowd of tourists to get a headstart with the rides. Do take a map of the theme park and strategize where to go to maximize time. Be careful to get the English version though. I took the Chinese version by mistake at first try. Woopsy.

Welcome balloons. LOL

The park is divided into seven (7) areas, each beautifully designed to conform with its corresponding movie theme. The seven areas are Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar. And you’re wondering why you need the whole day.

Hollywood

The first theme you’ll pass by is Hollywood. Complete with elaborate streets and a convincing replica of the famous Chinese Theater, Hollywood is a perfect place for taking your first snapshots inside the park. One must-try attraction in Hollywood, however, is Lights, Camera, Action hosted by the legendary film director, Steven Spielberg (not in the flesh, unfortunately).

Streets of Hollywood

The show is a simulation of Hollywood cinematic magic coming to life in front of live spectators. Since we were the first batch of tourists to flock inside the sound stage, the crowd was not very big which is convenient to say the least. Spielberg then begins to explain what will happen in the next few minutes, blah, blah, blah. Let’s start the show, shall we?

The setting: New York City has been hit with a major hurricane and is starting to rip the city apart. The damage escalates slowly but painfully as debris is being blown off by the raging wind. Even more convincing are the sparks flying out of the simulated broken electric transformers. It also gets fiery midway through the show so watch out for that.

All in all, a highly entertaining show and a perfect way to start our day at USS. Plus, it gave us a behind the scenes glimpse of that “Hollywood magic” we don’t often see.

Steven Spielberg via satellite (not really)

Lights, Camera, Action by Steven Spielberg
Crowd: Little to Moderate
Entertainment Value: 4 out of 5
Verdict: Must watch
Remarks: Flash photography not allowed

New York

Next up is New York. Seeing New York on TV or in the movies, the NY setting is pretty damn realistic. With its detailed architecture and replica of famous New York buildings, photos are a-flying in this area. Among the replicas you can find inside New York is the Rockefeller Center and the New York Public Library.

NY Public Library

Street dancers can also be seen showing off their slick moves outside the Palace. They also invite unsuspecting tourists to dance in front of a large crowd, perfect to closet dancers who want to be discovered. There are no rides inside New York though, so you can move along after you’re finished with your photo shoots. Sci-Fi City

Next stop, Sci-Fi City. Probably my favorite part of USS, this area houses the most thrilling rides inside the theme park. Transformers: The Ride? Check. Battlestar Galactica, Human and Cylon? Check. This is the true launching pad for thrill-seeking tourists. We first lined up for Transformers: The Ride, a 4D ride which simulates chase and fight scenes similar to what we saw on the Transformers movies. Since it was already 10:30am, there is already a crowd forming outside the queue. While queuing, you will see interesting decor inside. LCD monitors depicting Autobots complete with skills and attributes, a decapitated hand of an enemy Decepticon and even a relic of the All Sparks can be found. It’s a good way to distract visitors from the huge line. In fact, we waited for an excruciating 40 minutes before we finally had our turn. No pain, no gain as they say.

The All Sparks must not fall into the wrong hands

True enough, Transformers: The Ride delivered and it delivered big! To be honest, I didn’t expect the ride to be that much fun since the ride is not technically a “roller coaster”. However, the ride brought a whole lot of roller coaster emotions. Apparently, riding inside an Autobot while being chased by Decepticons and watching Optimus Prime kick Megatron’s ass up close and personal is an experience of epic proportions. The fast-paced and action-packed scenes of the ride were smartly crafted and stitched really well which produced one hell of a memorable experience. Whew!

Seriously, if it weren’t for the long queues, we would ride it over and over again.

Transformers: The Ride
Crowd: 
Heavy to Very Heavy
Entertainment Value: 4.5 out of 5
Verdict: Must ride
Remarks: Drinking fountains can be found while queuing

After that adrenaline-pumping ride, we decided to have lunch at Loui’s Pizza Parlor in new York. They have a wide selection of pizza and pasta. They also offer combo meals. Do note that food prices inside the theme park are priced higher than what you can find in hawkers or food courts.

Tip: Better order combo meals rather than order a la carte for extra savingsWe ordered two SGD14.80 combo meals which included a slice of pizza, iced tea and the dessert of the day. The pizza slice was huge and the tiramisu was also yummy. Not bad.

Loui’s Pizza Parlor

Now that’s how Pizza should be sliced

After stuffing ourselves full, we decided we were NOT YET ready for the coasters. We thought that we could kill some time if we go to Waterworld first, which is located inside Lost World. Waterworld is a live performance/show reenacting some scenes based on the 90s film “Waterworld”. We were a little late as the show had already started when we arrived. The Waterworld arena was very impressive. The rusty structures were very detailed, the water was popping with blue hues and the props used by the actors were realistic. You could definitely tell there was no budget shortage in setting up the arena. I haven’t watched Waterworld (the film) in its entirety, but I have seen some clips scanning HBO from time to time. The actors were pretty good in reenacting the scenes and the stunts were well-choreographed. Be careful not to sit very near the arena (or the “Wet Zone” as they call it) as there is a high probability you could get soaked wet. One more thing, I did not expect that “thing” to come out on the climax scene. Haha.

The arena

Waterworld
Crowd: 
Moderate to Heavy
Entertainment Value: 4 out of 5
Verdict: Must watch
Remarks: Stay out of the wet zone

After spending some time watching Waterworld, we finally braved up and went straight to the big boys of Sci-Fi City. With its towering structure, Battlestar Galactica is actually a dueling roller coaster ride composed of two rides: Human and Cylon. The difference between the two coasters is that the Human is a traditional sit-down coaster while Cylon is a suspender-type which means your feet will be dangling on air as the ride goes on.

ERMAHGERD!

Before queuing, we headed first to the locker section to leave our valuables. Note that you can’t bring any loose objects upon entering the ride. You wouldn’t want Final Destination to be a true-to-life story, don’t you? You can keep your belongings inside the lockers free of charge for the first 45 minutes.

Human and Cylon: Duel Monsters

Human was the first one we rode. There was a bit of a crowd lining up so we ended up waiting about 20 minutes. As for the ride itself, the coasters were pretty F’n fast. Although it doesn’t have loops, the fast acceleration of the ride makes for a very thrilling roller coaster ride. Judging that the next best thing comparable to the Human coaster here in the Philippines is the Space Shuttle ride found in Enchanted Kingdom, I’d say Space Shuttle doesn’t even bring 30% of the excitement that Human brings to the table.

Battlestar Galactica: Human
Crowd: 
Moderate to Heavy
Entertainment Value: 4 out of 5
Verdict: Must ride
Remarks: Loose objects now allowed. Free lockers provided.

After Human, we changed lockers since we thought our 45-minute free usage was already up. We then headed to its blue brother, Cylon. We were quite lucky since there were only few riders on Cylon that time. We were able to ride the coaster in just under 10 minutes of waiting. I was particularly nervous in riding the Cylon since this is the first time I’ll be riding an inverted, suspended coaster. But boy, oh boy, Cylon really rocks! The ride was more thrilling and edgier than Human with all the vertical loops, corkscrews and sharp turns. I never thought dangling feet would bring much more excitement compared to traditional roller coaster rides. Easily my favorite ride inside Universal Studios.

Battlestar Galactica: Cylon
Crowd: 
Moderate
Entertainment Value: 5 out of 5
Verdict: Must ride (personal favorite)
Remarks: Loose objects not allowed. Free lockers provided.

Ancient Egypt

Right next to Sci-fi City is Ancient Egypt which is obviously inspired by the Mummy film franchise. I couldn’t emphasize more about how highly detailed the statues inside Ancient Egypt. Again, this is photography heaven for all camera lovers out there. My personal favorites are the Anubis statues outside Revenge of the Mummy as well as the half-bodied Anubis near the entrance of Ancient Egypt. There was a slight mishap when Kaye’s Olympus camera stopped working due to a lens error. This left us no choice but to have my Galaxy Note as our main camera. Maybe the Egyptian curse was true all along?

After realizing we could no longer fix the Olympus cam’s lens, we decided to queue for the Revenge of the Mummy. But first, we had to leave our belongings to the locker area. You still get to enjoy the free 45-minute use of the lockers.

Awesome statues!

Revenge of the Mummy has earned a notorious reputation as one of the scariest, if not THE scariest ride inside Universal Studios. Naturally, our expectations were quite high. And because this is a very famous ride, the large crowd of tourists lining up was pretty much expected. After about 30 minutes of waiting time, it was finally our turn. Revenge of the Mummy is actually an enclosed roller coaster. It’s like Transformers in that you are completely riding indoors added with a twist of Human in that it is a roller coaster.

One thing that separates Revenge of the Mummy from other coasters though is that it follows a storyline about King Imhotep. Also, the ride has reverse motion which I think makes this ride scarier than others. What I liked the most was the part wherein you enter a chamber full of gold being engulfed in flames (and of course the part where Imhotep swallows the passengers into oblivion). Nice cinematic touch. As for the verdict: yes, it was thrilling; yes, it was scary; and yes, it was highly enjoyable. But I wouldn’t go out on a record and declare that this was the most thrilling ride inside USS. That honor goes to Cylon. To each his own, I guess.

Revenge of the Mummy
Crowd: 
Heavy to Very Heavy
Entertainment Value: 4 out of 5
Verdict: Must ride
Remarks: Loose objects not allowed. Free lockers provided.

The Lost World

After the visual treat that is Ancient Egypt, we moved on to The Lost World. The Lost World is heavily based on Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park franchise and is home to the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. This ride is similar to Rio Grande Rapids in Enchanted Kingdom which means you are expected to get wet. Naturally, we bought ponchos for SGD2 each IIRC to secure our dry selves. We again left our bags in the locker area for a fee of SGD3 for the first hour.

Damn you dinosaurs!

The queue leading to Rapids Adventure was very long since this ride was more kid-friendly compared to the roller coaster rides. However, bad luck struck once again. After 45 minutes of queuing and literally within a few inches from the next riders, the ride encountered a technical problem which prompted park officials to close the ride. My heart sank. All of that long waiting for nothing. And we had to buy ponchos and spend a locker fee for, guess what? Nothing! Oh well.

Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure
Crowd: 
Very Heavy
Entertainment Value: n/a (pissed)
Verdict: n/a (better luck next time)
Remarks: Expect to get wet. $2 for ponchos. $3/hr on lockers

Far Far Away

Not sure if Universal Studios or Disneyland

After that monumental disappointment that was Jurassic Park, we went on to Far Far Away to minimize the pain. True enough, with its fun atmosphere and grandiose surroundings, our mood change was almost instant. Inside the beautiful Far Far Away Castle is the Shrek 4D adventure ride. It’s a 15-minute 4D show with Shrek engaging in bumpy chase scenes in a quest to save Princess Fiona, complete with water and wind effects. It was fun and comedic as to be expected with Shrek and Donkey’s antics. A feel-good ride couldn’t be more fitting after our heartbreaking mishap at Lost World.

Camwhoring

Shrek 4D Adventure
Crowd: 
Moderate
Entertainment Value: 4 out of 5
Verdict: Must ride
Remarks: Vibrating seats are limited up to the middle portion of the theater

Madagascar

Right next to Far Far Away is Madagascar which is of course themed after the movie. Both Far Far Away and Madagascar have a continuing trend of being more kid-friendly as the atmosphere is very lively and the rides are very suitable to young children.

We rode Madagascar: A Crate Adventure. It’s basically a boat ride while mechanical mascots of the Madagascar cast can be seen acting goofy and stuff. Honestly, I wasn’t very entertained by the ride (Kaye was actually quite entertained) and I fully understand that. This ride is targeted for the kids and surely, they’ll have a blast watching Alex the lion do his antics or seeing the penguins and their mischievous deeds. As for adults, this could be a hit or miss ride. If you have spare time, you can try this but if you’re in a hurry or not very fond of cartoony stuff, you can happily skip this ride.

Crate Adventure

Madagascar: A Crate Adventure
Crowd: Moderate
Entertainment Value: 3 out of 5
Verdict: Fun for the kids, not so for adults
Remarks: Slight chance of getting wet

Inside Madagascar, there is a group statue of the Madagascar cast. Professional photographers can help you take your pictures with your camera. You can also buy the printed pictures from them. Another ride inside is King Julien’s Party Go Round. We didn’t bother riding it since it’s just a glorified carousel. Although this can be perfect for those who are afraid of roller coasters and the like. At least they can ride something, right?

Photo op

After Madagascar, we found ourselves wandering back in Hollywood. Since it was still early for dinner, it was the perfect timing for the musical live show Monster Rock. Living up to its name, Monster Rock is a live rock musical with song and dance performances from our favorite creatures of the night: Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula and the rest of the gang. The theater was almost full when we entered.

Monsterrific performances

All in all, the show was very fun and the performances were very good. It has a mix of satire and comedy enhanced with world-class song and dance production numbers. I was also impressed with the strobe lighting effects and the fireworks display on stage which provided a visual treat for the audience. I wasn’t able to take pictures during the show because aside from the “no flash photography rule“, I was busy enjoying myself with their performances. Good job, monsters.

Monster Rock
Crowd: Moderate to Heavy
Entertainment Value: 4 out of 5
Verdict: Must watch
Remarks: Flash photography not allowed

After 30 minutes of audio-visual goodness, it was still very bright outside. There are a couple of live shows playing outside Hollywood and New York. Back at Hollywood are these boy band wannabes while at New York were the bunch of street dancers I talked about earlier. Lucky (or unlucky) tourists were picked from the audience and reluctantly strut their moves in front of the large crowd. We noticed that maybe two or three of the street dancers were Filipinos. Members of the Streetboys, maybe?

The sun was slowly setting down but we were not yet feeling very hungry so we decided to do souvenir shopping at the Universal Studios Store. Here, you can find a plethora of souvenirs waiting to be purchased by your hard-earned money. While there are souvenir shops lying around each themed area, the USS Store houses almost all souvenir items so this is kind of a one-stop shop for all USS goodies. Do note that items inside the store carry rather hefty price tags so better prepare your credit card if you’re easily tempted.

The grand (and pricey) souvenir shop

With the array of items displayed, you really need a serious dose of resistance if you want to leave the theme park with money still with you. As souvenir, I just bought myself a nice pen and a T-shirt with a huge Universal Studios print (for boasting purposes, obviously).

Goodies

Tempting goodies

With our tummies already feeling empty, we headed to Mel’s Drive In to have dinner. Mel’s is like a retro diner you can see in the movies. There’s even a working jukebox inside. Good thing they also offer combo meals. Prices are slightly cheaper than in Loui’s but still expensive compared to hawker food.

Mels

We ordered their chicken and beef burgers with fries. The food was above average but nothing special. The Bongo Burgers at Night Safari had better tasting burgers, IMO. But, it got the job done of stuffing ourselves full so no complaining here. The Hollywood Parade of Dreams commenced in the middle of our meal so we weren’t able to watch it.

After dinner, we decided that we would wait for the fireworks show by 9:30pm. Since the park rides were closing at 7pm, we went to The Maritime Experiential Museum just outside the theme park to kill some time before coming back to watch the fireworks. This newly-opened museum houses historical accounts regarding the maritime adventures especially focusing on Asian pirates (sorry, no Jack Sparrow). We wandered around for a few minutes and took some pictures.

Free entrance tickets courtesy of MasterCard

Posing with statue

Back at USS, there are still guests very busy dining and drinking as there is a Hollywood After Party going on after the theme park closing hours. By 9pm, people are starting to find their spots for a perfect view of the fireworks show.

Hollywood After Party

The wonderful fireworks exhibition lasted for around 15 minutes. I wasn’t able to take pictures or shoot a video because I was busy enjoying the show. Indeed, a perfect ending to a perfect day filled with thrilling rides and hours of fun. This is an adventure I will not forget in many years to come. -rod-

***Almost 3/4 of the shots were taken using my Samsung Galaxy Note.***

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14 comments

  1. Your USS photos are amazing! I am not a huge fan of theme parks neither am I an adrenaline junkie. In fact just the thought of being on those theme-park rides already scares the shit out of me. But reading this post has somehow convinced me that maybe I need to conquer my fear and give these theme parks a shot. I might just add this to my bucket list.

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  2. There were technical problems in Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure? I experienced that too! We were queueing when the people-in-charge announced that there were technical problems, and so, the ride was suspended for some minutes. When it was finally back on and it was announced, we all cheered. But that didn’t last long. We were held in the queue again when the technical problems were once again announced. We all cheered again when the ride was announced to be fine. That went for 2-3 times before we got our turn. It was pretty fun, I thought it was a kid-friendly ride, and I enjoyed it. But then, the climax was when we entered an area with problematic electricity and then a T-Rex was watching us from outside. I didn’t expect this ride to be pretty scary, as well.

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    1. Glad you made through the ride despite the technical problems. As far as our experience went, the staff were pretty much sure that the technical problem wasn’t going to be fixed in a matter of minutes so we just had to leave. Sad times.

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