Universal Studios Singapore trip report

Universal Studios Singapore: What a theme park junkie does with a day on Sentosa (plus bonus Singapore tips)

From Kelly Louise
Posted March 3, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Hi everyone, welcome to my first post here on TPI. Hope you aren't too sick of hearing about USS from Robert's report!

Getting to USS is ridiculously easy. Singapore aint a big country, but if clean, quick and reliable public transport is your thing, then this is the place to be. You can catch the MRT (the subway/metro/train system) for a couple of dollars to Harbourside station. From there it is a 10 minute walk to Sentosa or you can catch the newly opened travellator along the same route for $1 Singapore dollar (about 70 Australian cents or 75 US cents)or the monorail for $3 SND. There is also an award winning cable car to get to Sentosa, but it lands on the other side of the island. There is plenty to do and see on Sentosa and the cable car has wonderful views of the city and harbour, but I'm assuming you folks want to get to the gates early-right?

Gates opened at 9.45am (15 minutes before the official opening time) and there was maybe 100 people waiting at that stage. Outside the park they were heavily advertising the relatively new Transformers ride. The enterance way is covered with clear plastic (it does rain alot) and on either side are the shops unthemed to any particular land as well as guest services and Celebrity Cafe and Bakery. More on those later because I was walking fast to Transformers.

Over the course of the day I ended up riding Tranformers three times. I was in the front row twice and the second row the last time. I would definatly recommend waiting to get in the front row, its a much more immersive experience. Theres been a bit of talk that Tranformers is too much like Spiderman- well, they are a bit similar. I mean, you're trying to save the world while the action occurs mostly on the 3D screen with some heat and water and movement thrown in. My vote for the better goes to Transformers. Im not sure if this is actually true, but the screens seemed bigger or closer, it just felt more "real".I also thought the graphics were of better quality, but I know Spidey is getting that fixed. Or maybe its because my fellow riders were much more into the story than their American counterparts- its fun to have people sream or cheer at the right moment. I didnt spend much time in it, but the line area seemed a little boring. It was well airconditioned and had water fountains along it, which was well appreciated.

Next up around Sci-fi City was Battlestar Galactica. I've never watched the TV show, so I think I lost some of the elements in the queue meant for fans. I rode the Cylon track 5 times and the Human 4. I thought both were solidly enjoyable. The Cylon track was especially thrilling the first time in the front row, but it still got the adrenaline pumping the last time in the last row. The Human track is much more tame, though with just a lap bar the first drop seems alot more daunting than with a shoulder harness! Both coasters offer wonderful views at the top (if you remember to look!) and will be open during the inevitable afternoon rainstorm. If you dont mind getting soaked (its Ok, Singapore is hot!) then get on and ride them then, its awesome and there will be no line. The seats might be a little tight for larger guests, but in Singapore larger people are alot scarcer than in America. Accelorator was the only ride I didnt try. Fast spinning rides are exempt from my "ride everything before leaving" rule, because that rule has a "dont vomit on yourself" caluse.

Moving around into Ancient Egypt. I think this was the best themed area. For such a small space there was alot of effort put into details and stauary, I was very impressed. It might be my faulty memory, but Revenge of the Mummy seems alot scarier here than in Florida. There isnt Brendan Fraser being adorable here and no happy ending either. Just remeber to smile for the camera after Imhotep promises to steal your soul. One nice touch I appreciated was the out of order signs on a couple of the lockers- those were "reserved for Imhotep". Treasure Hunters is a kids ride with jeeps on a track- its cute, but I dont think I was the intended age range. Would be good to keep the kids amused in the rain- the cars are covered.

The Lost World was up next. This was the area whose themeing lost the most from the smaller size of the park compared to Florida. Its really a scaled down version, but without as much jungle and being able to see all the other lands it feels more like the garden of someone who likes statues of T-Rexes. I was quite excited to ride the Canopy Flyer. Without a kid I could never talk my way onto Pterydon flyers so this was my chance! I was a very quick ride, but it had fantastic views of the park, harbour and parts of Singapore. I think it would also be good for kids scared of rollercoasters- it travels quite quickly and your feet are free so its a bit exciting going around the corners, but its doesnt have any fast drops. Dino-sauring is a Dumbo-esq ride. It was always a walk on the day I was there, without kids I wouldnt wait for it. Jurrasic Park Rapids Adventure was open when I went (hooray!). The rafts are more in the style of the Bilge River Rats barges and most of the ride continues in that vein. You might get a little damp as you meander over small rapids past the friendly dinos. Once (oh no!) the facility begins to flood the raft spins more and the rapids become rougher as you float past some not-so-friendly raptors. But Jurrasic Park wouldnt be the same without the ending. Instead of cresting a hill and then dropping you float into a flooded elevator which takes you to the top of the drop. While in the elevator you continue to slowly rotate so you never know if you will be facing the front (quite wet) or the back (soaked). The drop isnt as high, but you still get to go through the T-Rex legs. And you will get wet in every seat- the water comes through the middle of the raft as well as up the sides- there is no escape!

Confession- I've never seen Madagascar. A Crate Adventure has been much maligned, but I didnt mind it. It felt quite Small World-ish, except I didnt want to stab my ears with a screwdriver. Yes, there is no drop and it isnt a "scary" dark ride. But I'm betting kids who liked the movie would like it- and get the jokes I didnt!. King Julien's Beach Party Go Round was a standard carousel. My carousel joy comes from picking what animal to ride, but since I didnt know the characters it wasnt doing it for me.

Far Far Away is also excellently themed and really stays true to the Shrek tradition of jokes that are funny to kids and adults (in slightly different ways). The shops and resteraunts here also had a bit more whimsy. The higher walls also make it one of the places where you can look around and what you see is mostly in the theme of the land you are in. Shrek 4D adventure is very similar to the American version. Its fun and its nice to sit in the cool for a while. And if youve seen it before watch the faces of those around you for the spider scene. Donkey Live runs every half hour and was also a fun way to beat the heat. The Singaporian host for my performance was excellent and got some big laughs from the Singaporians and Malaysians in the audience. I liked how the show didnt try and be generic- it knew where most of its customers came from and catered to them, without making it too obscure for the rest of us. Enchanted Airways is the standard kiddie coaster. You might get some odd looks if your above 12 years old and ask to go on Magic Potion Spin, the ferris wheel in Fairy Godmothers Potion Shop- but do it anyway. The shop is adorable and its esier to see the "potions" from the top.

Finally to New York. Just one attraction here- Light, Camera, Action with Stephen Spielburg. This attraction had the worst cast member speiling I'd heard all day- but to be fair it was the last show of the day, so I'm going to cut her some slack. The actual show portion was like a better version of Twister (one of my biggest disappointments). You see a boathouse in New York get owned by a storm with the usual fire and rain and lightning until a tanker burtsts into the boathouse. The scene itself is fun, but my favourite part was watching everything magically "fix" itself for next time as you file out of the theatre.

Shows and Appearences
The Waterworld show was by far the highlight here- I saw it twice! Sit in the soak zone. Unless you are really careful your going to get wet at the park anyway and you dry off fast, plus there is more chance to interact with the preshow warm up. I think they were the best part of the show- really funny and interactive.

By comparison Monster Rock was a bit painful. I am a big fan of Beetlejuice in Orlando, but this fell way short. Lame jokes and costumes that look like they're from Halloween in a cheap brothel. Dont bother.

There are plenty of character meet and greets, I saw at least five just walking around the park and the lines were five minutes, tops. The Daddy-O's outside Mel's Diner were worth a listen and there is plenty of seating if you want a break.

I only had a chocolate shake in the park at Mel's Diner. It was delicious and good value at $3.20. The food, especially some of the meal deals in Madagascar and Ancient Egypt seemed good value- things like a drink, salad and curry or chicken rice for about $10. But good value only for theme park food- food in Singapore is amazing value. I recommend you hop out of the park for your eats. Less then a minute walk away from the enterance is a food court designed to look like a Maalaysia Hawkers Centre from the 1970's. Think of it as a different kind of theme park. I had two egg roti prata for $2 and pork belly noodles with egg and beansprouts for $3. Seriously good food for a low price- give it a go.

Overall I though USS was incredibly well done. They fit plenty of rides into a lot much smaller than Florida or California. Their attention to detail was wonderful and the park itself (much like the rest of Singapore)is incredibly clean and well maintained. They have alot of team members around the park and English is the official language of Singapore, so you'll never be lost. Yes, you can often see the other lands from where you are and it does affect how much you feel immersed in the land, but lets face it- you know your at a theme park, so sometimes you just got to use your magic eyes! I never waited more than 5 minutes for a single ride all day. the longest wait time I saw was 30 minutes for Jurrasic Park and Transformers, but all the popular rides have single rider lines. This was good because I think USS may have been let down by the quality of their lines- generally some posters or painting on the wall with one "feature"- Anubis statue, Allspark, Cylon plane etc.

Singapore is hot and sticky. In the summer temperatures hit about 35 degrees (thats 100 for you Yanks) and the humidity is best described as soupy. So hit the park up when it opens, rest in the middle and stay until closing at 7pm. Take the advice about hats and sunscreen and make sure you drink heaps of water- dont worry, the rest rooms are as clean as the rest of the park. Make use of the air conditioning in shops or shows.

My biggest tip of all- once your done, get out of the park and see Singapore! Getting anywhere is a breeze and Singapore has great free shows and events all year round. Go have some great food, relax at Marina bay, do some shopping, explore Chinatown and Little India. Its so easy to be a tourist in Singapore and you can see and do alot if you only have a couple of days. I really recommend it to any Aussies or people from Asia reading. For Americans and Europeans it's a long way to go for a day in a theme park, but if you have a stopover then why not make it a weekened stopover instead or make Singapore the gateway to the rest of Asia (or Australia!)

If you've gotten all the way to the end, well done :)

From Robert Niles
Posted March 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Great report, Kelly. Thanks for writing!

From Manny Barron
Posted March 3, 2012 at 4:37 PM
Nice trip report! Its always great to read trip reports on far off distant parks such as Universal Studios Singapore.

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:21 AM
Hi Kelly - thanks for this, really enjoyed reading. My hubby and I are giong to Thailand in November and thinking of stopping over in Singapore for Universal.

Can you definately get everything done in a day?

Is there an onsite hotel? What about a water park?

Been to Singapore before so not too worried about getting out and about...but would be nice to stay on Sentosa - what else is there to do on this island?


From Caroline Davis
Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:02 AM
Thanks for that. It was really interesting and just made me wish I was there right now! I'd love to go to Singpore.

From Robert Niles
Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:58 PM
You can find more information on Resorts World Sentosa (home of Universal Studios Singapore) at www.rwsentosa.com.

From James Rao
Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:25 PM
I agree with the other posters: great report, Kelly, thank you for sharing. If I ever get to go over seas, my first stop will be Tokyo Disneysea, but Universal Singapore is on the list for sure!

From Kelly Louise
Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:04 AM
Thanks for the welcome everyone!

@Lauren: Robert is spot on with the Sentosa website, you can book tickets and hotels and packages there as well as check out the action. You could easily do the whole park in a day, espeically if you went on a weekday. Theres several hotels onsite and they must have amazing views. There is also a water park on the other side of the island, and I think a smaller one onsite at one of the hotels. Theres alot of other entertainment on the island- mostly shows and theme parky kind of things (minus the theme). If you havent been and like history then I would recommend Siloso fort. It has a great WW2 history and you can easily fill a few hours for about $10.

From Tim Hillman
Posted March 8, 2012 at 7:55 AM
Excellent report, Kelly! Thank you for the information.

From Andy Milito
Posted March 9, 2012 at 5:47 PM
Thanks, Kelly! I hope to one day visit the Studios in Singapore!

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