Universal Studios Singapore
“Size doesn’t matter”
Welcome to Singapore, an ultra-modern city state on the southernmost point of continental Asia. Singapore is characterized by stunning architecture, a vibrant nightlife, a delicious national cocktail and super hot temperatures. I’ve loved this sweaty city of the future since my first visit and I try to return regularly. One of Singapore’s tourist hot spots is Sentosa, a tropical island south of the city. Sentosa offers super expensive resort hotels, beaches, cocktail bars, cable cars, golf courses and even a monorail.
Another must do at Sentosa is Universal Studios Singapore. To get to the park, just take Singapore’s amazing MRT network to a station called HarbourFront. From there, you can continue by monorail or cable car to access Sentosa. Those who are able to handle the heat, may also walk to Universal Studios. The walk between HarbourFront Station and the park’s entrance takes approximately 25 minutes and shade is provided.
Universal Studios Singapore has more credits than any other Universal theme park on Earth. The park’s signature coaster can be found at Sci-Fi City, some kind of Universal-style Tomorrowland. I’m talking about Battlestar Galactica, a Vekoma duelling roller coaster. This legendary coaster’s early years were rough: the ride experienced major technical difficulties and the park even decided to close Battlestar Galactica for two full years. Fortunately, things are going considerably smoother since its reopening in 2015.
Unlike most duelling coasters, Battlestar Galactica offers two totally different ride experiences. It consists of a family-friendly red track (sit down) and a grey inverted coaster for thrill seekers. The red Human track turns out to be somewhat underwhelming. The layout feels rather pointless and it’s rougher than I remembered from my previous rides. The grey Cylon track, however, is awesome. The layout is surprising, it’s got some very good pacing and the ride is smoother than its red neighbour. Unfortunately, Universal doesn’t really seem to care about the duelling effect. I’ve visited the park multiple times, but I was never able to experience the ride as it’s meant to be.
Universal Studios Singapore is one of the smallest theme parks I know. That’s clearly noticeable in the transitions between different lands. From Battlestar Galactica, it takes approximately 30 seconds to reach the next coaster. We’re entering the Egyptian park section and the main draw is Revenge of the Mummy. This Premier launched coaster is nearly identical to its Florida counterpart: it includes the same treasure chamber, a short backwards part, a powerful launch and some very cheap-looking cardboard theming elements. However, I like this Asian version better because of its magnificent exterior and the nicer queue line.
Universal Studios Singapore offers a total of 3 inverted roller coasters. Do Asian people have some kind of fetish for inverted coasters? I don’t know, but the Canopy Flyer is clearly not as breathtaking as Battlestar Galactica’s Cylon. There’s some good news for credit hunters, though. In contrast to Pteranodon Flyers at Islands of Adventure, you’re perfectly able to ride the Canopy Flyer without bringing a child.
Puss in Boots’ Giant Journey is the park’s third and last inverted coaster. The ride was added in 2015 and unfortunately, it doesn’t meet Universal’s high quality standards. Theming looks quite artificial and they didn’t manage to hide the ride’s ugly hardware. Thanks to Puss in Boots, we have arrived at Far Far Away. This area was inspired by DreamWorks’ blockbuster Shrek and it looks fantastic. Far Far Away is full of hilarious details and the attractions have quite some humour as well. One of these rides is Enchanted Airways, a Vekoma Junior Coaster that’s themed as a medieval airline. Airplanes have been exchanged for dragons (the D380 is obviously the largest model), while Pinocchio and the wolf fulfill their roles as ground staff. I never thought I’d say this, but this standard Junior Coaster is actually a must do because of its original decoration.
Jurassic Park is a classic part of nearly every Universal theme park. The versions in Hollywood, Orlando and Osaka all feature a huge shoot-the-chute water ride. In Singapore, however, designers came up with a new idea: a rapid river. The ride is beautiful to look at, but I regret the fact that they didn’t choose Intamin. Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure is manufactured by Hafema, a German company which is mainly known for its tame, rather unremarkable rapid rivers. Just imagine a rafting ride like Intamin’s Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges with Jurassic Park theming. That would create a considerably more spectacular result, if you ask me.
Despite its tiny size, Universal Studios Singapore has a lot to offer. This includes two dark rides of various dimensions. The largest one can be found at Sci-Fi City. Transformers – The Ride remains one of Universal’s most immersive dark rides. The atmosphere is very dark, but that doesn’t seem to scare off visitors. Despite a super-high capacity, you’ll often find decent queues for this ride. If you don’t mind splitting up your party, the single rider line may significantly reduce your wait, though. We always managed to ride within 10 minutes or less, even if the regular queue was estimated at 75 minutes.
Transformers takes place in a dark and hostile environment, but the park’s other dark ride has a more cheerful atmosphere. I’m talking about Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase in the New York section. I’d describe it as Universal’s answer to Peter Pan’s Flight at the Disney theme parks. This suspended dark ride takes us on a journey to space hosted by Elmo. It’s full of clever lighting effects and cute audio-animatronics. You might think that a Sesame Street-themed attraction is childish, but that’s not the case. On the contrary: I liked Spaghetti Space Chase a lot and it’s actually one of the best medium-sized family dark rides on Earth.
There is a lot to do at Universal Studios Singapore. The main rides have been mentioned above, but the park also has some smaller attractions. The assortment includes Lights Camera Action (a behind-the-scenes look at a special-effects stage), Treasure Hunters (a gorgeous old-timer ride), Dino-Soarin’ (a stunnin flat ride) Shrek 4D and an interactive experience starring Donkey. We also gave the WaterWorld stunt show a chance, but we left disappointed. The story line is difficult to understand and one of the show’s most spectacular features (the plane) has been removed. The result is a very chaotic performance that doesn’t meet the park’s high quality level.
WORTH A VISIT?
I’ve loved this park since my first visit in 2013 and it’s still one of my favourites. I always considered it as a small-scale version of Islands of Adventure. It has world-class attractions, theming is superb and the park offers a good atmosphere. You shouldn’t come here if you’re interested in film studios, though. Despite its name, Universal Studios Singapore doesn’t feel like a studio-themed park. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. Those studio theme parks always feel rather passive since most of their rides are hidden in large studio buildings. I love to watch the dynamics of a real theme park with outdoor roller coasters and water rides. And honestly… Universal Studios Singapore delivers exactly what I’m looking for. So yes, this park is definitely worth a visit.
NEW YORK CITY
THE LOST WORLD
FAR FAR AWAY
Do you consider Universal Studios Singapore as a full-day destination, despite its small size? Should the Wizarding World be the next big expansion? And is there anyone who actually likes the WaterWorld show? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.