Redesign your life. Travel the world.
If you are looking for a world class entertainment full of adrenaline-pumping rides and experiences for all ages, Universal Studios Singapore is the place to visit. Open to public in March of 2011, it is the first Hollywood movie theme park in Southeast Asia. It occupies the easternmost part of the 49-hectare (120-acre) Resorts World on Sentosa Island. The park consists of seven themed zones: Hollywood, New York City, Sci-Fi City, The Lost World, Ancient Egypt, Madagascar, and Far Far Away.
Each zone is based on a blockbuster movie or a television show, featuring their own unique attractions, look-a-like character appearances, dining and shopping areas. There are no real sets to explore though, but there is the Water World show which displays stunt stars in action and the stage with special effects where you can experience the extremely realistic sound and visual effects of a devastating hurricane in New York City.
Let me give you here a quick tour of USS’s theme park attractions.
Like everybody else… I just had to do a good pose with the famous “Universal Studios” globe before going inside USS
Let us begin with the walk down Hollywood Boulevard. This is the first zone that you’ll see as you enter the theme park. I really love the bustling and glamorous venues lining up along this section. Being a replica of the Hollywood Boulevard, this zone is flanked by dynamic architecture, slender palm trees and the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Here, you’ll be able to see the Despicable Me minions, Woody Woodpecker, a number of Hollywood personalities and more!
The Pantages Hollywood Theatre is a 1500-seat indoor theatre fully equipped to host major Broadway musicals with cutting-edge cinematic technology. We went to see the Monster Rock Show – a 15 minute mega-monster spooktacular featuring vocalists inspired by famous monster characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy. These monsters are brought to life by Dr. Jekyll, a computer whiz who is also a fan of rock ‘n roll. He leads the group through rock and pop themed songs. The music, dancing, comedy, special effects and pyrotechnics are enough to wake up the dead. There are only a couple of shows a day, so check out the show timetable in the map and queue up at least 15 mins before the show starts to get the seats.
NEW YORK CITY ZONE
New York zone is set to the post-modern era of the 1940’s. It is complete with the replica of the New York Public Library, the famous New York subway, impressive neon street lights, and other meticulously reconstructed imitations of famous landmarks and structures. New York zone looks amazingly picturesque from any angle and at any time of the day, but dusk is my favorite time for taking City pics.
The main attraction here is the “Lights! Camera! Action!”. From the main queue line, we were directed to one of three smaller lines which lead to three separate rows in the pre-show room. I was standing right in front where the barricade separated us from the pool of water. The lights have been dimmed and Steven Spielberg himself appearing on a screen which I didn’t even noticed before. He gave a brief introduction to the use of sound stage and special effects in movies, with examples from popular films produced at the Universal Studios over the recent years. After the introduction, we were briefed about the studio scene we were about to see. At first I thought we’re going to watch a movie about it, or something. It turned out however, that we were actually on the mock-up movie set of a Hollywood film production. The stage was set for experiencing the scene from within a boathouse anchored at the harbor while a category 5 hurricane hits New York City. Yay!
We’ve heard the command “Camera roll, Action!” and the sky above the background projection of the NYC skyline darkened. Soon afterwards, the entire hell broke loose; Roaring thunder and lightning filled the air… Heavy rain began pouring through the ceiling… Strong wind howled like a freight train… Fire broke out on the boat… Signboards crashed through the roof… The boat’s windows got blown away… The platform below our feet shook and tilted, and finally… A huge cargo ship slammed and crashed right through the boathouse wall. I even shouted in shock when the platform jerked suddenly downward. It felt so real and terrifying even though I knew it wasn’t for real. I must say it was amazing to experience firsthand how all those dramatic effects are created. Still rattled with the experience, we exited from the sound stage and emerge back onto the streets of New York City again… For a moment, I even forgot that I wasn’t really there.
While strolling, we caught sight of a street performance of Marilyn Monroe look-a-like. No one could keep their eyes off her, and I must say she did a total justice to the legendary Hollywood icon.
After the performance, we continued to walk along the Boulevard until Oscar from Sesame Street welcomed us to a Sesame street ride. It was an adventure ride with the task of saving the spaghetti and meatball from outer space invasion. We bravely fought with laser swords defending Oscar and his friends and on successful completion we were gifted with tiny memoirs of Oscar and Elmo.
Street dancers can also be seen showing off their slick moves outside the Palace. They often invite and entice unsuspecting tourists to dance in front of a large crowd – a perfect opportunity for ‘closet dancers’ who dream of being discovered.
SCI-FI CITY ZONE
Sci-Fi City zone is an imagined Metropolis of the future that contains many modern conveniences of life, but with little or no remnants of past inhabitants that were able to withstand the course of time. This is my favorite part of USS, this zone houses the most thrilling rides inside the theme park. Like the world’s tallest pair of dueling roller coasters, at a height of 42.7 metres (140 ft). The Human vs. Cylon, which is based on the hit television series, Battlestar Galactica and of course the famous Transformers: The Ride.
Battlestar Galactica is actually a dueling roller coaster ride composed of two rides: Human and Cylon. The difference between the two is that the Human ride is a traditional sit-down coaster, although it doesn’t have loops, the fast acceleration of the ride makes for a very thrilling roller coaster ride. While Cylon ride is a suspender-type ride which means your feet will be dangling in mid-air during the ride. Scary? You bet, hehe. I was particularly nervous riding the Cylon since this has been the first time I was riding a rollercoaster with just air under my feet. The ride took us almost 14 storeys up and then, down we went through all the loops turns and twists. I was screaming more from fear than joy the whole time and even swore like nobody’s business, at the most dramatic moments… Woohooo… It was amazing. I never thought that dangling feet would bring so much more excitement compared to the traditional roller coaster rides where your feet are braced securely and safely against the solid floor of your cart.
Transformers: The Ride delivered, and it delivered Big Time! 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. I can personally confirm now that 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 a memorable experience. Whew! Seriously, if it weren’t for the long queues, we would ride it over and over again.
By the way, I played the role of a “Private” following orders from Optimus Prime and my mission … to save mankind from the invasion of Dinobots hehe, how cool is that?
ANCIENT EGYPT ZONE
I’ve never been to Egypt before – the real country or any simulated impression of it – but this Zone has so many amazing and imposing artifacts that I almost felt I was in the real Egypt. Scores of giant statues, Pharaohs’ tombs, Sphinx, obelisks and pyramids look so amazing and authentic that remaining unimpressed is not an option here. The Zone is such a memorable simulation of the Golden Age of the ancient Egyptian Culture that it should never be missed by anyone visiting USS. If you have seen the movie “Mummy” with Brendan Frazer, it is pretty much like it.
Good I saw the movie and even had a passing crash on Brendan Frazer, otherwise what happened next would probably not even register. And what happened next, was that suddenly and unexpectedly, Brendan Fraser lookalike walked towards me with impish grin on his face and open-arms welcoming gesture as if he knew me well. Awww!!!! I felt like I am in my 20’s again, with Brendan next to me and my cheeks blushing haha.
Revenge of the Mummy has earned a notorious reputation as one of the scariest, if not the scariest ride inside Universal Studios. Naturally, my expectations were quite high. And because this is a very famous ride, the large crowd lining up was pretty much expected. Revenge of the Mummy is actually an enclosed roller coaster ride. The feeling was like riding the Transformers added with a twist of 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, a lot of twisting and spinning 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. I mean really, this is ‘a must’ ride if you happen to visit USS.
THE LOST WORLD ZONE
The Lost World contains many traditional attractions present in most Universal Studios parks around the world and is divided into two sub areas: Jurassic Park and Waterworld.
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure is based on the popular film franchise by Steven Spielberg and novels by Michael Crichton. The tube ride started slow through the Jurassic jungle, then accelerates towards the end of the ride. Meet T-Rex, experience a quick drop and get soaked at the end, just like I did. Yes, I was totally wet. The guy sitting next to me was wearing a rain coat, which I thought was ridiculous, but in the end I became jealous of his foresight and resulting comfort of being completely dry. Oh, well, they provide the drying pods anyway, but it cost $5. Pricey, I know.
Waterworld is a live performance/show reenacting some scenes based on the 90s film “Waterworld”. 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. The actors were pretty good in all the scenes and the stunts were impressive and well-choreographed. The movie might never have appealed to me as much as the live enactment. Fabulous! Be careful not to sit very near the arena – the “Wet Zone” as they call it, as there is a high probability you could get soaked wet.
FAR FAR AWAY ZONE
Far Far Away zone is inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s hit Shrek franchise which depicted how the fairy-tale characters lived in daily life. The zone consists of many recognizable locations from the film series, and the main highlight is the 40-meter high Far Far Away Castle where Shrek and Fiona were waiting to welcome us.
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 jumps, bumps, bounces, air blasts and water spray that bring the action to life for each guest- with an extra dimension of special effects through the miracle of Ogre Vision glasses. At one point, I almost jumped out of my seat when a spider came crawling… Well not a real one… It was 4-D after all! We sang along with Donkey and had a frolicking time. It was fun and comedic as to be expected with Shrek and Donkey’s antics. A feel-good ride, but entertaining nonetheless.
Madagascar is a Zone inspired by the hit DreamWorks Animation franchise of the same name which features four zoo animals, Alex, Gloria, Marty and Melman escaping from the Central Park Zoo and unfortunately crashing onto the island of Madagascar. The zone features lush tropical jungles as well as two rides. 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. 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, not so much. 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. This can be perfect for those who are afraid of roller coasters and the like. At least they can ride something, right?
It’s Chow Time! Now, the question is — where to eat inside the theme park. I have to admit that I still find the snacks and meals here quite disappointing and for visitors, I would still recommend that you check out the restaurants outside the park. However, for those who just wants to munch something in between the rides, there are a lot of food carts available. I just love how each is designed to match the zone. The choices are similar all over the theme park though. You can have corn dogs, noodle dog (not so yummy and very messy!), nachos with cheese, ice cream, soda and in certain kiosks.
There are also a number of classic food outlets in USS as well such as KT’s Grill, Loui’s NY Pizza Parlor and Mel’s Drive-In. I have to say I wasn’t too impressed with the food options inside. Decided to just have a sumptuous dinner outside
So….That’s a wrap up of my Universal Studios Singapore journey, from rib tickling adventures to spine chilling rides. The day etched itself in my memory forever. Thank you Universal Studios for the lovely day and for entertaining the kid within me.
Hope you all had fun reading J
- For ticket prices, click here
- For the complete schedule, clickhere
- For directions on how to get to Universal Studios Singapore, please refer to Resorts World’s “How to Get Here” map.
- Book your tickets in advance. The ticketing booth has a separate queue so getting your tickets online saves you a lot of time… and money, because there are online promos and you can get discounted tickets by booking at the Resorts World Sentosa website.
- Go early. I knew the park was opening at 9:30am so we were there by 9:15am. We were in as soon as they opened.
- Bring bottled water, one is enough for there are a lot of refilling stations around USS.
- Wear cool clothes because it gets really hot especially around noon.
- Don’t forget to apply sunblock! You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors walking from one area to another.
- Check the park map for schedules of character meet and greets so you can have your photos taken with them.