The highlight of our vacation on Sentosa last week was a one day trip to the Universal Studios Singapore theme park. This 2-year old theme park is latest addition to the 4 Universal Studio theme parks (the others are in Orlando, Hollywood and Osaka) and is located in Resorts World Sentosa.
From our hotel room balcony we could see part of the park and there was advertising for the it all over Resorts World Sentosa, so already the first night we decided to visit the park during the week. Because it would be too busy during the weekend we decided to go on Monday morning. However, when we arrived at the entrance of the park we saw huge lines at the ticket offices so Grace checked with a staff of the park. He told her that Monday was often a very busy day because most of the tour groups go on this day (they are not allowed in on the weekend). Then we saw that the park also had a VIP entrance without any people, so we checked what the definition of VIP was. Turned out that if you pay about USD 250 per person you get a personal guide who will arrange your whole visit for you (pictures with cast members, good seats at shows) and best of all, you would not have to wait in any of the lines.
With our Universal Studios guide in the theme park
Because I hate waiting in lines, especially with young kids, that was an easy choice. We talked to one of the theme park reps and bought tickets for the next day (the person convinced us that it would be a lot less busy on Tuesday and it would therefore be a more fun experience). That was a good choice, because the next day it was indeed a lot less busy (but still with lines of up to 1 hour for the rides). We had a nice guide showing us around, he had worked at the park since its opening and was very passionate about it. He immediately arranged a stroller for the kids because walking around for 6 hours or more in the tropical heat is hard on adults already and on kids even more so.
Universal Studios Singapore
We started off in the Madagscar part of Universal Studios, where we took the Crate Adventure ride (a boat ride through the ship that takes the Madagascar cast from the New York Zoo to Africa). I felt a bit embarrased that we could just move into the front of the line, but it was quite convenient. I guess this is only possible in Asia, do theme parks in the rest of the world also have this kind of arrangements if you extra? The kids liked the ride a lot and almost wanted to do it again until they saw the merry-go-round next to the Crate Adventure. That one also had the Madagascar animals in it and the kids had a great time riding them in the carroussel.
After that ride we went to the Donkey Live theater, where the donkey from the Shrek movie gave a performance. Again we did not have to wait and had reserved seats waiting for us in the middle of the theater (best seats in the house). Once again I felt a bit strange about it, but it certainly beats waiting in line outside for a long time and then scrambling for seats with hundreds of others. The donkey show was quite fun, with an animated donkey that could talk and joke with the audience. Having the best seat had the downside that I was asked to stand up and I became part of the show. The donkey of course made fun of me, which Scott and Elaine obviously liked a lot.
We did a few more attractions and then did a private photo shoot with the cast of Madagascar, right before their show started. Once again the kids were very happy, especially when they could watch the animals in their show a few minutes later aw well. After the show other visitors could take one picture with the cast (long lines formed for that), but we did not have to wait for but decided to go for lunch. We walked to the New York part of Universal Studios for a huge (20″) pizza and some other snacks, followed by a Sesame Street cast show. Because there was no opportunity to do pictures before the show we could take pictures right after it, again by being put in front of the line of other tourists…
Because we never had to wait we could do almost all rides in a day, normally that’s impossible. One highlight was Dino-Soarin’, that Scott took a couple of times with me (you can just ride it as often as you like because you don’t need to wait in line). It’s basically a merry go round in which you sit in a flying dinosaur that can ‘fly’ up if you press a button. Elaine did not dare to ride it, but Scott was screaming from excitement. He probably could have stayed in it the whole day if we had not told him to get out.
Our guide told us that the Canopy Flyer would be fun for the whole family. But this flying swing ride turned out to be quite scary, even for me. Elaine took it with Grace, who was afraid that Elaine would fall out, and I had the same scare when the ride started off much faster than I had imagined. I held on to Scott and told him to just close his eyes. That worked and he was a bit shaken but still okay after the ride ended. But Elaine was in a complete shock and was looking at me with big eyes without saying anything. It took 15 minutes before she had forgotten about the ride and started talking again. She did not want to do any new rides anymore afterward, and Scott followed her in that.
The scary Canopy Flyer
Because of that I did the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure on my own (the kids could watch me during the ride and even try to shoot me with a water pistol!), which was a pity. I also did Transformers The Ride, which I did not have high expectation of before I went in but which totally blew me away. This was by far the best ride in the whole team park for me! It’s a ride in which you wear 3D glasses and in which you are part of the Transformers movie. It’s a bit like a 3D flight simulator, and it’s probably the best attraction in all theme parks I have been to in my life. Grace and the kids were in the family room of the ride watching a Transformers movie with the guid, and I told Grace she should do the ride as well. But the kids were still so shaken by the Canopy Ride that they did not want their mummy to go away from them, so she missed out on this one.
Waterworld as seen from our room above the audience
We did a few more shows, among others the Monster World musical show in Hollywood (great musical, Broadway quality using recent pop songs) and the Shrek 4-D movie, and then went back to Dino-Soarin’ for Scott and to the merry-go-round for a few rides for Elaine and Scott. We ended the visit with the Waterworld show which was fantastic: the whole atol from the movie was rebuilt and actors in boats, jet skis and on water skis acted out an action scene. One word: Wow! We had a VIP room above the audience from which we had a great view over the whole set. The room was aircoditioned and we got cold drinks, which was very nice after a whole day in the Singapore heat (and as an added advantage we did not get wet!).
The visit to Universal Studios Singapore was totally worth it, and also the VIP tickets were a good choice. I still feel a bit bad for the other tourist when our guide put us to the front of the line without waiting, but it’s something I could get used to! The park itself is at least as good as Disneyland in Hong Kong, although our kids liked many of the Disney characters better than the Universal Studio ones. Recommended if you are in Singapore for a few days with the kids, just don’t take 3 and 4-year olds into the Canopy Flyer.