Monday, March 22, 2010

New Kid In Town: Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore (USS) opens on 18 Mar 10.

This is the first in South East Asia and second in Asia
(after Japan). To begin with, there are not that many in the world. Besides Singapore and Japan, the other Universal Studios Theme Parks are in Hollywood and Orlando (Florida).

Universal Pictures was founded in 1912 and it has one of the oldest and most famous movie studios in Hollywood. Back in the early years of silent movies, tours were conducted within the studios where filming was underway. The tour-around gradually grew into a theme-park -
Universal Studios Hollywood.

In 1990, the second theme park, Universal Orlando Resort was opened in Florida. In 2001, the first outside USA, Universal Studios Japan was opened in Osaka, Japan.

The lastest theme park in Singapore is located within Resorts World Sentosa on the Sentosa Island. There are altogether seven themed zones with more than 20 attractions. Many of these attractions are original to USS. Key attractions include the worlds tallest (42m) dueling roller coaster based on TV show Battlestar Galactica and Transformers attraction (will premiere later in 2011).

Many of the attractions in the seven themed zones are premieres (new or specially designed for USS). See the theme park map to for a visual guide:

1. Hollywood

2. New York
  • Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg (Premiere) - Movie production special effects.
  • Stage 28 (Premiere) - Behind the scene film productions and props.

USS - Battlestar Galactica

3. Sci-Fi City
  • Battlestar Galactica: CYLON (Premiere) - This blue-track roller-coaster rides on a suspended track where cars hang from the bottom of the wheel.
  • Battlestar Galactica: HUMAN (Premiere) - This red-track roller-coaster, on a sit down track, promises more G-force.
  • Transformers (Premiere) - Opening in 2011
  • Accelerator (Premiere) - A spinning ride.

4. Ancient Egypt
USS - WaterWorld

5. The Lost World
  • Canopy Flyer - A ride on flying Pteranodons to catch a bird's eye view of the park.
  • Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure (Premiere) - A thrill ride on white water. Expect to get wet.
  • Waterworld - Live stunt shows.
  • Amber Rock Climb (Premiere) - Rock climbing added with the thrill of the Lost World. Expect to pay an additional payment of S$10 per climb.
  • Dino-Soarin' (Premiere) - Ride on Pteranodons into the sky and plunge down.

6. Far Far Away
USS - Madagascar

7. Madagascar

There are about 30 restaurants and food carts together with 20 retail stores and carts located around USS. HERSHEY®'S Chocolate Store is found just outside the entrance and the Universal Studios flagship store is near the entrance in the 'Hollywood' zone.

I had a chance to tour USS before its official opening. The 20-hectare park is compact but comprehensive. As it was before the official opening, I was unable to experience the real crowd. However, just like any other theme parks, be prepared to queue, especially for those popular rides.

It was relatively cool when I visited but I can imagine the sweltering heat on days when the weather is less kind. In tropical Singapore, the hot and humid climate can be unbearable. USS has this taken care of by installing an eco-friendly cooler system within the park. Do not expect a fully air-conditioned USS but the eco-coolers help to lessen the discomfort.

Looking at the range of attractions and the entrance fees (Weekday/Weekend Adult Pass of S$66/S$72), I would think that the park is competitively positioned against similar attractions else where. However, since its opening, some visitors have thought that the tickets are expensive.

The park opens from 9am to 6pm. Some visitors complained that a nine-hour duration is too short. Until USS decides to extend its opening hours, plan your visit and start your fun day from the morning.

USS can only expect keener competition in the coming years. Dubai is now constructing Universal Studios Dubailand which is to be completed by 2012. Nearer to Singapore, South Korea is planning another theme park, Universal Studios South Korea which is to be completed by 2014.

As of now, it is too early to predict the success of USS. Together with the casino within the Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore obviously hopes to draw plane loads of tourists from all over the world. The general reception has been positive so far and with more attractions coming up within Resorts World Sentosa and other parts of Sentosa Island, things could get better.

I wish USS all the best.

"Laughter is an instant vacation."
~Milton Berle~

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Jacob said...

During our stay in one of the discount hotels Singapore, we had visited Sentosa Island, we enjoyed every moment in USS and it was a treat for the whole family.

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