I’ve been to Universal Studios Singapore on many occasions, and despite it being the smallest of the Universal parks in the world, it’s my favourite by a long chalk.
Universal Studios Singapore (USS) is located within Resorts World Sentosa, an integrated entertainment complex on the island of Sentosa, and enjoyed its grand opening 5 years ago in the summer of 2011. USS is so small that it cannot be realistically expanded, and because of this, it is unlikely that ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ will be arriving in Singapore any time soon. That said, USS still pulls above its weight. What it does have within its boundaries, it does better than most other theme parks in the world, and even gives regional rivals Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort a good run for their money! For a guide to Tokyo DisneySea check out my blog HERE.
Like other Universal Studios parks, USS has the traditional entrance façade and lots of movie music playing outside to capture your attention. Perhaps the biggest attention-grabber of all, though, is the trademark Universal globe, which rotates slowly amidst mist emanating from beneath. It provides a great backdrop to the entrance to the park, and of course a great photo opportunity! To check out what Universal Studios Japan is like, check out my review!
Adult admission prices as of June 2016 are S$74 per adult and S$54 per child. This is very reasonable compared to ticket prices for American and European theme parks. For individual overviews of each of the attractions and dining outlets at USS, check out Theme Park Insider. But for now, I will try to guide you though the various themed lands of Universal Studios Singapore with words and photos! Let’s start in the entrance plaza, which is known as Hollywood.
The first area is Hollywood, and it is themed after a famous 1970s boulevard. Palm trees, striking architecture, and naturally the Hollywood ‘Walk of Fame’ are all present here, and interestingly it is one of only two areas of USS which is covered with a shelter to protect it from the elements. There are no attractions in Hollywood, rather it acts as a walk-through area to get in and out of the park, but there are copious amounts of gift shops and refreshment stalls. Movie music also plays in the Hollywood area to help you get into the ‘movie studios’ atmosphere. One thing I like about Hollywood is the Despicable Me Minions that routinely run riot around the place!
Following an anti-clockwise route, which is the usual direction of journey for most visitors at USS due to the layout and location of the major thrill rides within the park, our next area is New York, which is designed in a postmodern style, with significant NYC landmarks dotted around such as neon lights, sewers, yellow taxis and black-and-white police vehicles, as well as various sidewalks. The New York area of USS is also home to two major attractions: “Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg”, which is a special effects stageshow mimicking the effects of a hurricane about the hit NYC, and “Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase”, which is the newest attraction currently open at USS. It is themed on the popular American kids tv show, Sesame Street, and is a nice indoor dark ride for the whole family. There are also frequent live performances in New York throughout the day, which can get very loud. Like Hollywood, New York is almost entirely undercover, and as such can get very crowded during one of Singapore’s incessant tropical monsoons.
Next up is Sci-Fi City. This area of USS could actually be my favourite area. It’s themed on a future science fiction metropolis and has arguably the two best and most thrilling rides in the whole park. There is also a nice waterfront area in Sci-Fi City where you can stop to rest if need be and look over the central waterways towards the other side of the park. Sci-Fi City is dominated by the Battlestar Galactica duelling rollercoasters. The red side of this duelling ride, Human, is a sit down coaster, and the blue side, CYLON, is an inverted coaster, which means your legs are dangling free beneath you as you ride. These two coasters intermingle with each other over Sci-Fi City and they provide many thrills and near-misses. I prefer the red side, which is the traditional sit down coaster, as you are only held in your seat by a lap bar which allows you much air-time over the course of the ride, whereas on the blue side you do tend to feel a little safer. I rode the old vehicles many times, and also the new vehicles in 2016, and I think the coaster has improved since this change; the ride is smoother now yet this doesn’t take away any of the excitement!
However, Sci-Fi City is perhaps now best known for “Transformers: The Ride”, which is a 4D dark ride simulator, based on the successful Michael Bay Transformers films. There is a comparable attraction at other Universal Parks, notably The Amazing Spider-Man ride, although that attraction is based on the comics, not the films (neither the Sam Raimi originals or the recent reboot). Riding Transformers is a fantastic experience and could very well be the highlight of your trip to USS! There is a Single Rider line for Transformers which means you can skip the regular queue and just walk straight on to the ride – but obviously you are used to fill up gaps in the ride vehicles, so you won’t be able to go on with your friends (but it’s still worth it just to keep riding again and again without queuing)!
The next land we set foot in is Ancient Egypt, themed to the golden era of Egyptian exploration. The area is incredibly well-themed with very atmospheric music playing within. The centrepiece of Ancient Egypt is without question the “Revenge of the Mummy”, which is my second-favourite theme park ride in the world (only lags behind the insanely epic “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” dark ride, at Universal Orlando).
Like with Transformers, there is a Single Rider queue for Revenge for the Mummy, which allows people to skip the regular queue and wait considerably less for your ride, although the catch is you may not be able to ride with your family or friends, hence the term ‘Single Rider’. You are basically used to fill up empty seats and to maximise load schedules. This, however, is not a problem for me, and often I find myself simply walking on to the ride without any wait whatsoever! The queue zone is immensely detailed. It is dark and atmospheric and genuinely creepy. The ride is an indoor coaster with lots of high speed turns and drops, which genuinely gives you a thrill. It is a ride I could go on again and again. There is also another attraction in Ancient Egypt called “Treasure Hunters”, which is the antithesis of “Revenge of the Mummy”: a slow-paced outdoor family ride where rides observe Egyptian animatronic wildlife from within their safari jeep. If you’re getting hungry, then the food in Ancient Egypt is among the best in the whole of USS. In 2016 in the Oasis Spice Café, you will find a treasure trove of Indian snacks, which have been adapted of course for the Singaporean palate.
The Lost World is next up, and is themed on the ever-popular Jurassic Park franchise. The highlight of The Lost World is undoubtedly the “Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure”, which is a water-based rapids escapade with surprises galore. I often find that I get TOO WET on this attraction so it is probably the one I have ridden the least, although it is still an incredibly well-themed attraction and with great special effects. There are also a few smaller attractions aimed at children, such as the “Canopy Flyer” and “Dino-Soarin'”, and plenty of food stalls and seating areas around here for the parents to sit and rest while the kids enjoy themselves (or dry off after the Rapids Adventure!).
Further around the park, we get to Far Far Away, a magical and fairytale kingdom based on the Shrek films. The enormous centrepiece here is the Far Far Away Castle, which is almost as impressive as the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland. In Far Far Away, USS has once again kept the kids at the forefront of their minds, as there are plenty of meet-and-greet opportunities with the major players from the world of Shrek, such as Princess Fiona, Puss, Donkey, and of course Shrek himself. There is a 3D cinema inside the castle which is a great way to get out of the heat and enjoy some air-con, although wait times for the 3D adventure are usually among the highest at USS, for some reason. The other attractions in Far Far Away are the “Enchanted Airways” family rollercoaster, and a new ride that opened late in 2014 called Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey, which is another family rollercoaster – but this time you are suspended in the air with your feet dangling free!
Madagascar completes our anti-clockwise tour around Universal Studios Singapore, and it is quite possible that we have saved the best until last – depending on your taste! Naturally, you could walk clockwise around the park upon arrival, in which case you would encounter the animals of Madagascar first. There is a great indoor boat ride here called “Madagascar: A Crate Adventure”. It is one of the best indoor boat rides I have ever seen, and while some might say it is childish due to its premise being based on the DreamWorks animated movies of the same name, it remains nevertheless very impressive. This attraction takes nearly 10 minutes to complete, although wait times are usually very long, so it may be best to make this one of your first ports of call if you plan on experiencing the adventure! “Madagascar: A Crate Adventure” is also situated inside one of the most impressive show buildings I have ever seen: a humungous cargo ship.
Additionally in the Madagascar area of USS, there is “King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round” which is a nicely designed carousel ride. There is great music here too, all around Madagascar, which is lifted straight from the movies, so fans of those movies will have a blast!
I really recommend visiting Universal Studios when in Singapore. The standards of the park are clearly on par with Disney parks around the world. There is no expense spared here at USS, and who knows what the future may hold. Even though the park cannot get any bigger due to the problems listed earlier in my post, I am nonetheless confident that standards will never slip here, and I always enjoy arriving at steamy Resorts World Sentosa for latest fix of the Universal Studios story.
Finally, I have listed some good blogs about USS with lots of photos, so you can check them out at your own leisure: firstly, this one from Karen Kho, who gives us many pictorial guides of the park, secondly this archive from Dejiki which informs us of all the park updates in 2015, and lastly this one from Where’s Sharron, who informs us about visiting USS with kids.