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It's finally open -- First look (and ride) at Universal Studios Singapore
With Universal Studios' latest theme park now open to the public, mrbrown sneaks a camera onto the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster ride
Against all danger warnings and common sense, mrbrown smuggles a video cam to capture the first ride on the gut-wrenching Battlestar Galactica ride. Video by mrbrown for CNNGo.
With Universal Studios Singapore now fully open for visitors, CNNGo columnist and Singapore blogger mrbrown was one of the first to experience the rides and attractions of Universal Studios Singapore. He braves the rides, shares his take on the whole place and answers the question, is the latest big-name theme park in Asia a big whoop or a huge yawn?
I am a theme park junkie. It started when my father took me to Gay World amusement park, in the days when the word meant carefree or happy. We had the best of times on the carousel, in the vomit-inducing rotating teacup rides, and the electric bumper cars. There was even a daredevil motorcycle show where two riders rode inside a giant cylindrical concrete hole, mostly riding on the walls.
Those days gave way to sophisticated theme parks like Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Universal Studios in the US, where I went on vacation as kid as well as for my honeymoon.
My first impression was how small the place was. I was used to sprawling grounds but upon inspection, I realized that while the physical size of the park was compact, they managed to squeeze many rides and attractions in the smaller space, kind of like Singapore itself, cramming everything into a small amount of space.
Either that or when I was a child, my legs were shorter and distances felt further.
The wife and I began our media preview looking at the map and deciding which way to go, clockwise or anti-clockwise. In the end, we decided it did not matter because the media crowd was not that big and we won't need to fight queues.
Our first stop was the Hollywood area where we queued for Lights, Camera, Action, supposedly hosted by Steven Spielberg. We never got to see Mr Spielberg because after waiting for 10 minutes, and being told there was a slight delay due to technical issues, we were finally told to come back later in the day, sorry.
That was not a good start to the day. In fact, the day was plagued with short shutdowns of attractions for technical and operational reasons, which annoyed us somewhat.
Still, we managed to try some of the attractions like the Battlestar Galactica dual roller coasters. The wife and I tried the red Human one first and I think we bit off more than we could chew. The wife took an hour to recover from her ride though I totally had an adrenaline blast. While she loves coaster rides, she also has a healthy fear of them. And our age meant we could no longer jump onto a coaster and come out the other end dying to go up again, like we did when we were younger.
After the coaster ride, we decided to look for less thrilling rides to give our frail middle-aged bodies time to recover.
We wandered into Far Far Away and checked out Shrek's Far Far Away Castle, where was a 4D show to watch. This means you watch a 3D movie with the 4th D being the moving seats and special effects like water being spit at you.
The Singaporean young man who read us some instructions, obviously written for American voices, told us in his singsong faux American accent that we had to follow some rules, or "There will be frogging". We were told to repeat after him every time he mentioned the punishment for not following Lord Farquaad's rules.
"There will be frogging!" we shouted enthusiastically.
After a few shouts, we realized he meant "There will be flogging".
I convinced the wife to try the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. She kept saying no, she doesn't like "The Dip", referring to the moment when thrill rides send you down a steep drop. I said it looks pretty ok from out here, let's go.
Once more testing her trust in our 13 years of marriage, she agreed to board the round raft that would take us into the Jurassic Park compound. We already knew how wet it may get, and purchased our disposable rain coats for S$1.50 each. I reckoned there was no point getting too wet before we were done checking out the rest of the park and also, I saw some of the people who came out of the Jurassic Park ride positively drenched. We are talking Wet T-shirt Night drenched.
The ride itself was okay. Some bumps and turns, some spills. The highlight was supposed to be the T-Rexes and random dinosaurs lurching at you. I am not sure why but we were not too frightened by them. Maybe it was because we had seen the Jurassic Park ride before years ago at the other Universal Studios. Maybe it was because we have been spoiled by Avatar the movie, and expected to see something more than just stiff looking animatronic dinosaurs.
I had more fun looking at others who did not come prepared with rain coats and who happened to sit on the Splash Zone of the raft.
Then we entered Ancient Egypt and tried the Revenge of the Mummy, an indoor roller coaster ride. The wife decided that this would not be as bad as the BSG coasters since it was "in the dark", she said.
We had to walk a long long way to reach the ride. Inside the building, they had obviously planned for long queues. You could run a marathon inside, using the queue path.
The ride itself was fun, with some cool effects like fire and an evil robot mummy damning us to hell, but just when you started to feel the thrills of the ride, it ended. It needed to be longer, methinks.
I doubled back to the BSG coaster to try the blue Cylon coaster because I really wanted to know which one was scarier. The Cylon coaster was different in that, unlike the Human coaster where we were seated, here we sat with our legs dangling and there was more crazy stuff like cockscrews and a cobra roll.
Verdict? I liked both coasters. Both were scary in their own ways. I only wish I could have convinced the wife to ride the Cylon one with me.
We also checked out Monster Rock, a mini-musical with Universal's monsters. That was very slick though it lasted only about 20 minutes. The most fun bit was listening to one of the Caucasian actors singing a Mandarin song and another "monster" doing an impression of the Wonder Girls' "Nobody."
We finally broke for lunch at Mel's Dinner at almost 2pm. It was not as expensive as I thought theme park food might be. Less than S$10 bought you a generous portion of cheeseburger with drinks and fries.
You may be wondering why we had such a late lunch. Word to the wise -- it is never a good idea to do coaster rides on a full stomach.
I will certainly return. I did not have time to try other thrilling stuff like all the kiddie-safe rides. In the interest of helping parents decide what is good for their kids, I shall leave my adrenaline addiction at home and subject myself to the mind-numbingly slow jeep ride on Treasure Hunters or ride King Julien's Party-Go-Round carousel.
Universal Studios Singapore
Resorts World Sentosa
Tickets available at admission or via website