If you think New York on the east coast is a long way to Hollywood in the west, then you haven't been to Madagascar and back. Now that's Far Far Away, so far you think you might have hallucinations you're in Ancient Egypt, thrown back in time and in The Lost World. But mere metres away, you're back to the thrills of modern Sci-Fi City. Welcome to Universal Studios Singapore and its seven zones!
Ahead of the public opening this Thursday, 18th March, I was a happy camper with an invitation to suss out the thrills at Singapore's hippest attraction. With a buffet of 24 rides and attractions (a few remained closed at our time of visit), I was like a dog let out of a cage ready to run loose. Who's got time to look at the park map we were given?! My companions - Gold 90FM's Maggie, Hossan and Audrey. C'mon guys!
If you've been anywhere near or on Sentosa in recent months, you would have seen the blue and red roller coaster tracks that loop through towering white pylons. Battlestar Galactica ought to be the hottest ride in the theme park! Heard so much about it being the world's tallest duelling roller coasters and all. The publicity material tells me to choose a side - Human or Cylon. Trash that! No loyalties for me, I'll ride both. Thank you very much! First up, the Human Viper Mark II. Mustering enough courage, I walked up to the red bucket seat assigned and strapped myself in. Trying to look confident like I was a roller coaster junkie, I asked the ride attendant which was the scariest bit of the ride. I'm one who prefers to expect the expected. She said, "The sharp drop at the top of the ramp". I looked up. Gulp. My pulse was beginning to race. She was right. Who was to know if my heart was racing faster than the 90km/h the ride promised to be? After the first swoop, I was crying out for more heart-stopping action. My cry went unanswered. The rest of the ascents and depressions were mild, so too the cornerings. I wasn't done yet and consoled myself that I still hadn't gone on the 'fiercer' ride of the two - the red tracked Cylon Raider. So if you, like me, would like your first ride at the park to be 14-storeys in the sky, head directly to Sci-Fi City (make a right once you come through the entrance at Hollywood and round the corner at New York and you're there).
If you're planning to move through the park anti-clockwise, then Ancient Egypt awaits. You've got to take the Revenge of the Mummy ride! It's full of surprises and if I tell you what to expect, it wouldn't be a surprise any more would it?! So just take it. But you've got to keep your bags and any loose article on you (children and spouses excluded) in a locker. There's no charge for locker rental if your belongings are there for under 30 minutes.
Remember Wonderland at Kallang in the 70s and the one and only roller coaster it boasted back in the day? Well if you want to relive that particular ride (which is pretty tame compared to the Battlestar Galactica), then find it in Enchanted Airways in Far Far Away. If you or whoever you go with needs some time warming up to roller coaster rides, this has to be it.
Along the way, the maps came out again and we were losing our bearings after a restroom stop. But before our fingers started tracing the route we'd taken, a staff member walked over and asked if she could be of assistance. Kudos for her being so clued in and attentive to our needs. After asking if a certain attraction was open, she radioed a colleague to ask and promptly saved us a walk half way round the park. Speaking of attentive staff, they were also quick to spot some monkey business in one corner of the park when I decided to turn my world upside down with some slick moves I'd picked up from pole fitness class some months back!
We caught a breather at the beautiful Pantages Hollywood Theatre (where AI Finalist Adam Lambert recently performed), sitting down for live entertainment with the cast of Monster Rock. This is where Universal's monsters transform themselves into Rock 'n Roll stars. Don't let the pyrotechnics scare you.
We had a dim sum lunch at Hollywood China Bistro before heading for the exit, flanked on both sides by boisterous staff who applauded and waved farewell to one and sundry. It was surreal - like we were being treated like emirs for braving our fears.
I almost never made it out of USS alive after a chance meeting with Beetlejuice...
...but am thankful he let me go to see another day and ride another roller coaster.
Hours of operation: Weekdays: 9am – 6pm
For this soft opening period, operating hours on Sat, Sun and Public Holidays are 9am - 6pm.