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13 Iconic Places In Singapore Easties Used To Lepak At That No Longer Exist

Places in the East of the past

If you grew up in the East as a 90s kid, you might remember skating through East Coast Park McDonald’s for a Happy Meal, or cheering on your friends during sports day at Tampines Stadium. These were some of the places that were an integral part of our childhood, where we made new friends and bonded with our families.

While some of these places have been replaced with modern amenities, others have simply vanished, leaving only nostalgia behind. Here are 13 iconic places in the East that no longer exist but might still spark fond memories.

1. Escape Theme Park

East Iconic Places Escape Theme Park
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Escape Theme Park was the Universal Studios Singapore equivalent of the early 2000s. The amusement park was located in Pasir Ris and had a range of  rides that were both thrilling and family friendly.

As a kid, I had a mental checklist of rides I wanted to conquer whenever I visited the park. It took some serious guts to brave the Cadbury Inverter and be stuck upside down for what felt like an eternity, or get soaked on the Wet and Wild roller coaster’s 5-storey drop. But the most exciting part was the day I was finally tall enough to take on the exciting go-kart course. 

East Iconic Places kite flyer
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One of the most popular rides was the indoor roller coaster that operated in complete darkness – Panasonic Alpha 8. Unfortunately, in 2005, a tragic accident occurred resulting in the ride’s closure and significant media attention.

The incident marked the beginning of a downward spiral for the park as the safety of the rides was continuously questioned, leading to heightened scrutiny and additional closures. Ultimately, the concerns contributed to the park’s closure in 2011. 

Since then, there have been lots of development in this neighbourhood, so check out some of the other things to do in Pasir Ris while you’re in the area.

Opened from: 2000-2011

2. East Coast Park McDonald’s

East Iconic Places ECP Mcdonald's
You could get a meal for dine-in, drive-thru, or skate through the restaurant for takeaway.
Image credit: Remember Singapore

Remember telling your friends “Let’s meet at McD’s” whenever there was a cycling outing at East Coast Park? In fact, East Coast Park McDonald’s was an iconic meeting point for many gatherings happening in the area. 

Unlike other outlets, this particular one had a unique appeal – customers could skate their way into the restaurant, making it an ideal pit stop for those in need of a Milo break without the hassle of removing their rollerblading gear.

East Iconic Places Mcdonald's farewell
The farewell party was held on 18th March 2012.
Image credit: irememberSG

When McDonald’s announced the branch’s closure in 2012, many Singaporeans flocked to the restaurant to grab one last McSpicy by the beach. On the night of the closure, staff and customers gathered together, taking photos and counting down to midnight as they said their final goodbyes.


Fast forward 4 years later, a revamped McDonald’s returned to the new Marine Cove, upgraded with touch screen ordering kiosks and a salad bar. Located right by the beach, it’s still as convenient for cyclists and rollerbladers to pop in for a quick bite.

Opened from: 1982-2012

3. Gay World Amusement Park 

East Iconic Places gay world
Image credit:
National Archives Singapore

Now now, it’s not what you think it is. Opened in the 1930s, Gay World, which was formerly named Happy World, was Singapore’s third amusement park. As its name explains, it was a place that brought joy to visitors of all ages. 

There was a wide variety of entertainment options – operas for those who liked to indulge in live performances, stunts to amuse the little ones, and even retail therapy for shopaholics. Eventually, when radio and television were introduced as entertainment alternatives, visitorship to Gay World declined, resulting in its closure.

East Iconic Places singapore indoor stadium
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Fun fact: If you’ve been to the recent Backstreet Boys or Westlife concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, you were actually standing in the spot where Gay World used to be.

Opened from: 1936-2001

4. Bedok’s Princess Theatre

East Iconic Places bedok princess theatre

Most of us may be familiar with Bedok’ Princess Theatre for the 24-hour McDonald’s. But it was actually a 3-screen cinema known for its affordable ticket prices compared to other theatres.

This might be unheard of now but this theatre used to allow movie-goers to bring in outside food. So, you could dabao your favourite satay from Bedok Interchange hawker or grab an extra value meal from McDonald’s for your movie, without worrying about temporary confiscation.

East Iconic Places bedok djitsun mall
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The cinema closed its doors in 2008 due to a lack of maintenance but that wasn’t the end of its heyday. It was soon repurposed into a hangout for residents in the area with activities like a karaoke bar, billiards saloon, and LAN game shop.

In 2016, the site was eventually demolished to pave the way for the construction of Djitsun  Mall Bedok.

Opened from: 1983-2008

East Iconic Places republic theatre
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Those familiar with Marine Parade may also remember the Republic Theatre, which shared a similar fate as Bedok’s Princess Theatre. This cinema had to halt its operations due to a decrease in the number of movie-goers, compounded by its inconvenient location since there was no MRT station nearby.

Fast forward to today, a new Marine Parade MRT station will soon be built on the same site, bringing more accessibility to the area including Parkway Parade shopping centre and Marine Parade Library nearby.

Opened from: 1980-1999

5. East Coast Park chalets

East Iconic Places ECP chalets
Image credit:
Goldkist Beach Resort Singapore

In the early 2000s, chalets in Singapore were a popular hangout spot for youngsters, whether it was for class gatherings or 18th birthday parties. Everyone loved the idea of getting together under one roof to bond over BBQs and outdoor games held right beside the bungalows.

The East Coast Park chalets were a row of red brick houses along the park. With easy access to the beach, it was a popular destination for families and friends looking for some fun in the sun, sand, and sea, while being able to camp overnight in something more atas than a tent.

East Iconic Places Goldkist Beach Resort
Image credit:
Goldkist Beach Resort Singapore

The chalets were later upgraded into beach resorts. However, due to increasing competition from newer chalets sprouting up in the East and the lack of modern amenities, they were no longer attractive to visitors and eventually had to shut down.

East Iconic Places xtreme skatepark
Image adapted from:
National Parks Board, @jonathan_instasegram

The site where the beach resorts used to be have been taken over by cycling circuits for beginners and the Xtreme Skatepark for skating enthusiasts.

Opened from: 1974-2015

6. Tampines Stadium & Sports Hall

East Iconic Places tampines sports hall
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Before the birth of Our Tampines Hub, Tampines Stadium & Sports Hall stood in its place with its iconic red brick walls. The venue consisted of a swimming complex, gym, and stadium that hosted school sports days and public community events like family walks and carnivals.

East Iconic Places tampines stadium
Football with Dad – an event held at Tampines Stadium.
Image credit: Exclusinga Media Portal

Besides being a place for sports and fitness, Tampines Stadium & Sports Hall was also the go-to spot for teens who craved a gaming experience at the massive LAN game shop. After school, students would flock there to dive into games like L4D and CS.

The shop even provided spare clothes for students to swap out of their uniforms and jump straight into the action without worrying about getting busted by teachers doing their rounds in the area. To teens back then, that was some 5-star service.

Opened from: 1989-2011

7. Bedok Swimming Complex

East Iconic Places Bedok swimming complex
Image credit:
Remember Singapore

If you grew up in Bedok, chances are you had your first dip in the water at Bedok Swimming Complex. It was a hub for swimmers of all levels, including competitive swimmers and kids.

The swimming complex has since been relocated to Heartbeat@Bedok. If you’re still wondering what’s part of the East Coast Plan, the former site is set to be redeveloped into housing units. So, those interested in living in this neighbourhood should keep an eye out for upcoming BTO applications.

Opened from: 1981-2017

8. Former Queen’s Theatre

East Iconic Places former queen's theatre
Image credit:
Remember Singapore

As you stroll past Grandlink Square Condominium, you might notice its unique colonial-style exterior. These are the remnants of the Former Queen’s Theatre – a cinema that was popular among our grandparents’ generation from the 1930s1980s.

East Iconic Places former queen's theatre
Bringing a piece of the past to the present.
Image credit: Roots

During the era when local policemen were still dressed in shorts, a movie ticket cost only $1. Yet, going to the cinema was considered a luxury, especially when you could get a stick of satay for only $0.02 or a plate of Hokkien mee for $0.10

Nevertheless, the theatre was still a popular go-to spot for many. However, with the rise of alternative entertainment options, the number of people visiting the cinema declined, ultimately leading to the theatre’s closure.

Opened from: 1930-1982

9. Tampines Regional Library

East Iconic Places tampines library
Image credit:
National Library Board

Tampines Regional Library was a community hub for book lovers in the East. Like most public libraries in SG, this branch offered a wide range of books, magazines, and multimedia resources that catered to readers of all ages and interests. 

East Iconic Places tampines library children train
At times, the train’s shelves held books, and discovering a title that piqued my interest felt like a stroke of luck, especially when I couldn’t find them in the regular bookshelves.
Image credit: Tickikids

It was the first library I had been to as a child, and the children’s section on the ground floor was a highlight for me then. Other than having shelves stacked with books of all kinds, there was also a train that served as a sitting area for kids to climb aboard and immerse themselves in their favourite stories. 

East Iconic Places tampines library culinary studios
The new Tampines Regional Library’s Culinary Studios.

The library has since moved to Our Tampines Hub and has been given a thoughtful redesign to cater to everyone. In addition to traditional reading activities, the new library offers a culinary studio where cooking enthusiasts can attend workshops.

East Iconic Places tampines library children shelves

The shelves in the children’s section are also thoughtfully designed to be eye level with the kiddos so they can easily access the books.

Opened from: 1994-2017

10. Big Splash

East Iconic Places big splash
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Long before the days of Adventure Cove or Wild Wild Wet, Big Splash was the go-to destination for anyone looking to cool off and have some fun in the sun. This iconic playground offered a refreshing escape from the usual on-land activities with its towering water slides in rainbow hues.

Besides the water activities, there was also an arcade where visitors could enjoy games and entertainment if they chose to stay dry. Those looking to grab a bite in between their swims could do so from the restaurants nearby.

East Iconic Places coastal playgrove

After years of being a beloved water park for many, Big Splash’s popularity dwindled in the face of bigger, newer water parks, and that was the end of its story.

The location has undergone a transformation since its days of hosting wet activities. In 2021, it was converted into Coastal PlayGrove, featuring a fun outdoor play area for kids to go down giant slides.

Opened from: 1977-2006

11. Onsight Climbing Gym 

East Iconic Places onsight climbing gym
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Onsight Climbing Gym, located at Guillemard Road, catered to both competitive climbers and beginners alike. 

The climbing experience at Onsight was unique because it was reminiscent of climbing in the mountains, with no air conditioning in the gym. While this helped to train one’s stamina, it could have been intimidating for newcomers, particularly as humidity built up at the top.

East Iconic Places onsight climbing walls
Climbers could find different ways to tackle the walls or take on a speed challenge on the speed climbing wall.
Image credit: Victor Soh

Unfortunately, the gym recently discontinued operations. We heard that the premises will be redesigned to cater to another sport, with plans to make it a new home for badminton players.

Opened from: 2011-2021

12. Funworld 

East Iconic Places funworld
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As a child growing up in the 90s, a visit to Parkway Parade with my family always meant one thing – a trip to Funworld. The massive indoor amusement park located on the third floor of the shopping centre was a haven for kids and adults alike.

It’s hard to fathom how the entire space could accommodate numerous arcade games, a merry-go-round, and even mini bowling alleys. The cherry on top was the ticket stubs the games would dispense, which could be exchanged for mini prizes like erasers or toys.

East Iconic Places funworld ride
I had my first driving experience at Funworld.
Image credit: Pat Yuan Teng

Funworld’s closure in 2001 was heartbreaking for those of us who had grown up with it as a beloved part of our childhood.

Opened from: 1983-2001

13. Changi Airport T2 McDonald’s

East Iconic Places mcdonald's t2
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Changi Airport

Changi Airport might just be one of the few airports in the world where locals enjoy hanging out as much as tourists love going through it. That’s because the amenities go above and beyond to cater to the needs of not only travellers but also locals and visitors alike.

For those who were mugging for exams back in the day, McDonald’s at Terminal 2 was the ideal spot to ton the night while burning the midnight oil. With 24/7 air-conditioning, snacks for those late night hunger pangs, and a McCafe to keep energy levels up, it provided a conducive environment to ensure a productive study sesh.

East Iconic Places mcdonald's t2 closing
A ticket for one of the last flights out from McDonald’s at Terminal 2.
Image credit: Pat Yuan Teng

However, we had to bid farewell to another beloved McDonald’s in the east when T2 was closed in 2020 for major renovations. But the good news is that McDonald’s will be making its grand return to T2 at the arrival hall in the near future.

Opened from: 2004-2020

Iconic places in the East that are no longer around

For East dwellers during the 1990s and early 2000s, many of these iconic spots hold a special place in our memories. They were the sites of many weekend adventures spent with family or the first places where we got to hang out with friends without the watchful eye of our parents. 

Some have been relocated to more modern and convenient locations, while others have made way for new developments altogether. Although these places no longer exist in their physical forms, the nostalgia and fondness we feel for these places remain as strong as ever.

For more fun places to visit in the East:

Cover image adapted from: rcdb, National Library Board, Changi Airport, Roots