About Universal Studios Singapore
USS (Universal Studios Singapore) theme parks are based around an entertainment industry theme, in particular movies and television. That may explain their popular catch phrase “ride the movies”. Their parks feature numerous movie based attraction rides, live performance shows and real-life characters like Marilyn Monroe and Betty Boop walking around. With two theme parks in USA (Hollywood & Florida) and one in Japan, we were quite fortunate for universal studios to open up a franchise right here in Singapore! It was built at a cost of US$4.5 billion and the park opened “officially” to well received reviews on May 28, 2011.
Getting in Universal Studios
Tip 1: Buy the tickets online from the official website, and just print out your e-tickets and show them at the gate! We made the mistake of going on a non-peak day at 11am and thinking there will be no queue, and ended up spending 25 frustrating minutes in line. Sigh! There are only so many pictures you can take off yourself and the UWS globe before you start pulling each other’s hair out.
Tip 2: Buy an express pass. Some people will refuse to pay $98 (+$30 on non-peak days) for a ticket when they can be paying just $68. But let me tell you that the extra money spent is well worth it. The queues are inevitable, even going on a Non-Peak weekday, there were throngs of people and the average ride had an hour queue time. With an express pass your queue time literally averages 5 minutes. After queuing up 90 mins for a ride which lasted 30 seconds (the Canopy Flyer) my mood was pretty much ruined especially since I found out that was going to be the average waiting time at all the other rides. That was of course till I discovered the existence of the express ticket! Hallelujah! With the express ticket we literally never had to queue again and saved at least 5 hours of queuing time. If you really have to just get the standard ticket, make sure your iPad is fully charged or you have a good book ready. You will spend 80% of your time in the park in the queues.
Tip 3: Go after lunch. There is no point going early, the morning queues and crowd is horrendous because people are all thinking the same thing, lets get a head start and start the day early! Head start my ass! Instead plan to reach at about 12 noon and have lunch at one of the restaurants at UWS, because how often do you have the opportunity to eat over priced theme park food? And with the credit card $6 off food discount the F&B prices become well worth it. The queues and people generally get a lot better as the day continues and all the unfortunate people who woke up early in the morning feel the tiredness and start to head home.
Don’t waste time queuing for tickets, you can have plenty of queuing time later haha! Make sure you buy your tickets online!
Ticket Price Information
Adults: (ages 13-64) One Day Non-Peak Pass $68 | One Day Peak Pass $74
Child: (ages 4 to 12)One Day Non-Peak Pass $50 | One Day Peak Pass $54
Seniors: (Age 65 and above)One Day Non-Peak Pass $32 | One Day Peak Pass $36
Universal Express: Non-Peak $30 | Peak $50
The Universal Express allows you to “cut the queue”. This means instead of having to queue 1 hour and 30 mins, you waltz in without having to queue, to the disbelief of everyone lining up. It all depends on how many people also have the universal express. This is valid for use for only one time each at every individual attraction.
Tip 4: There will probably be some credit / debit card promotion going on. So ask them and use it! The sales staff neglected to tell us about it. Anyway we used this master card promotion which gave us $6 off of our meals and $6 off any retail purchase, which was money we were inevitably going to spend, so it was a nice start to the day.
The 7 different worlds
UWS is divided into 7 different worlds each with their own distinct theme. The layout is like this – on average each world has 1-3 attraction rides or shows, 1-3 F&B Stores and 1-2 Retail Outlets each in their own theme.
Hollywood & New York are labeled as two “different” worlds but they are really one and the same. New York is super tiny and has a special effects show which I would recommend skipping and Hollywood has a “Monster Rock” musical which we didn’t get to see. These worlds don’t have any rides but its at these locations you get the best backgrounds, hollywood walk of fame stars on the floor and if you’re lucky get to take pictures with certain characters, after queuing up of course, because at universal studios queuing is very universal. We spotted a Frankenstein, Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe and Po! from Kung Fu Panda. New York also probably the only eatery worth eating in UWS called “Mel’s Drive-in”, with onion rings, frosty milk shakes and burgers that rival those of Carls Jr in looks at least. Make sure you eat the fast food there instead of the “microwave lookalike” fast food at Far Far Away. Those look seriously bad. Also, there are tons of retail stores in Hollywood which is at the entrance/exit of UWS which sells like everything in the park so you don’t have to worry about missing out on anything from the retail stores in the individual worlds you can just get them on your way out.
Best parts: The characters, pretty stores and lovely backgrounds for photo taking!
Tip 5: Suggested path after going through the entrance (Hollywood) is to head right to New York and eat at Mel’s Diner. Then backtrack a bit and go to the left to Madagascar > Far Far Away > Water world etc so you end up going in a nice circle finishing in Sci-Fi City which lets you take the BattleStar ride when all your food is properly digested.
PO is running away! Its break time leave me alone!!!!!!
Yes! The first decent looking fast food joint, unfortunately we found this way after we ate our terribad Lost World food court lunch!
Madagascar is of course a world based on the movie series of the same name. As the content is so limited (there were only 2 movies?) this is probably the worse world and the quality of the statues/characters crafted seemed lacking in comparison to the other worlds, they looked bad or perhaps badly maintained. I was hoping they did more with the penguin squad or perhaps gave them their own ride who were my favourite characters but it was just bad overall. Actually, this is basically the “kids world” and every ride is a kids one from the “King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round” carousel to the “Madagascar: A Crate Adventure” water ride which went on for way too long. If I was a kid however, I would not enjoy it and I’ll start crying and make a scene for mommy in revenge.
Best Parts: I guess its okay if you’re below 10 years old, otherwise don’t spend too much time in this world and skip the “Crate Adventure” ride. Its one of the first rides in the park so tons of people queue up for it and the line is horrendously long. What people don’t know is the ride is meant for kids and its just long, bad and needs to be skipped.
Far Far Away is based on the Shrek universe. As a fan of the Shrek movies I was looking forward to this world the most and it was my second favourite world. I like that all the rides have an estimated waiting time, thats a great feature for sure.
Best Part: The Shrek 4D show is like a mini movie in 4D.
The Lost World is basically Jurassic Park + Water World. Apparently 20 years after a movie is being made (Water World), it turns from from Box Office Disaster into All Time Classic and gets its own world in a theme park. Unfortunately water world was closed off or something that day so I didn’t get to see much but apparently they have an impressive show! The Jurassic Park area was generally enjoyable, but avoid the food court there if you value your stomach.
Best Parts: The waterworld show and the Jurassic Park Rapid Adventure ride.
Queuing up 90 minutes for a 30 second “Canopy Flyer” ride. Not a pleasurable experience.
Nobody told me I needed raincoats! Well for the “Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure”, you do or you WILL get very wet! They sell raincoats for $3 bucks in vending machine.
Ancient Egypt is home of The Mummy ride, a fantastic semi in the dark roller coaster “indoor ride”. It also has by far the most impressive sculptures and designs in the park. Photographers get your fix is here!
Best Parts: The massive sculptures, landscape and mummy ride!
Truly impressive abs!
Sci-Fi City goes for the futuristic look, and its not the best one. Theres the transformers theme and then theres the battlestar gallatica theme and they are just sort of mashed together with “futuristic” music and Ta-Da! Welcome to Sci-Fi city! However, what they have are by far the two best rides in the park and that alone makes this world hands down the best world in the park. More on that later on! Go to this world last, when all your food is properly digested (its at the end anyway).
Best Parts: The rides!
The “Accelerator” ride: If you’re thinking to yourself “that looks like it will give me a headache” you are right, it will.
Summary of The Rides & Shows
For the rides I didn’t go on myself I’m just going to put the average Internet vote so you guys at least have an idea on what to expect.
Hollywood & New York:
Pantages Hollywood Theater “Monster Rock” – 3.5 stars
A 15 minute musical featuring Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and so on in a medley of pop and rock tunes. Didn’t see it myself but the word is its above average.
Lake Hollywood Spectacular – 3 stars
A pyrotechnics show that runs on Friday / Saturday. Again I missed it as I went on Monday.
Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg – 3 stars
Didn’t enjoy this. This was a look behind the scenes of movies in particular the special effects that go on. In the first room you are showed a trailer and some some miscellaneous movies with Mr Spielberg talking, it was boring and underwhelming and I can’t even imagine film students finding it fun. Then you’re moved to the next room where the “magic happens” and you see a demonstration of a “Stage 5 hurricane” which was a lot better. You feel the heat from the flames, and a ship hurls towards you before suddenly stopping so avoid the front row if you don’t want to get wet and take the middle row so you’re closer to the action. It just felt outdated and kinda like what I saw in Movie World Australia 10 years ago and it wasn’t as good.
Madagascar: A Crate Adventure – 1 star (adult) | 4 star (kids)
A 9.5 minute water ride meant for kids, not advertised for kids. For all the hype and massiveness of the ride – which I bet costs a ton to build, it went on for way too long and the whole ride was underwhelming. Would die hard Madagascar fans like it? Doubt it, they would be disappointed. The “climax” was when you thought you would get wet at a waterfall but it suddenly stops. Exciting stuff. NOT!
King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round – 3 stars
Kids carousel Ride.
Far Far Away World
Shrek 4-D Adventure – 4 stars
Our first good “ride” of the day! You put on 3D glasses and what they mean by 4D is, well the chair you’re sitting in moves about and the movie “interacts” with you – I shall not spoil the surprise on how! I believe this is a duplicate of the ride they have at several different places in the world so its not unique to UWS. The movie lasts about 15 mins with a story on how Princess Fiona gets kidnapped. Its also located in a castle so thats nice.
Enchanted Airways – 3.4 stars
One of the two “Mini-Coasters” in the park that lasts about 30 seconds. Its quite fun and a lot “scarier” than it looks.
Magic Potion Spin – 0 stars.
This is the worse ferris world I’ve seen, its like 4 meters high and located inside a retail shop. I can’t imagine a world this would be fun in, not even Far Far Away.
Donkey Live – 3.5 stars
A live actor singing, joking and entertaining guests. People might miss its simply because its located at one of the side alleys away from the main street.
Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride – 4.5 stars
I thought this indoor roller coaster ride was an incredible experience. Bags aren’t allowed on this ride so make sure you use one of the free lockers provided nearby. Imagine riding a roller coaster in total darkness, sudden drops and reverse turns and a story line you can’t keep up with thanks to all the excitement. Highly recommended!
Treasure Hunters – 0 stars
Again, one of those kids rides not advertised as a kids ride so you end up queuing for it and hating it. This is hands down the worse ride in the park its basically 4 people in a jeep moving around “Ancient Egypt” for 2 minutes. Even the 8 year old kids behind us hated it and were sarcastically ridiculing it the whole way through. So much for your target demographic! I guess the redeeming factor is if you’re in the front seat you can at least control the steering wheel somewhat when it plods on along the automated track so theres that simulated driving experience which kids might like.
The Lost World
Canopy Flyer – 3.5 stars
Another 30 second mini-coaster ride a lot like the Enchanted Airways one in far far away. Again it was a lot more thrilling then it looked! I preferred this one as firstly it gave you an aerial tour over the Lost World and secondly because there was more leg room with your legs dangling out of the ride which provided a heightened sense of thrill. Make sure you sit on the backward seats for added suspense!
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure – 4 stars
The best water ride at the park. You get in a compact water raft with 8 other people. I highly recommend putting your bag in the locker because it is very likely you WILL get wet and you don’t want to spoil your camera, phone and other digital stuff. As for rain coats well the ride culminates with a one of a kind lift where you’re basically lifted with an elevator to gain height and then brought to a sudden water drop. If you happen to face the drop backwards then congratulations, you will be soaking wet and the $3 Raincoat would have come in very handy. The mechanics of how this works must be fascinating and this is one of those rides which is definitely worth queuing up over an hour for.
Waterworld – 4.5 stars
Hands down the best show in the park, with several people returning to watch it twice. Talented actions make this stunt show entertaining and hilarious. Of course if you sit in the soaking area be prepared to get wet!
Amber Rock Climb – 2 stars
This is like a randomly inserted Rock Climbing wall you pay $5 to climb. I thought it was silly and out of place, and really short.
Dino-Soarin’ – 3 stars
A kids ride where kids can “Pilot” their own “Soaring dino” up and down.
Accelerator – 1 star
A merry go round for adults which will give you a splitting headache. Avoid.
Battlestar Galactica – 5 stars
The best thrill ride in the park. A pair of dueling coasters which has become the signature attraction of UWS. The Human track as the name suggests is more family friendly and the Cylon track is more extreme with multiple inverted loops. If you come to UWS you at least have to ride on the Human track!
Transformers: The Ride – 5 stars
A phenomenal world class visual feast complete with a pretty awesome transformer arc story where you are a new recruit helping the autobots defend the earth. The “3D” is so in your face and realistic its like nothing I have ever seen before, complete with the vehicle simulation you feel totally immersed IN the story and it was by far my partners favourite ride of the show. It will make you marvel at what technology has achieved. Probably the best 3D/4D ride on EARTH at the moment.
And now for the special mention awards!
Honourable Mention for worse ride of the Theme Park goes to Treasure Hunters
AVOID AT ALL COSTS
Honourable Mention for best ride of the Theme Park goes to Transformers.
Your mind will be blown.
On your way out
Stop by the Malaysian Food Street aka Food Court, which is just around the UWS entrance. The food there was far better than anything inside the theme park. The claypot seemed very popular but we opted for the Prawn Mee /w Pork Ribs at the end of the shops which was absolutely delicious!
Universal Studios Singapore Verdict
UWS is a world class theme park and a must visit for every Singaporean and every tourist to our island. The ticket prices are steep but the experience is well worth it. Buy the express ticket, buy them online first and make sure you try the Battlesta Roller Coasters, The Mummy ride and Transformers ride.
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars