Rants of a Weird Little Bird

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Archive for July 2012

Thoughts from A Visit to Universal Studios Singapore

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Recently, I went to the Universal Studios amusement park in Singapore to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The place comprised an interesting theme park, with plenty of rides and shows related to the motion pictures produced by Universal Studios. Personally, theme parks have never been a staple of my taste of must-see-before-I-die places (I much prefer greenery any day), but as things went, it was still a generally great way to spend the day, and marvel at the engineering and decorative aspects of the large-scale amusement park.

The queues to most of the more thrilling and popular rides were long, but it was admirable how the planners of the rides had put on their thinking caps to make the queueing bearable – and continuous. Waiting was never a complaint, for there were always signs to read and videos to watch.

TRANSFORMERS 3D

For example, for the queue line leading to the Transformers ride, we walked through an array of screen panels and switches. Even though they did nothing even when pressed, few (children and adults alike) didn’t resist the temptation to turn the knobs or press the buttons when they walked through them. There was also an interactive video explaining the story behind the ride we were going to take.

The riders were split up into groups of fifteen, each group to be seated in an “EVAC” – the vehicle which (according to the story) was to enter a base through enemy territory and smuggle a device to safety.

The ride itself was an interesting affair. We had to put on 3-dimensional glasses for the ride before it started. Traversing through the streets, we were taken through combat between Optimus Prime (If you don’t know about the Transformers cartoon series and its characters, go here) and Megatron.

Throughout the journey, the effects were spectacular. If you didn’t know better, you would feel as if you were really being chased through the streets by Megatron and his army of Decepticon robots, including being smashed through skyscrapers, chased through the streets, evading the Decepticon robots, getting swallowed and falling down from tens of storeys.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Human)

This was a high-speed roller-coaster ride. The requirements were quite stringent – we were not to carry loose articles during the ride. However, thankfully, the amusement park planners had thought of something to mitigate this minor inconvenience. Lockers were situated only a stone’s throw away from where the queue entrances were. We had to enter our dates of birth at the computer terminal, and were given a selection of colours to choose from. If we had chosen orange, for example, a locker number in the zone of orange-coloured lockers would be automatically unlocked and assigned to us. After placing our articles into the lockers and closing the door, the locker would automatically lock by itself, and be reopened once we re-entered our dates of birth into the computer terminal. Lockers were also placed strategically near rides where we wanted to deposit our items.

The Battlestar Galactica ride had two options – the Human and Cylon versions. The Human version contained no inverted loops, but was faster. Being through many topsy-turvy and dramatic changes in altitude while flying, I had been more mentally prepared than most others for what the ride could offer, but the first drop from the peak of the ride still managed to surprise me somewhat. Only when I observed the roller coasters a moment later, did Irealise that the two roller coasters actually ran concurrently.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Cylon)

The Cylon version was, unlike the human version, an inverted roller-coaster that ran in tandem with the latter. It featured several inverted loops, and even involved a loop very near the ground, complete with dry ice. It could have been a thrilling ride, had this blogger not had more harrowing experiences in the air before.

REVENGE OF THE MUMMY

The Revenge of The Mummy ride was not unlike the Transformers. However, we had to deposit our articles, and it also featured more “dark” themes – like skeletons, creepy-crawlies, and an undead Egyptian mummy. Additionally, the Mummy was a real roller-coaster ride. A novelty which I had never experienced before, was that the roller-coaster actually travelled backwards on one stage.

JURASSIC PARK RAPIDS ADVENTURE

The Jurassic ride was water-based, and it featured a ride through a land of dinosaurs. What was impressive was the prodigious research conducted in the making of the videos and signboards we could read while waiting for our turn to take the ride, describing the characteristics of various kinds of dinosaurs that used to exist. It featured a few surprises in store as well.

WATERWORLD: A LIVE SEA WAR SPECTACULAR

The Waterworld show was a spectacular drama fest. It featured plenty of choreographed fight scenes, controlled explosions, people jumping into the water from heights one would normally never have contemplated. There was even a scene where one of the characters had his clothes set on fire. It was a great show, and one has to also give credit to the planners, who had the seats painted in different colours, to distinguish between the “Soak Zone” (where getting wet was expected), the “Wet Zone” (where getting wet was a matter of luck), and the normal zones.

On the whole, the whole theme park was a thoughtfully and elaborately designed affair. Aside from featuring the staples of normal amusement parks (albeit window-dressed), like teacups, merry-go-rounds and mascots that have become household names (like Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar characters etc), there were also dances, antique cars and tastefully-decorated street fronts that literally took you across different eras.

From the many souvenir shops, you could hear various soundtrack music, and buy some mementos for keepsake (such as Oscar trophies for “Best Boyfriend”).

All in all, it was a well-designed theme park, great for group outings, and even better if you were into movies produced by them. Much applause has to be given to the engineering team who designed the rides, and to the team involved in the aesthetic aspects of the park.

Having said that though, I wonder how a local Member of Parliament could say that being unable to take her parents there was her greatest regret in life. There are certainly more things in life than visits to amusement parks, no matter how much fun they contained.

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Written by aweirdlittlebird

July 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized