Friday, 4 July 2014

Visually Challenged fan evaluates Universal Studios Singapore

Hi, I'm writing based on my personal view as a person with special needs (visually impaired) when going to theme parks. Basically, so far, as i can remember, i had been to 2 theme parks. One is in Genting and one is USS. Let's not talk about the one at Genting as i do not have much memories about it because i went thereat the age of 12.

Let's talk about my trips over at USS.

As far as i can remember, my first trip to USS was last October. At that time, my sighted friend brought my another visually impaired friend and i there. Both of us did not identify ourselves as VIs so we joined the normal queue. It was fun though while waiting for our turn to go for our ride(s). So ended up we only took a few rides and watched a few shows. But one of the staff there over at one of the rides, actually noticed my group of people and gave us the express queue. Haha.

My Favourite Rides:

    I like this ride is because of the motion that i can experience. Although i can't really see what is display on the screen in front of me, the motion itself is enough for me to enjoy the ride. I remembered we took twice that day? I'll never get tired of it. Its a must for me to ride it whenever i go to USS.
  2. Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase
    It brings back my childhood memories of seeing Elmo, Bigbird etc. Hehe. I classified it as a kiddy ride as there're only bumps here and there.

4 Reasons I think USS is visually impaired friendly

  1. Most rides have alternative entry and exit routes
    If you go up the normal or express queue at Revenge of the Mummy, you will know that it involves some steps. However, there is actually another way up: a lift. In fact, there are 2 rides in USS (Canopy Flyer, Revenge of the Mummy) that provides alternative entry by lifts so I do not have to worry about falling on the steps. Even on rides where steps are inevitable (Enchanted Airways), the crew will help to find routes that reduce the number of steps I pass
  2. Friendly and helpful staff
    Most of the staff here are able to make special arrangements to accommodate someone like me, especially at the loading area. For example, at Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, a team member will hold onto my hand and slowly guide my way out of the ride vehicle (which is a big step), and at Sesame Street they even stopped the boarding travelator to allow me to get on more easily.
  3. Relatively simply park layout
    USS has a simple circular layout so it is very simple for me who cannot read the maps. It is not too difficult to find my way around once I have visited a couple of times. Nonetheless, I do hope that they will add a 3D version of the map where VIs can feel them. Maybe something that will announce the attraction name when we press on them. Haha!
  4. I get to save queue time
    While some people pay to get Universal Express, because most of the barrier free routes follow the express queue, I am entitled to use the Express lane whether I have the Express pass or not. This means that I can ride a lot in a very short time. In fact, in my last visit I took all the major rides in about 3 hours. Find out other ways to save queue time here.
[tip] Try to persuade a friend to come with you. As a VI can bring up to 1-2 other people in the group to ride with him/her in the alternative entrances, it can be a major persuasive factor for some one who does not like queuing

Attractions less suited for Visually Challenged individuals

  1. Waterworld
    Basically, its a show with lots of explosion and other effects. Not so good if you go with someone who can't really describe what's going on.
  2. Monster Rock!
    As for me, i don't really quite like the attraction as its only singing and dancing (and I cannot see any of the dance). But a good place to rest your tired feet after exploring other attractions though.
[tip] You might want to call the shows in general a miss as most of them focus on visual effects. In addition to the 2 above-mentioned, Lights Camera Action and Donkey Live are the other shows.

As for attractions that i'll recommend and suitable for VIs to go are:

  1. Transformers The Ride
    Its an in-door ride which you can experience hot air, water on top of the motion that i'd mentioned earlier on. 
  2. Revenge of the Mummy
    Its also an in-door ride and the 2nd fastest ride besides Battlestar Galactica which was closed down at the moment. There are many non-visual special effects and you can even feel the heat from the fire. Do not worry about falling out of your seat etc. Just hold on tightly to the handle in front of you and just shout as loud as you can because, most of the other riders will be shouting as well. Haha..

Finally, a word of encouragement for all person with special needs is, you can go for all the rides. Just enjoy especially for first timers like me, just don't think too much. Let wherever the ride take you to, just shout if you're scared. And as for shows, just sit back, relax and enjoy!!! Do not worry that its difficult to navigate around the park. Its quite straight forward with ramps or flat grounds. There're a steps too but its very little. And there's lifts in the park built in some of the rides E.G. Revenge of the Mummy. Overall, I really love going there. The staff there are kind, friendly, helpful and ensuring that my friends and i had lots of fun enjoying the rides. And so far, i'd been there more than 5 times and the staff there still remain their standard of customer services towards people with special needs (visually impaired)!!!