Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to enjoy USS when it is raining?

When it comes to rain, all that I hear are complaints. From TripAdvisor to Theme Park Review and every blog in between, rain seems like the ultimate nemesis that devours all enjoyment you can find at Universal Studios Singapore. However, is that really true?

In my over 20 trips to USS, I encountered rain of all manners and intensities, thunder and lightning and scorching sun. I can assure you that there are ways to enjoy USS even while it is raining. In this blog post, as inspired from a friend, I will show you how in this rather long post. Let me get this straight, this blog post is to guide you what to do to make the most of a rainy day. I am not trying to tell you to search for a rainy day to go USS.

Dark Clouds loom over the new Puss in Boots Roller Coaster at USS. Its time to take shelter!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Top 5 New Attractions in Singapore 2015

2015 is a significant year in Singapore's history. It is Singapore's 50th Birthday! With over 15 million visitors a year (Source: STB) and tourist receipts worth over $23.5billion, tourism and attractions is definetely an important part of Singapore economy. This year, there will be several new attractions. But before we begin, let us have a look at some attractions that opened in 2014:

The 2015 Lineup of new attractions is relatively balanced with new offerings for families, academics and nature lovers alike. Here is the list of the top 5. All concept art images courtesy of the respective attractions and The Straits Times.

5) 3 New Roller Coasters, USS

Well, 2 of them are not exactly new. There has been much speculation about the return date of Battlestar Galactica Roller Coaster but RWS promised that it will be early this year. As part of the attraction review, there are some significant changes to the ride experience such as new trim brakes at strategic locations, a faster launch (maybe due to lighter trains) and most significantly, new seating configuration for the trains.

Now, both Cylon and Human are being tested though they are tested one side at a time

The third Roller Coaster is definetely new. Puss in Boots and the Giant Journey is a suspended swinging coaster that has been under construction since June last year. The landscaping looks not bad now that the construction is done and lets keep our fingers crossed that it will live up to the Universal brand.

Construction of Puss in Boots and the Giant Journey is complete as of 4 Jan 2014

4) National Gallery Singapore

Nested at the former Supreme Court building, this 64000 square meter complex will focus on Southeast Asian Art from the 19th century to the present day. National Gallery Singapore actually is one of major national highlights in 2015, alongside the SG50 series of community events and South East Asian Games. It is aimed to strengthen Singapore’s role as a regional and inter­na­tional hub for visual arts.

National Gallery exterior concept art.
Concept art for the interior shows a much more modern design than existing museums like the Asian Civilisations Museum.

This museum sports a modern interior.

3) Costa Sands Resort, Downtown East

This iconic chalet in the heartlands of Singapore is popular among young locals, particularly students. It is the site of many class, interest group and company outings and is part of the Downtown East lifestyle center which includes extensive dining and shopping options as well as a water park.

Since 2012, construction was underway for a new Costa Sands Resort that will feature more rooms and more extensive recreational facilities. This will also free up new land for an expansion of Wild Wild Wet water park. However, the resort seems to be very hotel like, with mid-rise accomodation blocks. This means barbequing just outside the hotel room, a favourite pasttime for this resort, will be lost.

Concept model showing new Costa Sands Downtown East (right) and Wild Wild Wet Expansion (left)

2) Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve expansion

Most people will not view Singapore as a nature lover's paradise, but there are still pockets of outdoors left to explore. Among them is Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, a wildlife reserve that showcases the tropical mangrove habitat. This 202 hectare park got a makeover in December 2014 which includes new boardwalks, observation platforms and an upgraded visitor's center.

Concept art by CPG Architects.

Actual photo of new viewing gallery taken by The Straits Times

As with all of Singapore's wildlife attractions, the structures are made of natural materials whenever possible and is designed to blend well with the environment. Unfortunately, few tour groups if any offer tours to this beautiful attraction, so getting there will be quite a challenge.

1) Kidzania Singapore

There has been a recent shift towards more family friendly attractions in Singapore, from the massive Sesame Street expansion in USS to the opening of Port of Lost Wonder at Sentosa in 2013. Now, Singapore is going 1 step further with the opening of Kidzania in April 2015. This iconic family edutainment center will allow kids to role play as adults and live and work like in a real city.

In fact, Kidzania is only 1 part of a larger family entertainment center which will include some dining and retail outlets and possibly other indoor family oriented attractions. This is a good addition as it gives kids an insight into careers at an early age allowing them to consider and work towards their desired futures. After all, playing is the most effective form of learning.

Currently, the nearest Kidzania is at Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and it is well received by locals and Singaporeans alike.


This list is not meant to be exhaustive. There are many other new attractions such as the new Cable Car in Sentosa, and possibly many others that are still not announced yet (after all, Trick Eye Museum was only announced in March 2014, 3 months before opening). Let's keep watch and hope that more exciting new attractions await us in 2015 and beyond.