Thursday, 18 June 2015

5 Closed Attractions that True Singaporeans Will Miss

Singapore’s 50th birthday is just over a month away. In these 50 years, Singapore has changed so much, building towering skyscrapers and world class attractions. Many older ones are thus left in the dust or demolished. Personally, there are some attractions that will forever remain in my heart, even though they are today just the footnote of history. In fact, this post one of the most emotional I have written for Second Drop Attractions, and any true-blue Singaporean will understand why.

Images of Singapore. Attractions Singaporeans Miss
Images of Singapore is one of many nostalgic attractions that have been replaced. In it's place now are Images of Singapore Live and Madame Tussauds

1) Musical Fountain, Sentosa

Remember the cute monkey Oscar, trying to save Sentooooosa? Located near the old ferry terminal of Sentosa, in the era when the monorail only looped within Sentosa, this is probably one of the best musical fountains I ever watched. There is fire, large fountains, a nice story and the soundtrack is actually superb for Singapore 1990s standards. The attraction also marked the time when many things in Sentosa were free. Yes, this award winning show is free, and the 3000+ seat amphitheatre is usually full every weekend.

©Yilun Tours. Remember this beautiful sight, under the setting sun with the graceful fountains and elegant music?

Currently, the Musical Fountain is replaced by the paid show Wings of Time. While the new show has excellent special effects and a great setting, it just lacks the depth of story and purity of the original musical fountain. For one, the days when we will sit with a picnic dinner on the bench seats an hour before the show begins is over. The good old days of standing at the aisles when all the seats are full are over. Guess what is located at the exact spot where Musical Fountain once stood? You guessed it: The Casino!

2) Barbecue and Nightlife at Marina South

I remembered in the old days, when there was a row of Barbecue Steamboat restaurants at Marina South. An adult “ticket” costs merely $12 and the menu includes chilli crab, fresh prawns, and lots of meats and vegetables (ironic that I said that, I did not eat vegs then). There were also huge arcades, a bowling alley and some night clubs, all at very competitive prices. Those more outdoor will remember kite flying on the giant field opposite the arcades – I learnt how to fly a kite there.

However, what really made this place memorable are the National Day celebrations. Every 5 years, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will hold a huge carnival at the area with many exhibits, shows and, of course, showcasing of SAF equipment. However, the best part is always to sit at the outdoor barbeque restaurants, and enjoying the piping hot food and colourful fireworks, complete with patriotic music blasting. THIS IS HOME, TRULY...

Today, you can still fly kites at the Marina Barrage, and the SAF shifts its carnivals to the F1 pit area just across the bay. However, the barbecues fared worse. When the land was taken back, most of the restaurants were scattered all over Singapore, and few survived past a couple of years. Singapore is a  city renown for great food, but the loss of Marina South destroyed a truly iconic and irreplaceable dining experience.

©Straits TimesThis BBQ Steamboat restaurant in Bugis is similar to the old BBQs of Marina South. While the food is similar, it lacks the nice sea breeze and peaceful, traffic-less atmosphere of the old venue.

3) Big Splash, East Coast Park

©Big SplashBefore Wild Wild Wet and Adventure Cove opened, this was the go to place for big water slides!

This is a tiny waterpark that packs a punch. The concept is so simple: A row of water slides of different steepness and height, a circular lazy river around it. Trust me, the slides here are really intense (some of my friends who took can testify to that). The tallest have 7 storey 45 degree drops and you complete the slides without the protection of inflatables.

Unlike the previous 2 which were replaced by other attractions, Big Splash lost its charm primarily due to the newer swimming complexes. Some complexes, like Choa Chu Kang, Jurong West and Sengkang actually pack water slides comparable to those in the latest water parks. Today, all that remains of this iconic attraction is a couple of restaurants in the building, with the slides still standing: tall and defiant, but they will never be ridden on again.

4) Great World City, Nearby to Orchard Road

Okay, the Great World City shopping centre still stands today and offers a good variety of shopping and entertainment options. However, most Singaporeans of the Pioneer 2nd Generation will remember Great World City for another reason: The first theme park in Singapore. Sorry, this is not the OMG Universal Studios Disney kind of park. There was a ghost train, fun house, a couple of flat rides and family rides, and that’s it.

However, Great World City will remain in the hearts of Singaporeans simply for being the first. During its heyday, it was literally the only attraction available. It is where friendships were forged, memories gained. In fact, the original great world city will inspire several shows, including the movie It’s a Great, Great World (2011) by local director Kelvin Tong and a Great World Cabaret musical (2015) in Resorts World Sentosa.

This is the only attraction in the entire list which I have not experienced in person. However, I have visited similar fairs in Malaysia and I fully understand when such socially significant attractions are taken away from people.

©Wiki MediaThis is the new Great World City, a modern shopping center. This is a far cry from the old one, and unfortunately I am unable to find any good pictures of this iconic attraction. I guess memories of the old Great World City will die with our pioneer generations.

5) Escape Theme Park, Downtown East

This little theme park is known for having the only public Go-Kart tracks in Singapore and the 2 accidents in the indoor roller coaster. In spite of its reputation as a small park, the flat rides (read: spinning rides) are actually more intense that the “High Speed Roller Coasters” at USS. In 2011, the park is closed, partly to accommodate the expansion of Wild Wild Wet water park, but I suspect the opening of USS also has a major impact.

©Sg Club ForumsFlat Rides like this are the staple of the old Escape Theme Park. I think these are far more intense than Revenge of the Mummy/Battlestar Galactica.

With ticket prices below SGD20.00, this Escape Theme Park is actually one of the best value attractions in Singapore. The water ride, Yeo's Wet and Wild was the world's tallest 2 seater log flume when it opened in 2001 and really superb. While the new Wild Wild Wet expansion that replaces it is promising, I could not say the same for the renovated Costa Sands Resorts. The polynesian chalet atmosphere is replaced by a conventional hotel.

Precious life lessons, from a theme park that is all but history. I’m sure we all have many other stories to tell. Why not share your own stories in your comments? And don’t forget to like the Second Drop Facebook Page