Day 1 Singapore – Universal Studios and Waterfront

Even though we just got to Singapore the previous night (Thursday), we wanted to get Universal Studios out of the way before the weekend began and the crowds started to surge. We are fans of Universal’s animated movies and this theme park was one of the high priority attractions on our list. Universal Studios Singapore was also the most expensive attraction that we would visit during our entire trip (SGD 76 per person!). We woke up early and I checked the weather forecast. If the weather was good, then the plan was to go to Universal while if it would rain, then we had other alternatives lined up. The National Environment Agency website is the best place to check for weather forecasts and updates while you are in Singapore. I was happy to see that the weather for the day was expected to be clear. So, we were off to Sentosa. Universal Studios is located on Sentosa Island and you have to take the Sentosa Express train, taxi, or a cable car to get there from the main island. You can even walk there if you have time and want to enjoy the views from the bridge. We were advised to get to Universal by 9:30 am. This is important because the gates at the park open at 10 am and you would want to enter at 10 am. If you go at 11 am or later, then the lines for the famous rides will be quite long by then. This advice applies for any weekday visit. Weekends and public holidays would be a whole different ball game altogether.

Before we took the MRT to Harbourfront, we wanted to eat some quick breakfast. It was going to be a long day after all, so might as well eat something. We did not opt for the overpriced breakfast at the hotel. So, Syed Alwi road was the only option for decent vegetarian breakfast. Even at 8 am, almost all the breakfast places on Syed Alwi were closed, except one – CMK 2001. It is a quick-serve Udipi-like restaurant on the corner of Kampong Kapor Rd and Syed Alwi. The food there was nothing to rave about. It was pretty ordinary, and the white coconut chutney tasted a bit stale. I ordered a plain dosa with some filter coffee.

CMK 2001 Singapore

                                                                              (breakfast at CMK 2001)

After breakfast, we headed to Farrer Park and took the purple line to Harbourfront. The Harbourfront station is located at Vivo City Mall. Upon reaching, we simply followed the signs and took the escalators all the way up to level 3. From there, we took the Sentosa Express train to Waterfront Station. We were able to use our EZ link cards to get into the Sentosa Express (SGD 4 per person). The views from the train while we were crossing the water were excellent. If we had the time and energy, we would definitely walk to Sentosa Island from Vivo City. A photographer would love the views from the bridge connecting the two islands. We had started to notice increasing crowds as we got to Vivo City, but by the time we reach Universal, it was full of foreign tourists like ourselves. There were families, single travelers, and large tour groups from multiple countries.

After alighting at Waterfront station, we headed straight to the ticket counter outside Universal Studios. Luckily, there is no queue at the ticket counter and we were done buying tickets in no time. There were multiple lines at the entrance gates. We stood in the one which appeared to be the shortest and then waited for about 30 mins. The line of people behind us kept growing longer and longer as time went by. At around 9:50 am, the Universal folks started to rev up the crowd. A couple of characters dressed as cartoons started running around and waving at the people. One family was selected to “open the day”. This family is randomly selected every morning before opening time. As the clock hit 10 am, the gates were opened and off we went.

Universal Singapore entrance

                                       (a mini-show before opening of the gates at Universal Singapore)

We had read online about tips to get the most out of a Universal Studios day-trip. One advice (wicaxon on tripadvisor has written an excellent guide) was to head straight to Transformers ride first up. This is a 4D ride and it has pretty long queues. So, we took a shortcut behind Mel’s Drive-In by walking along the lake and we were at the Transformers ride in no time. The ride was excellent and a must do. After that, we walked across the street and went on one of the two famous Battlestar roller coasters. There is a red one (Human) and a white one (Cyclone). The red one is a roller coaster with your feet on the floor while the white one has no floor! Your feet literally hang in the air. The white one is also more intense if you are an adventure junkie. We went on the red one since we consider ourselves humble humans. Before going on the roller coaster, we had to put all our stuff in a locker. Finding the locker area was a little tricky as it was located around the corner from the entrance to the red coaster. The lockers let you keep your stuff for 45 mins after which you need to pay money to get your stuff back out. We took around 30 mins to complete the ride.

The Battlestar Human was pretty exciting and intense. Our heads were spinning a bit and we had no motivation to go on the Cyclone (white coaster). So, we decided to move on and head to our next ride, which was the Mummy. This ride was located in an area called “Ancient Egypt”, which was right next to the roller coasters. Since we had entered the park early, we benefited from very small queues at the Mummy. We finished the ride in 20 mins. It was also a great ride, with a roller coaster that moved in complete darkness for a few seconds.

Battlestar Coasters At Universal Singapore

                       (Battlestar Human and Cyclone Coasters At Universal Singapore and Ancient Egypt to its left)

Walking on from Ancient Egypt, we entered the Lost World. Here, we went for the Rapids Adventure ride. This ride is a water ride and you will get wet partially (or sometimes more). There was a bit of a queue here since we went there around 11:30 am. The ride itself was pretty amazing, with a circular boat that moves around a river-like set up with plenty of splashes and sprays to keep you on your guard. The grand finale was the boat rolling down a slope before you get splashed with water. One cool thing at the exit of the Rapids Adventure was a place to dry yourself. Universal Studios has set up two booths with hot air blowing in them. You can stand inside with your arms stretched and the hot air will help dry your clothes.

It was about 12 noon by the time we were done with Rapids Adventure. One more famous ride in the Lost World area was the Canopy Flyer. It had a wait time of 25 mins and there was no single rider option. We decided to go for it and then get lunch after the ride. That way, we would be done with the Lost World area and would not have to come back again. The Canopy Flyer ride was nothing special and a bit of a letdown. After experiencing the Battlestar Human roller coaster, the Canopy Flyer was like child’s play.

By 1 pm, we had finished visiting Transformers, Ancient Egypt, and Lost World. These three areas have the most adventurous and intense rides with the longest queues. Universal Studios is designed as a circular loop. After you enter, you can either go left or right. If you go right, you will experience what we did. If you go left, then you will reach all the rides which are more oriented towards kids. The right side is the adventure stuff, while the left side is the family/kids stuff.

For lunch, we had a few vegetarian options at the park. One was at Ancient Egypt called Oasis Spice Cafe. This place had Indian food available. But we were not too keen on eating biryani and dal. So, we instead went to Mel’s Drive-In for some burgers and fries. The walk from Lost World to Mel’s was pretty good as we took a bridge along the water and the fountain. We got a nice view of the two roller coasters from this path. There was quite a bit of crowd when we reached Mel’s. No veggie burger was visible on the menu, but when we asked the server, they did have the vegetarian option. We just had to ask for it. The server said that because it is a veggie burger, it will take about 15 mins. We were ok with that. While waiting for our burgers to arrive we began searching for vacant tables. That was a very challenging task indeed. We finally found one after a few minutes of walking around. The burgers arrived after 20 mins and were pretty good. They had black-coloured buns! The burgers at Mel’s normally come with a serving of fries. However, this is something which we did not know before ordering. Hence, we ordered some cheesy fries as an extra side. We ended up with lots of fries as a result. But the cheese sauce was really tempting and we did not regret ordering extra fries.

Battlestar Coasters At Universal Singapore

                                                           (walking to Mel’s along the lake and fountain)

Water Fountain Universal Studios Singapore

                                          (beautiful shot of a water fountain while walking along the lake)

Veggie Burger at Mel's Universal Singapore

                                                          (veggie burger and cheesy fries at Mel’s Drive-In)

While having lunch, we were able to see through the window one of the many shows that happen around the park throughout the day. The one we saw was Mel’s Dinettes. Watching that show reminded us that there were more shows scheduled during the afternoon. We picked a few that we could watch. Whenever you go to Universal Singapore, make sure you watch 2 or 3 of these shows. They are well worth watching. After lunch, we headed to Shrek-4D, which was located in an area called Far Far Away. This entire area is modeled similar to Shrek’s Castle. It is a great place to take pictures. The 4D ride was also quite good. It is a short 4D movie where you watch a 3D movie and your seats move during the show. The 4D ride is a decent thing to do post lunch, as you would not want to go to roller coasters or moving rides after eating.

Far Far Away at Universal Singapore

                                                                     (walking in the Far Far Away zone)

Shrek's Castle Universal Singapore

                                                                 (Shrek’s Castle looking pretty good)

After the Shrek ride, we headed to the Lost World to catch the Waterworld Show. We just about got there on time. This show was perhaps the best of all the shows at Universal. It is an absolute must. There are plenty of stunts, fireworks, and tricks. If you sit in the front few rows marked in blue, then you get splashed with water. The show was about 20 mins long. After that show, we simply walked around and waited for two more shows. One was a Jurassic World show and the other was the Madagascar Boogie. In between those two shows, we got a chance to “meet and greet” the minions. There was a long line to take a picture with the minions as they were really popular with the crowd.

Meet the Minions Singapore

                                                                             (Minions meet and greet)

Madagascar Boogie Singapore

                                                                               (Madagascar Boogie)

We were done with all the rides and shows at around 5 pm. While walking to catch the Sentosa Express back to the city, we came across a Hershey’s chocolate store which had a giant bar of chocolate dubbed as the “largest chocolate bar in the world”. The Sentosa Express train was crowded on the way back. However, everything was well managed and our return to Vivo City and Singapore main island was hassle-free. Upon returning, we still had some energy left in us to explore the city. So, we went to Raffles Place. The evening weather was beautiful and we got some great pictures. I had not taken any camera for this trip, so all the pictures were taken on my phone. Some of the pictures were quite amazing given that it was a phone camera. We walked past the Fullerton Hotel and found a place to sit next to the famous Merlion.

Fullterton Waterfront Singapore

                                                             (waterfront view near the Fullerton Hotel)

Fullterton Waterfront Bridge Singapore

                                                             (Cavenagh bridge near the Fullerton Hotel)

Marina Bay Sands evening

                                     (the famous building of Singapore looking stunning in the evening light)

Singapore Waterfront night

                                                                        (night views along the waterfront)

Merlion Singapore night

                                                          (the famous lion of Singapore – iconic Merlion)

Singapore night view Waterfront

                                                                      (excellent views on a clear evening)

There is a light and sound show that takes place every evening at 8 pm at the promenade. We did not fancy waiting over an hour and decided to watch the show some other day. We instead headed to Little India for dinner. We headed to one very old restaurant called Komala Vilas. This restaurant is famous for South Indian food. It was about 9 pm when we reached Komala Vilas. The place was absolutely packed as Friday night was a busy time in Little India. People were out shopping and eating. There was an atmosphere of a weekend. Little India felt like a street in Mumbai with cars honking and people everywhere. The tables at Komala Vilas were all occupied. We were asked to sit with a couple who had some empty seats at their table. The food at Komala Vilas was not very good. We ordered a Rassam Vada and Rava Dosa. While the dosa was ok, the vada was not fresh and it was a bit hard. We felt like we should have gone to Gokul or Murugan Idli instead. That ended our first full day in Singapore, and what a long but fun day it had been!

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