Universal Studios Singapore tips to make the most of your visit, especially with kids
Families traveling to Singapore with kids most definitely want to visit Universal Studios. If you are like me, you might be a little overwhelmed (understatement) on how to go about this amusement park in one day, how to navigate the crowds and give your children a good time.
For first time visitors to Singapore, Universal Studios Singapore (USS) is located in Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island. USS has 24 rides and shows in 7 themed zones and it is worthwhile keeping a day aside to visit here. You can come back to Sentosa on another day to catch the rest of the attractions. (I shall be sharing these details in another post. ) The destination for both USS and Sentosa attractions is the same. I am stating this clearly here as it was pretty confusing for me when I started planning the trip.
My friend who traveled with her kids in the middle of last year stayed for a couple of days inside Resorts World Sentosa itself for easy access to the amusement park and the other island attractions. But on peak holidays, the hotel rates are way too expensive (For December 2017, it was around INR35,000 per night). Unless you are hardcore amusement park addicts, it may feel a bit too overwhelming to stay inside the park. We did perfectly fine staying at the city centre and traveling to the island on both days.
Must I absolutely visit Universal Studios Singapore?
From what I read during my research before planning our trip, many people on Tripadvisor have said that if you have visited the ones in Orlando or LA , then you can give it a miss. We haven’t visited either of them and the primary reason for our Singapore trip was to give our son a memorable holiday so we had to include USS in our agenda.
How to reach Universal Studios Singapore?
You can go via MRT to Harbour Front Station, change to the Sentosa Express and alight at the Waterfront Station.
We stayed in Hotel Mandarin Orchard on Orchard Road. USS was less than 15 minute cab ride from Orchard Road (~15 SGD on Grab Cabs). Cabs drop off at the Casino point from where you take an escalator that exits at the USS entrance.
USS can also be reached by Cable Car and Bus.
Here are 15 tips to make the most of your trip to Universal Studios Singapore
1. Buy the passes online in advance. This is a no brainer, but it is my duty to tell you anyway. There are a few options where you can buy the Universal Studios passes online, some even with a discount.
-Directly on their websites
-Bundled offer with Sentosa Fun Pass
– Apps like Klook that offer discounted rates
Mastercard has a 10% discounted rate of SGD68 per adult ticket so check that out if you have a Mastercard. Ensure you carry the card used to book the tickets to the vending counters, because they will be verified along with the email confirmation on phone (or print out) before giving you the tickets.
2. DO NOT go here on a holiday or weekends – Again a no brainer and it has been written about on every website. Despite that, we said “we’ll take our chances” and deeply regretted not having stuck to the rule. So do as I say and don’t do as we did. We went on Xmas day thinking no one in their right mind will celebrate Xmas in an amusement park. Oh, HOW wrong we were! Avoid local school holidays in March, June, September and December if possible. The one consolation was that the vibe was amazingly festive all around. Small mercies indeed!
3. Plan your date of visit – Use this calendar to check days on which the park stays open for longer. The calendar will also tell you if any special events like fireworks or Hollywood Parade is happening on that day, which you may want to catch.
4. Do your homework – Download the brochure from the website and take a look at the rides, shows, street entertainment and meet & greet sessions available. Depending on your kids’ ages and liking, you may want to choose what is doable for your family. Some rides have a minimum/maximum height allowance so it is good to be aware of these details and plan accordingly. Once you enter, grab the day’s specials sheet (a white piece of paper) that tells you the timings of the special shows, meet and greet etc.
5. Don’t bother going in without an Express pass – Of all the Universal Studios Singapore tips, this one needs highlighting. You will literally see your hair turn grey as you wait (and wait and wait and wait)in the queues. Serpentine is not a good enough adjective to describe the queues for the rides here. I was joking how the USS pass is just a permit to queue up and not a means to get the actual ride. The express pass (base price 30SGD for one time ride and 50SGD for unlimited times in that day) has dynamic pricing, so try and get it early on. On the day we were there 25 December, it was more than the cost of the ticket itself ie SGD70 and on the next day i.e. 26 Dec it was SGD80- so check it online and if possible book this online in advance.
6. What to wear and carry – The weather is mostly hot and there’s a lot of walking to do. So wear light, cotton clothes and really comfy shoes. I did spot tourists in uncomfortable high heels and leather jackets, and it I made a mental note of sharing on my blog to dress comfortably.
Carry a refillable water bottle. There are quite a few water filling stations around the park, so you can make use of that. Save your money and the environment at the same time.
There’s a lot of walking to do inside and even more standing, so a heavy bag is bound to make you very tired. Carry just the essentials. Most rides that need you to leave your bags out have a free locker service for the duration of the ride.
8. Reach early – Even though the park opens at 10 am, it is worth reaching by 9 am, so you are ahead in the queue and can cut down on the wait for at least the first ride. If you bought your tickets online, you will need to get the paper tickets from the counters near the Waterfront station.
Go in as soon as gates open and line up at the ride that is a must do for you. I would totally recommend that you run over to the Transformers queue as fast you can. It is the best one there is.
9 . Must do ride – This is hands down the Transformers ride in the Sci-Fi City We went here first and I’m so glad that we did. I’m afraid of roller coasters but this virtual reality kind of ride was a once in a lifetime experience. I would totally do it again if it wasn’t for the 1 hour+ waiting time.
10. Other good rides / attractions – Shrek 4D show was really good. I will not give away the details and spoil your surprise, but is totally worth it. We went here immediately post lunch and got lucky with a 15 minute queue. The Steven Spielberg show had hardly any queue and it was a brilliant experience.
The roller coasters (Sci-Fi City – Battlestar Galactica Human and Cylon) are huge attractions here so unless you have the express card be prepared to queue up for an hour at least.
11. Ride to avoid – Totally avoid the Accelerator, unless your very young children will enjoy going in it. Waiting in queue for 45 mins for this ride was the worst possible waste of time. If you have been on the cup and saucer ride for babies in Disneyland, this is the same thing with a different external avatar.
12. Lunch time rush – Plan your rides in such a way that you eat lunch before 12 noon or after 2.30pm. The lunch places get so crowded that it is impossible to find a table, especially during holiday season. There are 15 dining options including a Starbucks in the Universal Studios.
We ate at the Discovery Food Court known for its local cuisine as it came highly recommended on some of the blogs I read while researching. The queues for getting the trays and for making the payments were mind boggling but the food was good with decent portion sizes.
The Vegetarian Noodles dish was excellent. The Laksa and Haianese Chicken dish are very popular here. I got myself a seasonal hot chocolate at the Starbucks just before leaving as I needed that refuelling after an exhausting day. Check your day pass or tickets for any food discounts. Some of the diners next to me had a whopping SGD10 discount on a dish worth SGD15.
Bonus insider tip – Buy disposable ponchos at SGD5 for a pack of 3 at Watsons pharmacy (near the restrooms and ATMs). The Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure sells disposable ponchos made out of flimsy plastic for SGD5 a piece or you end up paying SGD5 for use of the drying pod in case you get drenched on this water ride. There’s not a big worry about getting drenched on this ride. Only one out of the 6 people sitting in the boat gets wet, and in our boat, no prizes for guessing who it was. Yours truly indeed. Getting drenched was not a big deal as the Singapore sun dries you out quickly. You can also stock up on bottles of water, sunscreen, chilled Milo for kids and other essentials at the pharmacy.
13. Additional info – You can rent a stroller for your young children at the entrance, both single and double strollers are available. The park is disabled friendly and all places inside the park are accessible to visitors on wheel chairs. The entire park has wifi access.
14. Shopping – I personally am not a fan of mugs and random plastic memorabilia from amusement parks. There are ride / show specific shops as you exit out of most of them, but if you ask me it is best not waste time shopping after each ride. There is a big shop at the entrance where you can shop once you are done with the rides.
15. Heading back – If you are used to taking Grab Cabs around Singapore, it is a bit of a long wait to get one from the parking bay, same point as you were dropped off but a couple of bays further. It is better to queue up for the regular blue cab.
Universal Studios Singapore is a fun day for the kids and adults who love amusement parks or theme parks. It’s best to be forearmed to make the most of your day here!