Monday, July 27, 2015


Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore.
Theme parks have changed a lot since I was a kid. Much of the change has been around technology, the Disney people doing some incredible end-to-end, near-field, auto-payment, ride-scheduling spookiness, collecting lots of juicy data along the way - a transaction that seems OK to everyone.

But the most visible change for me, is the advent of digital There is a XX minute wait for this ride signage. Having recently spent a day at the very excellent Universal Studios Singapore I can attest to their accuracy. The suggested 60-minute wait for the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure was absolutely bang-on. Even with the straight-to-the-front-of-the-line VIP ticket holders regularly slipping past us, we awaited an hour virtually to the second.

We passed that hour, my son & I, with a bit of a chat about this and that, we messed about with my phone, took pictures of whimsical Jurassic signage, pondered whether or not we should have purchased inexpensive ponchos from the vending machines, and wondered aloud about what T-Rex and the other rogue lizards had in store for us once we set off downstream aboard our raft. It was all pretty painless and convivial.

Universal Studios Singapore
Getting our Jurassic on at Universal Studios Singapore.

But what happens when the ride you're queuing for is too scary for your wee companion, so vigorous that you're not allowed to carry a phone or a watch with you, yet so popular that there's a 70-minute wait? What then?

Well, as you shuffle a step or two through the endless queuing maze every few minutes in semi-darkness, it all gets a bit...weird.

Step, step, wait. Dramatic audio loops and repeats. Step, step, wait. Look forward. Look back. Reach for phone. Wince. Step, step, wait. Maze turns back on itself. Step, step, wait. Dramatic audio loops and repeats. The snake of people twists and turns in slow motion. Step, step, wait. Step, step, wait. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It's kind of a drag and then - after how long, I can't possibly know as I have no watch - all of a sudden it's not. We're a long way in, with some unknown portion of the original 70-minute journey ahead of us. Like a rigorous meditation, I'm now observing my breath and maybe even my mind, and the dramatic audio being piped into the room of the snaking people has a chant-like quality to it.

At some point, I find myself being guided to one of a pair of seats at the very back of maybe 8 other pairs dangling from an overhead rail like some mutant chairlift readying for a lightspeed journey to another place. Strapped in snugly, and slowly rumbling up an incline seemingly without end my mind is pleasantly awash with zen-like thoughts...

I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.

As we crest the rise I even breathe deep and let go. I think I even hear Ghandi say There is more to life than increasing its speed.

What's happening to me?

A fraction of a second later we're being hauled violently from a tremendous height into a void beneath our wildly swinging feet. I gasp.

Ghandi didn't know what he was talking about.

Universal Studios Singapore
Main Street, Universal Studios Singapore.


Universal Studios Singapore is an excellent day out even with the long queues. It was a real highlight of our stopover in Singapore, providing many laughs, some good food and a pair of happy kids.

It's an impressive set-up in a huge integrated, island-sized leisure complex home to some terrific attractions for kids and just the right amount of terrifying rides for grown-ups.


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