Universal Studios Singapore is located in the heart of Singapore’s fully integrated attraction-filled island, Sentosa Resorts World. Within the past few years, the island has fully transformed from unoccupied space to a fully realized tourist getaway, and Universal occupies a large part of that space. Much like the rest of the island, sans the casino, the resort is primarily dedicated towards family entertainment and Universal is no different.

Much like its bigger brethren in the states, Universal Studios Singapore presents a multitude of rides and attractions dedicated toward the studio’s most popular filmography. The park has seven zones dedicated to popular films and entertainment, including Jurassic Park (Lost World), Transformers (Sci-Fi City), The Mummy (Ancient Egypt), Shrek (Far Far Away), Sesame Street (New York), and Madagascar. Also, the park’s layout resembles a smaller version of its predecessors, so don’t expect to see a Hollywood backlot, the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield, Men in Black, or the Hogwarts Express.

27764_635429926507_7862757_nUniversal Studios Singapore has a lot to offer that is unique from its counterparts, so those who have visited the U.S. parks will most definitely experience something new.   Those U.S. tourists expecting typical park food fare (burgers, hotdogs, ribs) will be surprised to see much more local offerings at each vendor. You may pass a street food vendor in Jurassic Park offering Bento Box meals or walk into an eatery selling shrimp tempura, poached salmon, satay, or various Chinese or Cantonese plates. Now for those that survive off of American style food, your best bet is still the reliable Mel’s Drive In, which is a staple of Universal parks.

Exclusive to the park is the spectacular looking Madagascar, sporting a massive recreation of the freighter from the first film. The freighter itself houses the “Crate Adventure”, a toddler friendly water ride that covers the events of the first animated feature. Those looking to get wet in any capacity will be disappointed and, actually, the only adult thrill that the ride actually provides is the potential CHANCE of getting wet.

10867075_10101337775559187_1462296808_nThe Far Far Away zone extends the Shrek experience beyond what is offered stateside, including a recreation of Fiona’s kingdom. You’ll see a banner advertising Fairy Godmother’s ability to make wishes come true and even an in-memoriam statue of the “Frog King”. The area is also scheduled to open a new child friendly ride called “Puss in Boots Giant Journey”, scheduled to open…eventually.

The Jurassic Park River Adventure also has a new and different twist beyond its American counterparts. Rather than simply being a front facing water slide drop, your raft will know enter an elevator towards the final climax of the ride. When the (spoiler) Tyrannosaurus attacks from the roof of the elevator, the raft drops sideways down the slide to end the ride.

While the park is definitely clean and the buildings and movie recreations are certainly loyal to the material and colorful, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to elevate the experience overall.   Let’s start off with the thrill seekers. Most of the rides at Universal are family friendly, so you will be more likely to find rides that your little kindergartener can ride with you rather than something you can raise your arms in anticipation of a large drop. Even the upcoming Puss and Boots ride is family friendly coaster.

27764_635429911537_4606138_nBattlestar Galactica is a rollercoaster that very much resembles the “Dueling Dragons” ride that was once located at Universal Studios Orlando. Unfortunately, the ride, since the park’s initial opening in 2011, has mostly been closed for “attraction review”. I have been to the park a number of times over the years and Battlestar Galactica appears to elude the general public. Considering this is the only “rollercoaster” besides The Mummy, it’s definitely disappointing that this thrill ride never seems to see the light of day.

The constant closure of Battlestar Galactica brings up another concern, dead zones. Universal has a dedicated area for the ride, complete with food vendors and Galactica gift shop, but the ride and accompanying area is otherwise “dead”. Shrek’s swamp home, which one would assume could be used for character meet and greets, is left unused and blocked off. And, maybe even appropriately so, it’s located outside the Far Far Away gates. The Far Far Away zone, which will hopefully become more active once the Puss and Boots ride opens, has a virtually dead street corner of decorative shops and false buildings.

10857748_10101205185755217_5935562403240079925_nThe single worst aspect of the entire park must be their customer service areas, mainly their front desk for handing out season passes. Located at the front of the park, there are two customer service buildings that handle very different services, yet do not accurately label their different purposes to bystanders. Are you choosing to purchase your season passes online or in-person in front of the park? Well, despite the fact that there are multiple ticket kiosks in front of the park, none of them handle anything besides single day purchases. You will have to “upgrade” any of your tickets inside the customer service area once you enter into the park. Which customer service area is not identified. Even if the park is otherwise completely empty, you are guaranteed a length wait (most likely an hour or more) in this “Twilight Zone”.  What’s worse is that the line directly conflicts with waiting areas for Lost and Found and the Baby Care Area, making things much more complicated and noisier than they should be.

Despite the negatives, the park is still a good time for families and an worthy excursion for locals and tourists alike. The park has started to gain traction with holiday events, adding new shows and decorations to take advantage of Christmas, Easter, Halloween and more. Even better is that the park showcases memorabilia from the latest film release, so currently the cars from the movie “Fast and Furious 7” are currently on display in the park (along with a Vin Diesel wax figure).

I give Universal Studios Singapore three family friendly stars out of five.