Living in a city where fun is often an afterthought, it is refreshing and long due to see the return of large carnival fairgrounds in Singapore. Come the Prudential Marina Bay Carnival. Prudential is proud to be the Title Sponsor of the Marina Bay Carnival, Singapore’s largest games carnival in its inaugural year.
Moreover, Prudential, as the event and title sponsorship aims to underscore the company’s commitment in strengthening their commitment to the Singapore market. Additionally, the event is jointly contributed to with support from partners, Pico Events, URA and the Singapore Tourism Board.
Note worthily, the event fair started a couple months back before December 2017. Unlike most fairs which runs for a couple of weeks, this fair runs till the end of the first quarter of 2018 (End March 2018). Moreover, the fair opens from 4pm to 11pm daily with free admission.
Bringing back a long-forgotten Era
Back in the 90s as a kid, such Euro fun fairs were a common sight in Singapore. That, together with the regionally-based travelling Uncle Ringo Fun Fair was a staple in any HBD heartland open fields.
Sadly, such fair grounds and open fields are all fast disappearing in the face of residential development. Then, these local Fun fairs see a great assortment with plenty of rides. This includes roller coasters, suspended rides called the “Space Cab” as well flat ride staples and bumper cars. Sadly, today, local traveling fairs in Singapore had shrunk to an assortment of pathetic family rides, franked by large mostly tents of Night Markets (Pasir Malam) commercial stores. It is a far cry from the large fairs in the 90s.
Hence, it is nice and heartening to see such much needed fun returning to Singapore, much for the children of today to experience what a local major fun fair is about.
Fun at two Venues by the Marina Bay
The carnival itself is reminiscent of the old heartland fairs of the yesteryears. Here, the carnival is split between two distinct sites. One site is located at the Promontory by the Customs House overlooking the Marina Bay Reservoir.
The other main site is nearer to Marina Bay Sands building. Located at the Bayfront Event Space in between Marina Bay Sands shops and the Red Dot museum. Additionally, you can easily recognize it by the tall green rotating ride called the “Mach 5”, which I shall touch on later.
Gourmet fest at the Promontory
The first and smaller sector of the fairgrounds is the Promontory Gourmet fest. This site houses mostly food stores and game counters. There are few rides here. Also, it is also the temporary home to the popular Star Flyer ride.
The Star Flyer is one of the few most iconic rides in the Promontory. Notably, it is also largely popular with carnival goers here. It is a tame spinning ride on swinging chairs which rises up a vertical spire. At the top, it offers good views overlooking the Marina Bay and reservoir.
There are plenty of food stores here, rows of them here to be exact as well as a variety of Fairground carnival game counters. Food is totally on the pricey side. For instance, a choice of side cheese fires and dishes costing an upwards of $12 to $15 for a small dish. Be expected to spend at least a combination of $30 per person for a dinner here.
You can dine at one of the view open-air benches and standing tables under the night sky. Moreover, at the center of the festivities is a large open stage with scheduled live performances. The event also organizes silent discos, as well as mass exercise events.
A Cashless Carnival
In the Prudential fair, all food, carnival games and rides are all paid for via a cashless RFID card system. Only cash or Nets top-ups are available. Your first top-up have to be a minimum of $10 (10 credits) which includes a free carnival card. Moreover, you can keep the card for subsequent revisits.
Card top-up counters can be found littered all around the fairgrounds. You can buy cards, check or add additional value at any of these kiosks. Cash top-ups have no minimum sum.
Main Carnival Fairground and Games
A short 10 minute stroll via the Marina Bay boardwalk beside the Red Dot museum is the Carnival main fairgrounds. The other and larger site is where most of the Euro fairground rides reside. Greeting you at the entrance is a Jungle Log fume ride, as well as a huge assortment of game counters.
The fairgrounds are also littered with rows and islands of game stores. Here, the assortment here ranges from traditional ring toss, knock the bottles to Shoot’em up western style games. Prices for a try starts at $5, up to $8 for booths with more extravagant prices. Example includes the ring toss with their large glittery fancy dragon stuffed-toy prizes.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see patrons trotting around the grounds with their wins- carrying huge stuff toys or even bags of them. Notably, the fairground toilets are outdoor portable toilets located at the rear of the fairgrounds.
The rides at the Fairgrounds
There is a large healthy assortment of rides in the fairground. It comprises of a combination of family and thrill rides to suit riders of all ages. Highlight thrill rides includes the Mach 5 centrifuge and the Euro Coaster from Italy. However, I noticed you do not get a full selection of typical Euro fair rides. This includes rides like the Ferris Wheel, Enterprise, Top spin, Move It and Frisbee. They could be omitted due to ride intensity and size restrictions.
Interesting, it is also, if not the first time where a transportable log fume ride is operating in Singapore. Called the Jungle River, it is a two tier plunge pool log fume ride. Such water fume rides are traditionally fixed built-up rides, it is one of the few rare interesting travelling fair versions. Additionally, other flat notable rides include a classical slide, Dad Fun Schiff Pirate Ship as well as a traditional Merry-go-round.
A ride range from 5 credits to 10 credits per person per ride. For example, the Bumper cars will set you back $8 per ride, while the Euro Coaster and Mach 5 ride costing on the upper-tier prices of $10 to $14 per ride. But these two rides are easily the favorites, and the ones generating the most screams throughout the night.
Queues are short even on weekends so you have no issues getting on a ride under 5 minutes. This makes the speed passes you can purchase for an additional fee to beat the queues tad bit redundant too.
Mach 5 vertical centrifuge
Mach 5 is a KMG Speed centrifuge vertical spinning ride. It is an extremely common ride in European fairs known for its visual impact and ease of setup.
The ride spins riders sitting 4-across back-to-back in a gondola. There are two gondolas, one located on either end. Furthermore, the ride is mainly a G-force ride, giving you a combination of heights as you sit suspended at the fair as the tallest ride here. It provides a near-sensation of falling and you transverse on the downward part of your ride rotation.
The Euro Coaster
The Euro Coaster ride is a Zyklon Pinfari portable closed circuit fairground coaster. It is instantly recognizable as one of the most common portable coasters around the world. Moreover, it is the largest ride in the fairground, but not necessarily the most intense. The Roller Coaster from Italy is one of the two roller coasters in the park, with the other being the Shark family coaster with a pirate theme. It is however, not as popular.
Additionally, the large ride sits centered in the heart and dominates the center of the park. You can frequently hear the roar of the 4-seater single car coaster rolling along its tracks, often accompanied by screaming patrons.
The roller coaster is your standard with custom coaster trains. The ride layout is very similar to the old Uncle Ringo roller coaster which used to frequent in the heartlands. The coaster starts off with a hill climb right off from the station, followed by the first drop. The ride then transverses a couple of helixes before encountering the second drop, more helixes and a pass-through over the ride station and the last small drop before entering back into the ride station.
Go for a ride on the front seat of the Euro Coaster
It the odd thing is the presence of over-shoulder restraints in the coaster cars which usually signify the presence of a coaster inversion, but strangely, there are no such inverted inversions throughout the Euro Coaster course.
Expensive, but worth the time and visit
All in all, you are good for the entire event for an evening. With its 4pm opening time, you are in a good spot to catch dinner and enjoy a couple of thrill rides. Crowds are generally good, not overcrowded, but could be better. However, a visit is not cheap. Notably, with two roller coaster rides, a beer, food and 1-2 carnival games costing you an excess of $50-70 a person per visit.
Expenditure-wise, in comparison, one could highlight that an entire day of rides in Universal studios with unlimited rides sets you back similarly from $70. Which makes you wonder are you getting much less for your money. However, it really depends on what you are looking for at the event. After all, you are more of less expecting to pay a premium for pretty much an “out-of-country experience” with imported Euro fair rides.
Ultimately, the commercial success of this year’s Prudential event will decide the fate of next year’s event. Back in the 90s, Euro fair rides are comparatively just as expensive too.
I completely enjoyed the carnival, a nice throw back into the old fun fairs and travelling theme parks I enjoyed as a kid. Reminiscent of a fun era long-gone from Singapore today. There is no other better venue to have such a Carnival than right at the Promontory, highly accessible right in the heart of downtown marina bay.
It is definitely an experience hard to beat.
Check out more photos of the event here.