Following on my tour through the Madagascar, Far Far Away and the Lost World regions of Universal Singapore, the of my write-up of my trip to park covers the last two sectors of the park, which are home to my personal favorite park sectors the best rides in the theme park.
Ancient Egypt region
The Ancient Egypt section of the park despite being one of the smallest sectors is one of the prettiest-looking themed areas of the park. Set in the region of Egypt in the midst of the 1930 excavation treasure hunt, you see several precast Anubis and towering pillars dotted all around this sector. The section looks even more spectacular at night, as the rows of Anubis statues are accentuated by surrounding lights, giving the area a nice surreal look. Entertainers here include heroes from the Mummy return movie, the scorpion king, as well as the army of Anubis.
The ride selection of here however is very limited given the small sector space with only under 100m of walkway length and only food kiosks to boot, presumably just only to cater for the Revenge of the mummy ride, which the major ride highlight here. An Egyptian tomb building flaunts the face of this park sector, with the main entrance to the Revenge of the mummy ride leading you into the hidden ride studio area where the indoor coaster resides.
The Revenge of the Mummy ride here in Singapore is a steel launcher roller coaster made by Premier Rides, based on the American design with a modern take of the tried and tested custom dark ride first conceived in Universal Florida, but built at half the price (~$20M) given production improvements. The version here in Singapore still uses the same pre-ride animatronic intro area with movie elements before launching you into both forward and reverse movements and two high speed elements (up to 72km/hr)and helixes through the main studio, complete with track lighting and piped audio music on the train seats itself. Improvements include better end-ride pyrotechnics in the “fire chamber”. The 2:30 minute long ride still retains the American “archeological dig” queue line design (which is thankfully air-conditioned), and similar dual loading and unloading areas designed to handle. Surprisingly on a weekend, the queue lines are largely empty (5 minutes wait), with more time actually spent zipping through the snaking waiting areas. The ride similarly exits into a gift shop, selling several Egyptian trinkets and wares of the trade.
Treasure Hunters mini car ride is a vintage car ride themed to run around a sandy archeological site, which the entire themed region is based largely off. The ride does bare some uncanny resemblance of being an idea completely lifted right off the Genting highland theme park old vintage car ride, come to think about it.
Sci-Fi City sector
Sci-fi city comprises of an indoor area connecting back to the New york sector and an outdoor portion facing the park lagoon. Two world-class rides reside in the Sci-fi city sector of the park. This sector of the park is predominantly taken up by the intertwining blue and red tracks of the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster- two Vekoma dueling steel roller coasters in both inverted and sit-down format. Each coaster side represents the main opposing fractions of the Battlestar Galatica universe (Cylon and Human) and are linear induction motor (LIM) launched straight from the coaster station, which goes with the “space launch” theme and eliminates the need of a traditional chain-based hill ascend. I had always longed for a world-class roller coaster which Singapore can proudly call their own, and this might be it.
History of the Universal Studios Singapore Battlestar Galactica: Human vs Cylon roller coasters
The Battlestar Galactica roller coaster, despite being a key attraction of the park didn’t fare well in the early years of its launch. While Vekoma (a Dutch coaster maker) is arguably one of the best sit-down coaster makers in the industry (Vekoma also invented the corkscrew coaster), the initial Battlestar Galactica coaster trains, particularly the HUMAN coaster was reported to have cracks on the seat posts, with the faster and more intense CYLON coaster plagued by several technical issues such as excessive vibration. There were even rumors that the trains even had parts shaking off from the trains on-ride (though not publicly verified). I remembered riding on the front and rear of the old trains back before 2012 and noticed excessive vibrations, especially on the rear seats, which felt like an unsolved damping issue either with train weight creating resonance on some corners of the track. The coaster was closed for almost a year following an extensive technical review of the 4-row coaster trains and eventual replacement of the original trains to newer lighter 2-row coaster trains on early 2015.
Whether Genting can claim damages from Vekoma for downtime and revenue loss for the downed ride is still largely under the wraps. But it was puzzling why Swiss roller coaster maker Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) was not chosen for the dueling coasters- an obvious choice given their experience and good track-record of their inverted and 4 in row-floorless roller coasters. We can possibly guess that Vekoma could had chosen given Genting’s leverage and past working relationships with the Dutch coaster maker on their Malaysian parks, and that B&M coaster tracks are not as space-efficient and compact as Vekoma‘s to fit into the tight confines of the Sci-fi park sector.
Having said that, Battlestar Galactica: Human vs Cylon is a very well designed roller coaster with efficient use of above-ground space, lagoon space and dug-in elements to house the compact ride. I had the opportunity to ride on both the old and new trains for comparison and the improvements are good. The Human coaster is a more “family-friendly” sit down coaster which follows a traditional closed circuit. It is much faster now, thanks to lighter trains with the reduced train capacity. Of the two coaster, the Human coaster still maintains the highest first drop after the hill launch with the best airtime (best experienced at the last train row) and zips through the bends and ending helixes noticeable faster now, adding more to the ride excitement factor as opposed to the older slower HUMAN trains before the upgrade, which struggled and lumbered to complete the circuit.
The CYLON is the more intense coaster starting with an inverted boomerang after the first drop, two barrel rolls and 2 complete vertical loops, with one going into a half-dug-in tunnel. The inverted coaster itself has a reasonable amount of airtime on the inversions and a healthy ride length with good excitement rating, raring riders to go through more inversions without the high intensity (which makes riders nauseous). The new CYLON trains are not necessarily faster, but a lot smoother now thanks to improved wheels on the new trains. Also, it is not until you had been on the coaster where you appreciate how nicely planned the dense and inter-winding the coasters are, yet without sacrificing ride length. This is definitely a world-class roller coaster Singapore can proud of.
Flat rides in Sci-fi city sector includes the Accelerator, essentially a modern take of the traditional spinning tea cup ride. It is located beside the sector’s food court (Starbot food court) which serves pretty good desserts. The other ride highlight here in Sci-fi city will be the Transformers ride. It is an indoor dark ride with a theme based on the Hasbro toy franchise with flavors of Michael Bay movie elements. The ride employs hydraulically controlled 6-axis gondola cars traversing a fixed track layout through several fixed scenes of the dark ride studio; its technology is based off the similar Amazing Spiderman ride in Orlando Islands of Adventure. A combination of 3D and 2D cinematic scenes as well as water and pyrotechnic effects were used to tell the ride storyline throughout the dark ride.
Coming out of Sci-fi city brings you back through the New York and Hollywood stretches of the theme park again in a loop. In all, you will be good for an entire day at Universal Studios Singapore, with rides suitable for both the young and old. With the park closing in the evening, you will be left with plenty of time in the evening to catch the outdoor performances, attractions and dinner in Resort world region after your visit.
Check out more photos of Universal Studios Singapore here.