Blog by Nicola. I have always loved to travel. Having kids hasn't stopped me, in fact it's my mission to turn them into mini jetsetters!
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In case you hadn’t heard, Singapore has a Universal Studios and it is BRILLIANT. If you’re visiting Singapore with kids age 4 and under, you might want to skip it (don’t worry, there’s loads of other great attractions). For anyone older, plan a day in your schedule and head to Sentosa, where Universal Studios is located. In this article I’ll share my top tips and also a breakdown of each ride, to help plan your day.
When to go
It goes without saying that during school holidays and the weekends, the Park will be busy (you can check local Singapore holidays here).
That said, if you go early in the day and you purchase a Universal Express (more on that later), you’ll be fine.
Where to buy tickets
If you buy your tickets online, this will save you queuing. The official website may also offer discount and promos. In addition to this, check out Voyagin and Klook who often have 10% off.
I strongly urge you to purchase a ‘Universal Express’ pass on top of your ticket (approx SGD 30). This allows you to queue jump once on nearly all the rides and can save you hours of pain in waiting. If you are visiting on a seemingly emptier day, you may want to chance it at first but if you think you need the Universal Express, you can also purchase inside the Park. Unless you want to ride the rollercoasters over and over, there is no point purchasing the more expensive Universal Express Unlimited.
What to pack
It’s almost certainly going to be hot and sweaty. Possibly with a chance of showers! So pack your sunglasses, water bottle, foldable umbrella/poncho (if showing thunderstorms) and comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to bring a layer as whilst it can be hot outside, you might the aircon on full blast inside the rides.
If you want the option of renting a stroller for the day, you’ll find the ‘Stroller and Wheelchair Rental’ on the right after entering the park.
Getting to Universal Studios
Universal Studios is on Sentosa, an island located 15 minutes from the CBD. There are various different ways to get the park (bus, cable car, train) but for me, the easiest is taxi! If you are new to Singapore, check out Grab, which has recently acquired the local Uber. You will get dropped off in the Resorts World Carpark, follow the signs up the escalator to the entrance to the Park.
How long do I need at Universal Studios Singapore?
The Park is easily done in a day. If you get there early to beat the heat, you may even find yourself flagging and homeward bound mid-afternoon.
The beauty of USS is it’s a really manageable size. There are 6 ‘lands’:
Far Far Away
The Lost World
Of course this really depends on the ages of your kids and what everyone’s in to. If you have bought a Universal Express, you can relax as you won’t have to factor in queuing. Therefore it’s worth heading straight for the rides that won’t allow the Universal Express; Canopy Flyer, Treasure Hunter, Amber Rock Climb and Magic Potion Spin (although I’d skip the last two).
Although the park usually opens at 10am, ‘The Lost World’ land opens at 11am. Which means you should head straight to Ancient Egypt to do Treasure Hunters (pretend desert jeep ride) and then Revenge Of The Mummy (indoor rollercoaster). On your way to Ancient Egypt you could also do Transformers in Sci-Fi City and my favourite ride. This means you could ride it again later, skipping the queue with your Universal Express pass.
After you’ve done Canopy Flyer and Treasure Hunter, the world is your oyster with the Universal Express! It’s worth checking to see the time of shows including WaterWorld and The Rockafellas. I’ll go into the rides in more depth below.
This is the area you walk through as you first enter the park. You might spot characters here on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
This land is super sweet and great for young kids. There are 2 rides:
Madagascar: A Crate Adventure – river boat ride but is lovely but it is dark (my 6yo still a bit scared)
King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round – classic carousel
Madagascar Boogie! Little dance show that’s on several times a day
Far Far Away
Plenty for the kiddos in this land:
Enchanted Airways – a junior rollercoaster but still packs a punch! Min height 92cm
Shrek 4-D Adventure – little ones might be scared of the dark and also some of the 4D sensation.
Magic Potion Spin – a very slow ride in the gift shop, I’d probably skip this
Donkey LIVE – funny comedy show. Nudge your kids to volunteer when asked!
Puss in Boots’ Giant Journey – gorgeous gentle ‘roller coaster’ with min. height of 100cm.
The Dance For the Magic Beans – a fun dance show
The Lost World
This land features a mix of rides and a show:
WaterWorld – incredible stunt show. Again, a bit scary for my 6yo with all the loud bangs but my 8yo loves it. Check times on entry. I wouldn’t bother standing in the heat of a long queue, unless you feel the need to be right at the front. Aim for 5 mins before the show starts, there’s plenty of seating inside.
Canopy Flyer – swoop and soar over The Lost World. Min height of 92cm therefore it’s quite a good one for little ones who want adventure but not tall enough for Puss in Boots’. Remember you can’t do Canopy Flyer with the Universal Express so head there early on in the day.
Dino-Soarin – sit in your own Pteranodon. Little kids will love this one.
Amber Rock Climb – we’ve never done this as we’ve always had open toe shoes! Bring trainers
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure – Absolutely brilliant! A thrilling river raft ride, I won’t give anything away but prepared to be splashed. Minimum height 107cm
Treasure Hunters – a desert jeep ride. Good for little kids as there’s no min. height
Revenge Of The Mummy – an indoor roller coaster in total darkness. Min height 122cm
Two rollercoasters – HUMAN and CYCLON (this is the one that goes upside down). Both min. height 125cm.
I must admit that I’ve not done either of these rollercoasters. My 8yo did HUMAN and said it was amazing. I’m still working up the courage!
Accelerator – like a traditional whirlitzer. Quite jerky and vomit inducing!
Transformers The Ride – This is an incredible 3D experience and one of my favourite rides
Lights, Camera, Action! – watch as an empty sound stage becomes the setting for a hurricane. Very clever, although young kids (yes surprise surprise my 6yo) might get a little scared of the dark and loud noises.
Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase – you won’t be surprised then to find out this is my 6yo’s favourite ride!
The Rockafellas – absolutely INCREDIBLE B-boy street dancing. If you have budding dancers, nudge them into volunteering for the show.
Where to eat in Universal Studios Singapore?
As you may expect, the food is quite average. If you want a coffee, grab at Starbucks as you walk through Hollywood.
If you’re after KFC type food, head to Goldilocks in Far Far Away. Discovery Food Court in The Lost World has a decent selection of local dishes including Laksa and Hainanese Chicken Rice. Plus these fairly gross looking dinosaur nuggets for kids!
I’ve heard Loui’s NY Pizza Parlor in New York is the best of the bunch although I’m yet to try.
You’ll find ice creams and popcorn throughout the park. If you want even nicer, gourmet ice-cream, after you exit Universal Studios, keep walking until you get to Candylicious.
‘All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…’ Well I don’t know what jetplane you’re leaving on but it’s never as smooth as those lyrics for me. 9 times out of 10 the taxi’s waiting as I’m racing back into my house to find phone charger/glasses/currency etc. So to celebrate Jetlag & Mayhem’s new look, here’s a list we can all use every time we fly longhaul….
Check your visas
Keep an eye on your kids health. Any remote signs of fever, take them to doctor in case of an ear infection. You may want to travel with antibiotics in case something develops.
Check when your airline opens online check-in. If you’re using a bassinet, you won’t be allowed to check-in online.
Find out if there are any ways to skip the queues. Does the airport offer a family lane to speed your way through security? If not then there are sometimes options to pay extra to fast track through security (handy at certain SE Asian airports)
Check your suitcases a few weeks in advance of your trip. You don’t want to be scrambling round for a new suitcase on the day you fly. If you’re planning to shop, pack a foldup bag.
Check luggage allowance
Don’t start too early – packing will take as long as you have.
Print out all of the information that you’ll need, don’t rely on having phone/signal battery. I print out the most important documents twice, keeping one in my hand luggage and one in my checked bag.
Resealable plastic bags for toiletries.
Pack everything in packing cubes. Label them with Sharpies.
Normal rules go out the window – snacks, iPads, whatever keeps everyone happy. Here’s a good roundup of toys for the under 5s
Autograph books for kids (especially if you’re doing Disney)
Change of clothes in hand luggage
Take some time out that morning or the night before – get the grandparents to take the kids for an hour and go to the gym or go for a walk
Try to get everything you’ll need for the journey before you fly. Airport shopping with kids in tow is painful. The exception here is liquids, as sometimes it’s helpful to wait until you’re airside and then buy any drinks/medicines that you’ll need.
Are you taking car seats with you? If so make sure you have a strong but flexible bag to put them in and make sure they are well protected. You can sometimes also slip some additional items in there.
Plan your route to the airport, check the traffic!
Some taxi services will keep your car seats until you come back.
If you’re parking at the airport, allow plenty of time to head from your car to the terminal (with luggage and kids).
Same for car hire, always factor in plenty of time to return the car and get inside the airport, especially if you have to take a shuttle bus.
AT THE AIRPORT
Spare change for baggage trolleys..
If you’re using a buggy/stroller, find out the procedure in advance. Can you expect to get the buggy as soon as you get off the plane? If not then make sure you have a sling, or maybe even a Trunki.
Have you ever been on a ‘Duck Tour’? I don’t mean roaming the wetlands, binoculars in hand, seeking out birds. I’m referring to sightseeing the city aboard a strange contraption that can drive from land into the water. Which indeed makes it one of the more fun ways to tour the city! In Singapore, these ‘Ducks’ are actually refurbished WWII amphibious vehicles from Vietnam. You can book your Singapore DUCKtour through Duck & Hippo or visit one of these Ticketing Counters.
The DUCKtour operates from 10am to 6pm daily and departs hourly on the hour. We boarded from Suntec City Mall (handy if you want to have lunch before or after as there is a huge food court).
What to expect
After excitedly clambering aboard the vehicle, we were informed the seats at the front may get wet. obviously we made a beeline for those! As the Ducktour does a U-turn, it means it doesn’t matter which side you sit on as you’ll get to see everything. Our friendly guide Glenford made the introductions and we all got into the spirit. We started our tour driving around the streets of Singapore, heading towards Marina Bay. Glenford shared with us the history and geography of the area.
Before we knew it, Glenford gave us the heads up our Duck was about to transform. We then went trundling down into the river with a big splash, Jetlag & Mayhem loved it. All of a sudden we had gone from land beast to aquatic creature.
One of the best ways to view Singapore is from its waterways. We sailed around the harbour taking in the magnificent Singapore Flyer, iconic Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade Theatre and the Merlion.
The journey doesn’t end on the water. Suddenly we were waddling back onto dry land and touring through Singapore’s Civic District. We saw the Supreme Court, War Memorial Park and finally the world’s largest water fountain (the Fountain of Wealth) at Suntec City.
Should I do the DUCKtour?
If you’ve got kids in tow and choosing between one tour in Singapore my vote would be for this. At one hour, it’s the right length for minimal attention spans and you can’t beat the fun of the splash from road into water. Also you may be surprised by how much information your kids retain – my two are still relaying off facts such as ‘did you know that the Esplanade looks like either a durian or microphone?’
Jetlag & Mayhem were guests of Duck & Hippo. I was not paid for this review and this is all my own opinion.
I recently had some houseguests with me here in Singapore who had just flown up from Perth. They arrived early evening and I fussed around them, offering up water, telling them they should get some fresh air and to try to stay awake till at least 10pm. I was trying to ward off the perils of jet lag until my friend kindly reminded me there is absolutely no time difference between Perth, Australia and Singapore!
That said, not all travel involves an easy hop in the same time zone. The thought of jet lag puts many people off longhaul travel, especially as there is no ‘jet lag cure’. There is, however, a multitude of useful tips and tricks to alleviate jet lag. Here are five of my favourites:
Know what to expect
Flying west is easier on the body than flying east. Humans run on a 24-hour cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. After flying across different time zones, when we arrive at our destination, our body finds it difficult to adjust. It is far more difficult on the body to fly east to west, e.g. London to Hong Kong, rather than west to east, e.g. Hong Kong to London. This is because when you fly east you are ‘losing’ time.
When I fly from Hong Kong to the UK, it often only takes us one day to recover. The other way round can take up to a week! So if you’re planning a trip and flying east, allow a few days to rest and reset the body before rushing off on a big adventure.
Try to steer clear of that tempting Bloody Mary and drink water throughout your flight. Staying hydrated shouldn’t stop on the plane. Keep topping up on water at your destination. If you’re flying with a baby, you may also want to give an extra milk feed before bed time to ‘top them up’ and hope they sleep for longer!
Adjust to the local time zone
As soon as I get on the plane I set my watch to the time at my destination. Try to mimic that time as best you can, although this can be tricky when flying with kids. When you arrive, stay awake till as late in the day as possible, and keep to a local time schedule.
Get some daylight
My mum swears by daylight on the back of her knees. I don’t know if it’s an old wives’ tale but I do know that getting out into bright light is helpful for resetting the body clock. Don’t be tempted to arrive at the hotel and crawl into bed if you are exhausted. Try and go for a walk outside or splash about in the pool.
Take natural supplements
Some people ward off jet lag using a melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body, which helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. At around 9pm your body starts to produce melatonin, which puts the body in a ‘tired state’. The time at which you take melatonin is important. If you’re trying to reset your body clock to a later time, such as after flying east, you should take melatonin at local bedtime nightly until you have become adapted to local time. If you’re trying to reset your body clock to an earlier time, such as after flying west, melatonin should be taken in the morning. I hope these tips and tricks help you overcome your jet lag woes and allow you to make the of your next adventure.
Wow, what a year 2017 has been for my travels and I. Unlike people who nonchalantly book things at last-minute, I usually have a full year of travel planned, to take advantages of public holidays, air miles and cheap deals. However even by my standards 2017 was more jam-packed than ever due to a significant life event. We relocated from our wonderful home of 10 years, Hong Kong to the Lion City, Singapore. Due to the job change, Mr Jetlag received a once in a lifetime opportunity – 3 months off work! Which I promptly filled with several trips before he’d even had the chance to hide the credit card. We had some magnificent adventures and for those of you who might be planning similar trips, here’s where we went with links to the trip reviews….
A week’s roadtrip to the South Island of New Zealand driving Christchurch – Lake Tekapo – Aoraki/Mt Cook – Oamaru – Dunedin – Akaroa. The South Island will always have a special place in our heart as it’s where we spent our honeymoon. Needless to say, it’s still as stunning as ever and it was amazing to visit all the places we didn’t get the chance to visit on our first trip. Plus bring along the two extra stragglers with us.
A luxury (and no kids) wedding anniversary treat to the Amanpulo in the Philippines. I have been banging on about wanting to visit an Aman hotel for years. To celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, I finally managed to wear down Mr Jetlag and we booked the eye-watering (in both price and beauty), Amanpulo. I can’t shout from the rooftops enough about just how beautiful this private island resort is. I am just wondering when is an appropriate time to suggest it again, silver wedding anniversary?!
The bucket list trip of a lifetime to magical Bhutan. In a jam-packed travel year, this was probably my highlight. I have always wanted to visit Bhutan and as soon as Mr Jetlag found out he had time off, I informed him that Bhutan was where he had always wanted to go. Within moments off him acquiescing, I had the trip booked and our 5 day Bhutanese adventure was everything I could have dreamed of.
Month’s US roadtrip to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Originally we had a two week trip planned to take Jetlag & Mayhem to Disney World. With the unexpected time off, we added an extra two weeks and went north to visit Savannah, Charleston and St Augustine, in addition to originally itinerary. The trip was made even more special by the surprise visit of my sister and her family.
Christmas/New Year vacation in Phuket, Thailand. We are here now in Baan Bon Khao, Phuket generally lazing around and eating copious amounts of delicious food. I’ll review the villa in 2018 but from what we have experienced so far, it is amazing.
So that was me, what about the rest of the team that make up Jetlag & Mayhem? Are they remotely aware of all the amazing places they visited this year? Or does their memory only stretch back to the last ice-cream they had? Here we have Mr Jetlag, Mesdames Jetlag & Mayhem and special guest, Jetlag-in-law to share their 2017 travel memories….
Where did you go this year?
Miss Jetlag – ‘Florida, New Zealand, Angsana, Phuket, South Carolina, Georgia’
Miss Jetlag – ‘Florida because I went to Disneyland!’
Miss Mayhem – ‘Florida, Disneyland!’
Jetlag-in-law – ‘Singapore because I expected one thing and it far outshone my expectations’
Mr Jetlag – ‘First can I just say Im often overshadowed in this blog so it’s nice to finally be asked some questions. My favourite place was the Amanpulo. It is the closest I’ve found to paradise on earth.’
On all your travels, what was your favourite food?
Miss Jetlag – ‘I liked the fried chicken in Florida and the pad thai in Thailand and the goldfish crackers in New Zealand.’
Miss Mayhem – ‘The ice cream sandwich in Disneyland’
Mr Jetlag – ‘Probably right now, here in Phuket. Thai home cooking by the chefs at the villa Baan Bon Khao’
Jetlag-in-law – ‘In Greece, lobster linguini at the Ouziki restaurant in Halkidiki’
What was your favourite attraction / museum?
Mr Jetlag – ‘I loved taking the kids to Disney World’
Jetlag-in-law – ‘Gardens By the Bay, Singapore’
Mesdames Jetlag & Mayhem – ‘Magic Kingdom’
What was the most spectacular outdoor beauty you encountered?
Mr Jetlag – ‘Lake Punakiki, South Island of New Zealand. Closely edges out the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan and Haad Yuan in Koh Phangan’
Jetlag-in-law – ‘Viewing Singapore from the Singapore flyer’