Despite shorter ride operating hours and not all experiences being available, Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa still makes for an enjoyable vacation-like escape for kids and adults.
UPDATED: 8 Dec 2022
(Added info on A Universal Christmas, updated rest of post with latest details, deleted outdated info.)
We recently visited Universal Studios Singapore and right now its theme is "A Universal Christmas", happening till 2 Jan 2023! So Christmas-y vibes are all round at the theme park with festive decorations at its main streets and meet-and-greet characters dressed to theme.
Personally, I wouldn't visit USS just for a certain theme it's having like Halloween or Christmas because the draw of the theme park for me is still the rides. But that said, the Christmas theme does invoke a holiday mood!
Our last visit to Universal Studios was more than a year ago when Singapore had yet to ease COVID restrictions. Now that it has eased most restrictions, tourists have returned and it's definitely more crowded now. Operating hours and rides have also changed. So I'm updating the 10 must-knows when visiting USS that I wrote last year with the latest info. So do read on!
Original post: 10 Sep 2021
We've been thinking of taking our kids to Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa for the longest time - the last we had been there was in 2017 when our girls were 5 and 7 years old. Now at 9 and 11 years old (Update: They are 10 and 12 years old!), I feel they are at the age when they would really be able to appreciate the rides there.
So if you're taking your kids to USS, here are 10 things you need to know. What you read here is up-to-date as at time of writing but do check the RWS website for the latest updates before you go!
1) What are the opening hours?
USS is currently open daily at 11am-8pm till 2 January 2023 which is when its 'A Universal Christmas' is happening. Thereafter the calendar on the USS website states that its open 11am-6pm Wednesday-Monday and 11am-8pm during the Chinese New Year weekend during 21-24 Jan 2023. Do check it's opening hours at the Resorts World Sentosa website before going.
While the opening hours are currently at 11am-8pm, not all rides are open at 11am. When we were there, most of the rides started at 12pm but a few like Enchanted Airways and TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle had opened at 11am. It would be good to download the USS app which will tell you the operating hours of various rides, queue time for each ride and timings of meet-and-greets and shows, so you can plan your time around the park.
Most rides and shows have returned compared to a year ago when we were there. However shows like Waterworld and Donkey Live are still temporarily closed. Other than King Julien's Merry-Go-Round, the rest of the Madagascar zone is also closed for refurbishment. For full list of ride operation hours and unavailable rides, do check RWS' website.
2) How much are the tickets?
Tickets sold on the RWS website for Singapore residents are currently at $71 for children age 4-12 years old, and $91 for adults. There is a "Universal Christmas" promo now at $78 for children (includes a $10 dining voucher and $5 retail voucher) and $98 for adults (includes a $20 dining voucher and $10 retail voucher). If you have Maybank cards, you can get the above tics at $10 less. They are quite worthwhile as you'll most probably be dining in USS where meals are easily close to $20 per pax. These vouchers are stackable (max 4 vouchers) so you can let the kids buy some souvenirs with the vouchers too.
Tickets purchased from USS' websites allows you direct entry into the theme park, meaning you don't have to queue at the USS ticketing counter to exchange them for tickets.
Note that these tickets are fixed-date tickets, meaning you have to choose the dates you are visiting when you book them. As many of the rides are outdoor and much of USS is not sheltered, you might want to check the weather forecast in the morning before purchasing tickets. But that said, we didn't have much of choice though it was forecasted to rain in the afternoon the day we were there and typically Singapore is rainy at the end of the year. Some of the outdoor rides were suspended from late afternoon which did dampen the fun a little. Most people just made a beeline for the indoor rides when that happened.
3) Are there other places we can buy tickets other than from USS' website?
Klook sells USS tickets too but they were slightly more expensive than those sold on the USS website when we last checked. But sometimes Klook has vouchers and promos which can give you discounts at your cart, so do a comparison before booking.
Sentosa is also selling USS tickets albeit cheaper than USS' websites at $68 for adults and $58 for children for locals (it doesn't state if this includes PRs though, please check directly with Sentosa). However, you'll need to exchange these for entry to USS at the USS ticketing counter; they don't give you direct entry to the park. This is reason why we didn't opt for this though it's cheaper. We did this before and the queue at the ticketing counter can be long (we queued for at least half hour previously) as tourists tend to go to the park to purchase tickets. So that means wasting time to queue at the ticketing counter and then again to enter the park. I much prefer tickets that will give me direct entry to the park to save time.
4) Are the rides suitable for young children?
We had been there when our girls were at 3, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 12 years old, I really think they can enjoy most of the rides now at 9-12 years old. When they were 3-7 years old, we took most of the kiddy rides like Madagascar: A Crate Adventure (Update: this has closed), King Julien's Beach Party Go Round, Sesame Street Spaghetti Chase, Accelerator and Dino Soarin. The height requirements for the rides aside (the height requirements vary for the rides, so do check before you take the little ones there!), they were also not game enough for the more thrilling rides at those age.
At 9 and 11 years old, my girls were a lot more gung ho, and we were able to try out the more thrilling rides like Transformers, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, Canopy Flyer, Enchanted Airways, and Puss in Boots' Giant Journey. In fact they weren't even keen on the less thrilling rides like Spaghetti Chase and King Julien's Beach Party-Go-Round!
I think every kid has their own fear threshold when it comes to thrill rides and I'm not one for forcing our kids to try them till they are ready. Turned out they were very ready at this age for most of the rides, but they still wouldn't go for the Mummy Revenge or Battlestar Galatica!
That said, I think there is still some variety of rides for the younger ones (though not as many as compared to those for the older kids) like those I had mentioned above. The little ones would also still be able to enjoy the atmosphere and grandeur of the attraction which feels very magical even for adults.
There are also lots of character photo opportunities - we saw Po and Tigeress from Kungfu Panda, and the minions from Despicable Me. Check your USS app for the timings of these meet-and-greets. The queues to take pictures with the characters at the meet-and-greets are quite long but they move very fast!
5) How crowded is it?
We were there for 'A Universal Christmas' on a Wednesday during the November school holiday and it was relatively crowded with many appearing to be tourists.
We didn't want to wait for rides that had long queues, so the app was helpful in letting us know how long the queue is for each ride and you can go for the rides with the shorter queues. Our waiting time for the rides during our visit ranged from 5-20 minutes. That said, we noticed at times rides queues could be as long as 50 mins. Compared to pre-pandemic days when some queues could take up to 60-90 minutes, I guess the queues now are still considered reasonable.
I can't say if it's better or worse on weekends as we deliberately avoided the weekends thinking it should be more crowded compared to a weekday, even if it's the school holidays.
6) How safe is it?
There's no longer safe distancing or mandatory mask wearing in Singapore. At the parks, you can see most tourists do not wear masks. We kept ours on when we were indoors and queuing for rides but took a breather without masks when we were outdoors.
Sadly, the park no longer has hand sanitisers located at the rides but they still do at the shops. So bring your own hand sanitisers if you're particular about hygiene like us!
7) Is dining-in available?
Some restaurants in USS remain close but there are still options. The food there is generally nothing to shout about and are easily close to $20 per person. You can exit the park to dine at the RWS restaurants outside as USS allows for re-entry (do tell the staff you intend to re-enter when you leave) but it's probably more convenient to dine in the park as dining outside means walking all the way out. I had thought Star Bots cafe which is next to the Transformer ride has the most decent grub among the restaurants there but unfortunately it was close during our visit.
8) What to bring?
Do bring raincoats and umbrellas as much of the attraction is not sheltered. Brollies and caps will also be handy when it gets really hot. The raincoats will also be useful on the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure if you don't want to get wet during the ride!
9) How much time to budget?
We had arrived around 11am and had time to re-take rides a second time. By 630pm the kids were pretty beat but at least we took all the rides we enjoyed. I've heard kids who could go on till 10pm during the late night events at USS in the past, but doubt we would have the energy to hang out till that late!
10) Are the souvenirs worth buying?
There are many gift shops at the attraction and the one nearest the entrance is the largest and with the most variety. If you're going to let the kids pick some souvenirs, I would suggest doing so at the largest gift shop near the entrance. They even have Gudetama and Hello Kitty sections which we didn't see at the other smaller gift shops in the park. I notice there are not many promotions now, unfortunately, as tourists have returned!
The girls absolutely love USS and the younger one was asking when can we visit again! We'll definitely return - maybe by then the girls would be game for Battlestar Galatica and the Mummy ride!
What other attractions have you visited this school holiday? Do comment below!
Disclaimer: We paid for our tickets, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.
©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.