Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Trip Down Universal Studios Singapore

Movies bring us to another world where imagination reigns, where the impossible becomes possible, where dreams come true. So does a trip down Universal Studios Singapore. It is a transporter which will immerse us in not one but seven uniquely themed-zone surrounding a lagoon.

On 13 Feb 2011, our family of four headed down to Universal Studio Singapore. As it was the Lunar New Year period, the park's opening hour was extended from 10am to 9.30pm instead of the usual 10am to 7pm. We were also treated to the special fireworks at 9pm.

Best Time of the Day to Visit the Park

Taking stock of the sweltering Singapore weather, morning is a good time to enjoy the park. Unfortunately, as the park is only open from 10 am, one only has about 2 hours of soft sun rays before the blazing heat makes any outdoor activities uncomfortable. Hence, the best time to explore the land of movie magic is from 3 pm onwards. Our outdoor experience tells us that that is the time when the sun is setting. While it may be hot in the beginning, the temperature will cool down as the clock ticks.

Universal Studios Singapore is big by Singapore standard - 20 hectares (49 acres) in size, occupying the easternmost part of the 49-hectare (120-acre) Resorts World Sentosa. Yet, it is compact and one could have a fair idea of the park in 4 hours flat complete with a good dose of rides but you would have to skip taking pictures with mascots along the way. That said, to me with two young primary school boys monkeying around, this is a small price to pay as my family will be able to complete or at least most of the park in our best mood in the best time of the day, with minimal stress by the time the park closes at 7 pm.

If you feel that you need a little more time, you may want to consider checking out from 10 am to around 12 pm and coming back again later in the afternoon. Afterall, the park allows you to re-enter with your handstamp and park ticket.

Map of the Park

In this blog, I will be sharing with you the key attractions to look out for based on my own experience visiting the 7 zones in Universal Studios Singapore. I will be detailing the activities at each zone from "Hollywood" zone clockwise back to "New York".

Hollywood and Madagascar

When you enter the park, you will first be greeted by a broadway-style theatre with a variety of flagship shops. Welcome to Hollywood! This zone is a replica of the famous Hollywood Boulevard and is flanked by dynamic architecture and palm trees.

Walk a little further north, you will be in Madagascar, where as in the movie of the same name, penguins can also be found there. There was supposed to be a waterboat ride but it was not ready yet.

Far Far Away

You will know that you are in the land Far Far Away with the 40-metre tall Far Far Away Castle - the world's first - staring right in your eyes.

The star attraction is the Shrek 4-D Adventure. It is a fascinating adventure as you will see, hear and feel the action right from the motion seat as you join Princess Fiona and Shrek in a fairytale adventure. There are other attractions such as Donkey Live an interactive "live" show, enchanted airways - a junior roller coaster and magic potion spin which our family decided to give it a miss as my boys were raring to go to the next zone, The Lost World.

The Lost World

By far, the hot favorite of my 2 boisterious boys, especially the Jurassic Park. As in the movie, Jurassic Park by Steven Spielberg and novel by Michael Crichton, one enters the park in a water ride, Jurassic Park Rapids which leads to an adrenaline-rush as hell breaks loose and one becomes the hunted by the fiery dinosaurs. Beware though, one can be drenched. If one prefers to stay dry, bring or buy a poncho (at $2) available at the ride. Do also try the Canopy ride which offers a bird-eye's view of this zone.

Another area withing The Lost World is the Waterworld, based on the film starring Kevin Costner. Sit back and enjoy a live show as a seaplane swoops towards you, skidding across the water. Feel the heat as giant fireballs explode in the air.

Ancient Egypt

After The Lost World, one will be teleported to a few hundred years later, still in the past in Ancient Egypt. Though my younger boy just met the 122 cm mark to gain entrance to the ride "Revenge of the Mummy", my elder boy protested vehemently against it. The memory of the topsy-turphy dark roller-coaster ride in Hong Kong Disneyland was still vivid in his head.

Sci-Fi City

After ancient Egypt, one would be quickly thrusted into tomorrow's land - Sci-Fi City. As such high-speed whirling twisting adventure is not for the weak stomach of the Lim family, we just sit and hear the screams from those brave-hearted ones who are taking the Battlestar Galactica Cylon (blue track) or Battlestar Galactica Human (Red track).

New York

This is my favorite zone, New York, based on the original New York City, during the era of post-modernization. Perhaps it reminds me of the scenes in the city - the trademark city skyline, neon lights, facades, sidewalks as well as the romantic atmosphere of the Big Apple. After dinner, I sit in one of the many benches in the zone and for a short moment feel that I am in the famous New York City.

Do visit "Lights, Camera, Action!" hosted by none other than Steven Spielberg. It is an eye opener as to how filmmakers are able to create spectacular special effects such as a major hurricane hitting New York City.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Outcome = Event + Response

This equation is by Jack Canfield (co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul).

Outcome = Event + Response

Many people believe that it is the events around us that shape our outcomes. But it is not the things that happen to us, rather how we choose to respond to happenings that ultimately shape our outcomes. This is the fact:

“We cannot control every single thing that happens to us, but we can control how we choose to respond to it.”

There are many stories of people who were born with all kinds of handicaps and despite all the odds stacked against them, they managed to create a life most others can only dream about. When we look at things from one perspective, it may seem totally bad. However, when we change the way we look at the same thing, i.e. from a different context, the meaning completely changes. In other words, there is no meaning in life except the meaning we choose to give it.

People who succeed and live fulfilling and enriching lives don’t experience better events, they just re-present things and respond in a much more powerful way.

We can all choose to live the life we want to but we need to take responsibility for our life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brain teaser

Suppose you have 4 cards - each will have one side with an alphabet and another with a number.

The side of the 4 cards shown to you are:

A; C; 3; and 6

There is a rule. If a card has a vowel on one end, then it has an even number on the other side.

: Which card(s) must you open to prove the above rule is true? I need to limit it to the minimum number of cards to open.

The same question can be re-framed as follows:

Suppose there are 4 persons sitting in a bar.

One is drinking beer; Another Pepsi; the 3rd fella is aged 16; and the 4th is aged 25

There is a rule. Only those aged 25 and above can drink beer.

Question: Who should you check to prove the above rule is true? Similarly, to limit to the minimum number of persons.

Answer: This should be easy - The one drinking beer (A) and the 3rd fella who is aged 16 (3).

What is the morale of the story? This game is designed to prove that our human brain is more sophisticated when it comes to people and less so with abstract concepts such as numbers and letters.

So next time when you are stuck. You just need to re-frame the question. Using analogy and story will help.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Rabbit Year

Dear readers,

As many of my friends would have known by now that recently, I have been extremely busy. So much so that I have had very little time for my toastmasters' activities and also blogging.

But hey, a new year has come. There is no reason for us to wish that this year will be better than the last. After all, Singapore economy roared in the Year of Tiger despite what the doomsayers predicted.

Remember, you are what you believe in.

Happy Rabbit Year:

From the house of AC.