On December 3rd the Transformers Ride in Universal Studios Singapore officially opened to the public, and I was lucky enough to be able to finagle my way in on that day! Maybe the fact that it was my birthday helped, haha.
First impressions? Impressive! The entrance of the ride had a massive Bumblebee statue perched outside, and the inside walk-in was also suitably adorned with Transformers paraphernalia, both to get you into the mood as well as a primer for what would be going on during the ride itself.
There was also a big-ass version of the new Autobot- a custom designed and built as the star (well really the car) of the ride. You don’t really see much of him, considering you’re riding in him most of the time.
Unfortunately we didn’t get any photos of the ride itself. Photos weren’t allowed in the ride, but besides, considering the fact that it’s 3d, taking a photo would just be an exercise in double-visioned futility. You’ll have to take my word that it was a damned fun ride. ;)
Now I’m not exactly a fan of the Bayhem-derived Transformers movies; I’ve always liked Transformers as noble do-gooders trying to fight of the Decepticons as opposed to the Optimus: God of War level of violence that was rampant in the trilogy (so far). I do have to admit though that all that action really does translate to a pretty exciting thrill ride. The 3d was really immersive and add to that all the effects that make it a ’4d ride’ (I hate the phrase 4d, but it seems like thats how 3d rides with additional effects are called), like heated blowers to simulate an exploding warhead, or a squirt of water to simulate a leaking pipe, you get a REALLY fun, roughly 3-minute long ride. And I don’t know if there were any bits where we were rocketing up from the ground or dropping back to it, but dammit it really felt that way!
There are some stickling points, like how your 3d vision isn’t always perfect, but this is an unavoidable eventuality when you have a stationary screen projecting to viewers who are on a really shaky platform. But these are minor enough that they don’t spoil your enjoyment of the ride. And there’s so much stuff to take in throughout the ride (like that transformer in the corner, or that fight scene just off your field of vision) that you don’t really notice all the niggy points. All in all, even though I’m not exactly a fan of the new Transformers, I have to admit going back on the ride multiple times, and enjoying it every time!
Also, one thing that I did not expect and totally blew me away were the performers for Transformers: what looks like stilt walkers enmeshed in a shell that made them look like Bumblebee and Optimus. The only thing that could possibly be improved was that they didn’t have fully articulated hands; the performers’ hands were actually situated at in the robot’s elbows, managing both the flexing of the forearm as well as some marginal hand movement… but still, I can’t imagine how heavy the whole contraption must have been.
After the Transformers Ride, next on my to-do list was Battlestar Galactica. I didn’t have the chance to ride it on my first foray into USS (it was still down for repairs), so I was definitely looking forward to it.
My first worry that I had bitten off more than I could chew was that the ride operators didn’t let you ride with even the smallest bit of loose items. Wallets, phones and even keys were designated to the lockers (warning: while the lockers are free for a short time, you need to open and move your items between rides, the lockers cost a bomb and rides tend to skew your impression of time). The second clue was the fact that the ride also had limits as to how short AND how tall you could be! Apparently people taller than 1.84 (with shoes) need to only sit on the front row or middle two seats of the coaster. Worrying, considering this was going to be a ‘dueling’ coaster. What happens if you’re too tall, you smoosh your hands into an errant coaster strut or something? Just to play safe, I kept my hands as close to me as possible.
Upside; I get labelled as BOTH human and Cylon.
The human side was fun, but ultimately forgettable. It had its twist and turns, but none of the things that really made it memorable like the Cylon side of the ride. Which is incidentally the human side, but dialled to eleven. Evidently, humans can’t take the awesomeness of the Cylon ride.
Not only was the Cylon side faster, and a hanging coaster compared to the comfy sit down scoop seat coaster that the human side was, but there were bits where they plunged you into a shallow pit that was constantly misted. If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough, the mist would form an impenetrable fog, and when you are barrelling towards it at… I don’t know how many Gs… it feels as if you’re going to smash into a blank wall. So you can imagine the adrenaline when plunging into that mist.
After that (one ride on the human side and multiple rides on the Cylon) we headed to the Mummy ride. An indoor coaster ride, this was comparable (some say and improvement) to the Mummy ride in Universal Studios Hollywood, and pretty fun. Ultimately though, it played a supporting role compared to the big draws that were Transformers and Battlestar.
The first time I went to Universal Studios Singapore, I was kind of disappointed. But it wouldn’t be fair to judge a half-completed theme park. I have to say that while I’m not going to be a regular visitor to USS, the fact that it has a pretty substantial range of rides right now means that I wouldn’t mind forking over the admission cost to enjoy a day in Universal Studios Singapore.