Universal Studios Singapore – Update 01/2012
This entry is part of the monthly series covering updates at Universal Studios Singapore.
After its lengthy maintenance and enhancement works, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure has finally reopened – ready to pit guests right into the dangerous gaping jaws of dinosaurs and push them over the edge… into a soaking splash.
Unique to Universal Studios Singapore is a river rafting edition of Jurassic Park’s popular adventure rides. The other three Jurassic Park rides are known as “River Adventures”. While Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure lack the dramatic, breathtaking vistas and an elaborate indoor segment that River Adventures are well-known for, it makes up with unpredictable and thrilling rafting maneuvers. The ride was closed from 10 August 2011 till 20 January 2012 for extended refurbishment.
So anyway, this comprehensive update entry features a photo tour of the queue, loading area and splashdown of this attraction, as well as a list of changes that I have observed (to the best of my ability).
Entrance to the ride.
This is the only ride where the park decides to do the “park within a zone” concept.
For those who have not been to the park for a long time, they have changed this queue section to add two poncho vending machines last year.
Ponchos are $2, and only adult-sized ponchos are sold here. February 2012 Update:: Ponchos are now sold in $3 bundles now. 1x Adult size and 1x Kid size poncho in each package.
Anyway, the ride has stopped operating when I took this photo because of heavy rain. As an outdoor attraction, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure will close during severe inclement weather, which includes showers, or any level of rain with lightning. Depending on the situation, guests may wait in line, or may be asked to visit other attractions.
There has been an area at Jurassic Park blocked off for a few months now. Today I finally saw what the park has constructed. The World’s first and only Jurassic Park DRYING PODS! These are just giant dryers, but they do look nicely themed. John Hammond will probably say he spared no expense, I’d assume.
It’s basically two chambers with some high volume fans. I’m not sure how effective this is (people can always cheap out and use hand dryer at the washrooms) but as it costs $5 per use, I hope the fans run for more than 5 minutes.
Near these Drying Pods is a new Photo-Op which will be featured in an upcoming USS Update entry. Stay tuned!
General and Safety Information about Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure
I thought of making this a regular section for all ride-related entries since quite a number of readers asked about Transformers – whether it’s too intense, too scary, “what’s going to happen to my kids” and the lot.
GUEST HEIGHT REQUIREMENT
Guests will need to be at least 107cm tall to ride.
Children between 107cm and 122cm tall will need to be accompanied by a supervising companion.
Parents with young children should be mindful that this ride includes loud noises, sudden movements, water splashes and encounters with several dinosaurs, some friendly and some not. A portion of the ride takes place in almost-complete darkness.
While there is no age limit or requirement, each child must sit on their own seat (no sitting on parent’s lap or carried by parent) for the entire duration of the ride.
CHILD/PARENT SWAP: For Parents with young children
Dear parents with young kids, note that “Child/Parent Swap” is currently not available here.
GUESTS WITH MOTION SICKNESS
Do note that guests prone to motion sickness, dizziness, giddiness, sea-sickness and so forth should be aware that this is a raft water ride. The movement of the boat is dynamic, including sudden tilting, spinning and sharp movements.
SKIP THE LONG LINES
There are 2 ways to shorten your waiting time. The easy way (which requires extra payment) is to buy a Universal Express pass, the other is to use the Single Rider line.
Present your Universal Express pass at the entrance, then at the loading platform.
One-use at this attraction. There is usually no queue at this line, and even if there is, the crew members are supposed to serve Express Passholders first. This is practiced is most situations. Waiting time estimated to be 0 to 10 minutes.
Simply take this lane and enjoy a shorter waiting time. Do note that if you elect to use Single Rider lane with friends or other company, you will very likely be separated into different seats, or even boats.
BRINGING ITEMS ONTO THE RIDE
Do note that any articles brought onboard the ride will get wet, or possibly soaked.
My advice (similar to what the park says): Please leave ALL personal belongings with a non-rider, or store them in lockers. The lockers at the entrance of Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure do not have a “free period” (please proceed to lockers at Revenge of the Mummy or Battlestar Galactica for free rental periods, but take note of how long the free period is, and also remember that you need to RUN back to these lockers and retrieve your personal items before the time limit ends!). The minimum free period is 30 minutes, but can be extended – depending on the wait time for Revenge of the Mummy and Battlestar Galactica. So do check the wait times and use this to your advantage.
If the wait time for Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure is more than 25 minutes but the wait time for the roller-coaster rides are short, I would strongly recommend that you pay for the locker at Jurassic Park instead ($4 for first hour).
Keep your feet and arms inside the boat at all times when it is in motion, with your feet placed on the floor of the boat. Do not try to raise your feet to keep your shoes dry – it’s futile.
Hold on to your belongings and do not leave them in the center of the boat.
Do not attempt to take photos or videos during the ride.
Also please exercise some common sense:
- If you are wearing a poncho, make sure you are wearing it properly. I’ve seen many people wearing ponchos but fail to use the hood to cover their face during the drop, or happily raise their arms at the final drop – causing water to flow right into their clothes.
- If you are carrying a bag onboard (especially tote bags), please fold the top of your bag (like closing a paper bag) during the ride. Otherwise, you will be hoisting a bag full of water and wet belongings.
- Lastly, please make an effort to recycle used ponchos (save it for another rainy day) or at least dispose them properly at the ride exit.
Now let’s get back to business.
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure has been closed for enhancement works since early August 2011. What has the park been up to? Let’s see:
A second elevator has been added. Having a second elevator greatly increases ride capacity and reliability for this attraction. During the extended period when the ride only had one elevator, Rapids Adventure was a frequent victim to breakdowns, or interruptions caused by the elevator system unable to cope with more ride vehicles.
The splash finale of this ride has also been modified so the splash area of the ride is a lot shallower than before – reducing the amount of water being “hurled” into the boats from a heavy impact, particularly the side that hits the water first.
Now, water enters through the gap (between groups of seats) of the boats and rushes into the center of the boat – This results in a more distributed splash at point of impact – and since it originates from the center of each boat, the amount of water soaking guests is more “fair” now. Anyway, the park has either changed the design/elevation of the drop slope, or simply used less water here for that effect.
April 2012 Update:
Fortunately (or not, for some), the water levels are back to the 2011 days. Expect the unfair soaking splash if your side goes into the water first.
Let’s take a look at the ride’s finale before it’s lengthy enhancement/maintenance:
Let’s take a look at how the ride’s finale look like now:
In the updated version of the ride, the boat does not go deep into the water – meaning there’s less water to create a giant wave/splash like before. Hence, the result is a more scattered splash. (Okay, I realize this doesn’t really show how shallow the water actually is, but as you can see the splash is a lot smaller now)
I usually use burst/consecutive shutter mode to capture these splash photos. I’ve chosen photos depicting the greatest level, or peak of the splash for this comparison.
Other Notable Changes
WARNING: From here on is the spoiler-filled and detailed overview of the attraction. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please go right to the bottom until you see “END OF SPOILERS”!
The Short Version: Storyline remains the same, no major changes within the ride. Small dinosaurs swapped. Mainly technical (ride system) changes and maintenance.
Anyway, this section is written for theme park fans and readers who have been on the ride before and wish to know what has changed since last year. Like I’ve said before, this list is not exhaustive – basically my observations.
Welcome to Jurassic Park
- The Jurassic Park Gate’s torches have a slightly different appearance.
- The “shy” Parasaurolophus is indeed very shy.
Flash flood scene
- The Spark effect box, used to simulate sparks flying from the broken electric fences, has been removed. It’s a cool effect, but just didn’t look convincing.
Velociraptors attack scene
- It appears that they have narrowed the path for this area so that boats travel through a more direct path (and don’t slow down)
- There is a ramp-like switch (which flops upwards to stop boats from moving, or sinks into the water to form a downward slope) instead of old gate mechanism.
- The third Velociraptor (which pops out from a rock ledge) has been removed, or was not functioning.
- Baby T-Rex replaced by a Dilophosaurus.
- Some props and plants added to the left (behind the overturned jeep)
T-Rex Territory (Indoor)
- A water spray effect has been added near first T-Rex encounter. Sprayed from pipes from the ceiling.
February 2012 Update: This has been switched off and replaced with the water curtain at the switch section.
- The T-Rex animatronic programming here appears to be altered.
- New “flashing” electrical (or circuit) box prop near that T-Rex, has large slash marks.
- Second gate with slash marks and two glowing eyes (non-moving).
- This section is still mainly darkness with the usual red lights at some areas.
- New sound effects and area music to enhance tension.
- Slightly altered lighting effects
Anyway, the park never got to repair/replace the “Dinosaur Proximity Alarm” light that used to be in the center of each boat, which flashes at this segment. It is an interesting effect that was removed in Mid 2010. Back then, crew members will inform guests at loading that the light is a “Danger Alarm”, and if the light starts to flash, “You are near a big dinosaur” (or similar).
The Switch (Indoor)
- New switch added before the two elevators. This switch is a curved barrier flips downwards, sinking into the water to allow boats to pass over. When it is positioned above water, it guides boats to the other path. Switching is quite fast and happens once a boat moves over and past it.
- Also, the small T-Rex which went missing from the earlier scene has moved here, standing on some props, between the two elevators. As of 21/01/2012, it is still static, with no sound effects.
- Lighting has been altered here – there’s more red lights now but still very dim compared to the other Jurassic Park rides.
- Guests who have taken the ride will know that this section is the most critical point of the ride, as the boat has the tendency to spin in either direction when it bumps around the narrow path here. It is a lot bumpier now, so expect surprising “bumps” that work to, or against your favor. Don’t think that you’re safe from the splash until you’re inside the elevator!
February 2012 Update: A new water effect has been added before the switch. It is a sparse water curtain (from a few broken pipes at the ceiling) which almost ensures that all riders will get wet!
April 2012 Update: The water curtain has been switched off (not sure if this is a permanent change). Some new lighting effects have been added here (to “reveal” dinosaurs), such as the inanimate Baby T-Rex, as well as two Compsognathuses ripping apart a T-shirt that says “MBS” on it. Hmm.
- Both Elevators have the same T-Rex; the scene is mirrored.
- There are some new lines here but the sound system is still too soft to hear it. This time the victim/JP crew shouts “Hey I’m up here!! Help me!” and the boats will start moving upwards at this point.
- Elevators have an array of LEDs at the side
- Both T-Rex animatronics were not functioning properly when I went on the ride a few times.
For the 2010/2011 version of the ride, the script for this section goes like this:
We need help, we need help, right now!
I’ve got your signal, perimeter control we need help!
It’s tearing through the security fences.
Call in! Get a squad here! CALL IN! Help!! HELP!!!
In my opinion, the 2012 script sounds a lot less dangerous, and almost too casual.
As of 21/01/2012, this scene is not functioning properly. The usual elevator has missing sound effects (No victim lines or T-Rex roar) and is unable to lunge at guests like before in 2010/2011. The new elevator has the victim’s sound effect, but no “warning/klaxon” sounds or T-Rex roar. The T-Rex animatronic on this side is unable to move its neck or mouth properly. Its eyes blink though.
- This is the most significant/obvious change.
- The boats don’t plunge into the water as deep as before. Instead, the boats fall into a much shallower area now. This means that the drop is not as soaking wet as before (but if the boat is heavy, expect a powerful splash).
- The splash works differently compared to before. Right now, water rushes into the middle of the boat and spouts from the center, ensuring an (often) even distribution of water splash to all guests. The boat no longer forms a dramatic wall of water – which soaks people sitting at the side that hits the water first.
*Note: It is also possible that the ride was not using as much water as before at time of writing.
- New guide rails have been added, and they extend all the way to concrete part of the river channel.
Note: It appears that although the attraction officially reopened today, some effects, particularly the dinosaur animatronics, were not functioning. I will check back again next week.
February 2012 Update:
- Poncho vending machines now sell 1x Adult and 1x Kid ponchos for $3.
- Parasaur animatronic head is now working
- All 3 Velociprator animatronics were not functioning
- The small dinosaur at the switch is still not functioning
- A new water effect has been added before the switch. It is a sparse water curtain (from a few broken pipes at the ceiling) which almost ensures that all riders will get wet!
- Final Tyrannosaurus Encounter animatronics (for both sides) are working, but does not have the same degree of movement as before (lunging down towards riders).
END OF SPOILERS
It’s certainly great to see the park’s star attraction back up and running again. I feel that the ride is still fun and still has its surprises during the fast and bumpy sections. The finale is not as severe as before – back in 2010/2011, this ride will just drench guests who were unlucky enough to sit at the side that hits the water first – and the experience becomes something that is not pleasant, especially during a rainy day when clothes take forever to dry.
Capacity for this ride has definitely improved with two elevators – as you can see in the photo below, it is now possible to have two boats within this section. With only one elevator working, the next boat can only be released when the previous boat returns to the unloading platform.
While I was hoping that the dark section could have more additions, I’m just glad that they have at least made some changes here. The primary focus is still psychological horror – darkness and uncertainty. If you have ever seen this part of the ride with lights on… hmm – alright I shan’t say what it looks like.
I’m also concerned that a few animatronics (including the T-Rex Finale) were not functioning today. I’ll return to the park again next week and update this entry.
Now that the park has all its blockbuster attractions up and running, I believe many people will start to wonder about the park’s expansion plans. Since Transformers just opened last December, we shouldn’t expect work for the next major attraction to start until 2013. The park has been on a roll since Halloween Horror Nights in October 2011, with events or launches happening every 4-5 weeks. I feel that Universal Studios Singapore is in dire need of an interactive dark ride. Something quite marvelous already exists in another Universal park and I feel it perfectly fits a certain themed zone here, but it really depends on whether RWS has that intention, or more importantly – the budget, to bring it here.
Or perhaps, like Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, it is time to temporarily close another popular attraction for much-needed maintenance and upgrading works.