Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to enjoy USS when it is raining?

When it comes to rain, all that I hear are complaints. From TripAdvisor to Theme Park Review and every blog in between, rain seems like the ultimate nemesis that devours all enjoyment you can find at Universal Studios Singapore. However, is that really true?

In my over 20 trips to USS, I encountered rain of all manners and intensities, thunder and lightning and scorching sun. I can assure you that there are ways to enjoy USS even while it is raining. In this blog post, as inspired from a friend, I will show you how in this rather long post. Let me get this straight, this blog post is to guide you what to do to make the most of a rainy day. I am not trying to tell you to search for a rainy day to go USS.

Dark Clouds loom over the new Puss in Boots Roller Coaster at USS. Its time to take shelter!

Update August 2015: Battlestar Galactica


If you are wondering if Battlestar Galactica operates in the rain, it DOES! However, Battlestar Galactica does NOT operate when the lightning alert is active, just like all the other outdoor rides!

USS Battlestar Galactica Raining
This picture is taken during a moderate shower! You can see that there are people using umbrellas on the bottom left of the picture.

About rainy USS


USS is located in Singapore, a tropical climate. This means you have a chance to encounter rain no matter which time of the year you come. However, I generally observe that intense rain is more likely to occur during the middle and end of the years, and the much dreaded whole day rain usually occurs in June and December. March and September is generally rather dry for Singapore.

[tip] If the weather is very hot and sunny in midday, it is more likely to rain in the evening.

I think that most people will not intentionally visit USS on a rainy day, but if you do happen to encounter one, you should be well informed on how best to enjoy your day. At the very least, I hope that you will feel more optimistic after knowing the pros :D

Pros:
  • Generally shorter queues at all rides
  • Easier to get good seats in indoor shows
  • Dining crowds at restaurants deeper inside the park are not crowded
  • It's fun to see the faces of unprepared tourists :P


Cons:
  • Outdoor attractions, particularly the roller coasters will be closed
  • No parade or fireworks
  • Sheltered areas are usually very crowded
  • Most street entertainment will be cancelled


Coping with the Rain


Firstly, about 20% of pathways in USS are sheltered. Also, most of the signature attractions are located indoors so all is not lost. However, that still leaves 80% of routes that will get you soaking wet real fast. Here are a couple of tips to cope in the rain.

  1. Use the USS Brochures as Umbrellas. The USS Brochures are available from the entrance of the park and at most stores. It can be used as a makeshift umbrella as the material is quite good and water is less likely to cause the brochure to crumble (unlike normal paper). They are also small and easy to store when taking rides
  2. Eat at Restaurants in Madagascar, Far Far Away and Ancient Egypt. The pathways here are not sheltered, so the dining outlets like Gloria's Snack Shack and Oasis Spice Cafe are not crowded at all. You can find your favourite seat and have your whole group order food together. However, restaurants at the New York-Hollywood area will be totally packed.
  3. Lock all your stuff in 1 locker. Alright, don't tell RWS about this, but even though you need to pay to open your lockers after a time limit, if you "accidently" lock your wallet inside the crew will open the expired locker for you for free. (warning: does not work all the time) This way, your stuff will not get wet. Just don't hoard too many lockers so genuine riders like me can actually use!
  4. Get a nice hot drink. Even though hot beverages are charged at a premium in USS' table service restaurants, you can actually get free hot water from the child-care room inside the Annual Pass Lobby. It is located there for mothers to make baby formula, but I guess we are all babies when compared to nature's fury.
  5. Beware of slippery Jurassic Park. Among the whole USS, the floor surface at Jurassic Park is most slippery. Water also evaporates slowly here so the floor can remain wet hours after the rain stopped. Be careful when the floor is wet. Note: That doesn't mean you guarantee won't slip and fall in other areas.
In case it rains, do not forget to bring the 3 simple items in every theme park trip: Large plastic bag (to keep your bag dry), Umbrella, and a Big Smile!

Hollywood (shown here), New York and half of Sci-Fi City is sheltered 

Other areas like Ancient Egypt are not sheltered

What attractions remain open?


USS has a standard protocol for deciding which activities remain available depending on the weather. While the exact details are trade secrets, here is the complete list of attractions and their operating status. Major attractions are indicated with bold markings.

Rides:
  • Open regardless of weather:
    • Sesame Street and the Spaghetti Space Chase
    • Transformers: The Ride (major attraction)
    • Accelerator
    • Revenge of the Mummy (major attraction)
    • Magic Potion Spin
    • King Julien's Party Go Round
    • Madagascar, A Crate Adventure (major attraction)
  • Open during moderate rain but not during thunderstorm
    • Treasure Hunters
    • Puss in Boots and the Giant Journey
    • Battlestar Galactica: Human vs Cylon
  • Open during light rain but not during thunderstorm
    • Enchanted Airways
    • Canopy Flyer
    • Dino-Soarin
    • Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure (major attraction)
Shows:
  • Open regardless of weather
    • When I Grow Up (arguably major attraction)
    • Lights Camera Action
    • Shrek 4D (major attraction)
    • Rockefellas
  • Open during moderate rain but not during thunderstorm
    • Mel's Dinettes
    • The Cruisers
    • The Dance for the Magic Beans
  • Open during light rain but not during thunderstorm
    • Waterworld (major attraction)
    • Hollywood Dreams Parade (major attraction)
    • Madagascar Boogie
    • Lake Hollywood Spectecular (major attraction), select days only
I will not propose a specific timeline for you as the queues are generally short on rainy days and the queues will get longer if everyone follows the same style.

Best things to do when raining


In fact, there are some things that are actually quite interesting to do in USS when it rains. Here are some of my personal favourites

Moderate Rain/Thunderstorm
  1. Mummy Marathon. Revenge of the Mummy usually has 20-30 minute queues during the weekends, but things change quickly when the sky starts pouring. Queue lines drop to 5 minutes even during alleged peak hours and it is possible to take the ride 3-4 times before the 45 minute locker time limit expires.
  2. Talking to People. Interaction at theme parks is usually between staff and guest. How about guest to guest interaction? Since there are so many people who do not know what to do, why not approach them and start a conversation? Maybe you learn about their country and culture, or perhaps you can share some tips that you learnt from this blog! If not, why not talk to some of the staff?
  3. Shopping. Yes shopping. Some people discount USS Souvenir Shops as overpriced money sinks, but what else can you do if you finished all the indoor rides? Anyway, I can assure you that the plush toys sold in USS are comparable to high street stores like Metro and Isetan and the toys are similarly priced to those in Toy's r Us. Just avoid the fridge magnets, lanyards and other less-practical (and overpriced) stuff.
Light Rain
  1. Enchanted Airways Spam. For some reasons, Singaporeans are incredibly fragile. The thought of getting just a teeny-weeny wet will cause people to chicken out. This means that the usual 30 minute queue of Enchanted Airways is dropped to...well...walk in and ride. The ride is also faster when the tracks are slippery!
  2. Extra Wet Rapids Adventure. For me, riding Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure in the rain is quite an interesting experience. After all, the Jurassic Park movies always portray the most exciting scenes in the rain. Also, with more water flow the ride is bound to get a little more exciting.
  3. Enjoy the scenery. Believe it or not, some areas like Madagascar and Jurassic Park actually look much better in the rain, as it gives a sense of adventure and greater realism. The back alleys of New York are also amazingly real in the rain. Also, you do not have to compete with people for selfie spots!

This is what happens to Enchanted Airways when it is not raining.

Conclusion


Rain always spoils my plans. From the events I organise to my theme park trips. However, there are still things to do at USS even when the weather turns sour. In fact, I think the best part about rain is that it allows us to enjoy theme parks from a different perspective - the retail, the realism, and most importantly, the people.