I mentioned in my previous post that I have lots of rituals for the calendar year. One is going to Universal Studios Singapore on Christmas Eve evening.
I started going two years ago, mainly because I was tired of sulking at home on such a festive night. That, and the grim realisation that venturing aimlessly in town on the eve without any reservations or bookings is usually disastrous. To date, USS during Christmas season never disappointed. Actually, I had a pretty great time the last two years. I was thus really looking forward to this year’s Santa’s Santa’s All-Star Christmas programme, which according to USS’ website, included several new attractions.
Entered at 5 pm, and immediately noticed … a bigger crowd compared to last year. Probably satisfied visitors from previous celebrations like me, or the result of more intensive promotion this year. Sticking to my ritual-within-a-ritual, i.e. USS visiting strategy, I hit my favourite rides first. Beginning with Transformers: The Ride. With USS having the wonderful “Single Rider” system, I managed to skip most of the lines. I finished all my favourites after only slightly more than an hour.
Christmas attractions next, with Santa’s Village being first on the list. This was a festive village setup, located outside of the zones and accessible from the New York Public Library façade. More of a children’s photo opportunity thing really. But the dancing elves were charming. They helped to set the mood for the rest of the evening.
Left Santa’s Village and saw the crowds milling into the Pantages Hollywood Theatre, where the Christmas feature, Bah Humbug! A Christmas Spectacular was coming on in ten minutes. Decided to rush over too. The seat I got wasn’t too bad, albeit a little far back. As for the show, I would have preferred a little more popular Christmas music. But it was colourful and glitzy, and there were Minions cameos too. Also loved USS’ concept of using a digital screen as part of the backdrop. That allowed for some truly fast and magical scenery changes.
Dinner at KT Grill
By the way, it started drizzling midway through my rides. When I left Pantages, it was a downpour, with crowds huddling everywhere. The logical thing to do, I concluded, was to sit through the worst of the rain by having dinner. Decided thus to splurge a little and check out KT Grill, the Irish pub restaurant that was just across from Pantages. It was great. Service was fast and efficient. Food quality was fabulous too. Best of all, I could enjoy Christmas music drifting in from outside while I ate.
The Star Attraction of Santa’s All-Star Christmas 2016: Universal Journey
The showpiece of Santa’s All-Star Christmas was Universal Journey, an indoor light sculptures display. On its website, USS proudly announced how this display entered the Guinness World Records on Nov 17, 2016 with its astonishing 800,000 ++ lights used. Having already seen several pictures of it online, I expected to be enchanted, not thrilled. WRONG. I was blown away. Walking into those lights, with classical music piping away, is like entering a fairy realm. One that goes from mesmerising to romantic, and to dazzling, depending on the “thematic” zone one was in. In all, I spent well over half an hour in this wonderland snapping pictures and recording videos. If USS is going to have another such display for 2017, I’m sure its Christmas season visitor count will double.
Strolling through the Zones
With all three new attractions of Santa’s All-Star Christmas “done,” and the finale fireworks display still more than an hour away, I decided to make one more round through all the zones. Hoping on rides here and there whenever lines are short. Be it USS or other theme parks I’ve visited, this is usually my favourite time of the evening. Crowds are much thinner. There’s also a certain romanticism in the air with the lights and cool air. Last but not least, there’s a sort of urgency, as in, the evening is ending soon so there is that compulsion to make the most of it. This probably sounds frustrating in writing, but it is actually a very pleasant sort of tingle. Akin to how one feels on the final evening of a great vacation. You want more. You don’t want it to end. But you don’t really experience excessive regret, when it does finish.
The finale, like previous years, is of course, the fireworks. And like previous years, crowds were already gathering around the man-made lake half an hour before show time. With everywhere still wet from the rain, it was a little unpleasant waiting among so many people. Worse, the only decent place I managed to get was next to the smoking corner. Thankfully, the fiery display more than made up for the wait. It was a little short, five minutes or so I think. But it was a befitting end to USS’ Santa’s All-Star Christmas.
Lastly, souvenirs from Santa’s All-Star Christmas 2016. Not very Christmas-y, yes …
Yet another ritual-within-a-ritual of mine. I always buy a souvenir from the shop in the Ancient Egypt zone whenever I visit. Prices seem to have dropped this year, so I bought two this time. The smaller one is Bastet, the Egyptian Cat Goddess. The larger figurine is Jiboshin Isis. Mother of Horus the Sky God. The real Isis, that is, not the murderous band of brigands still rampaging around the world. My Christmas wish for this year. Let humanity be rid of those monsters in 2017. For good too. May peace and empathy be the guiding light of our world. Not warfare and strife, which have never proven to work.