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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Dinosaur encounter at Universal Studios Singapore

FOR a limited time only, visitors to Universal Studios Singapore will be treated to several spectacular dinosaur-themed experiences at the all-new Jurassic World: Explore and Roar.

A series of stunt-filled adventures—including a live-action show, an AR (augmented reality) experience, and an interactive raptor training session—round out this temporary event that awaits guests of the sprawling theme park within Resorts World Sentosa.

In early June, I received a sweet invite from Resorts World Sentosa to tour the integrated resort and to see in person this much-awaited Jurassic World event. To prepare for my visit, I watched the movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. But the team at Universal Studios Singapore worked hard to make sure that even if visitors did not see the film, enjoyment of the attractions would not be diminished in any way. Along with my packable poncho, I braved some heavy rains to get a first-hand look at the Jurassic World event. Here are my three favorites:

Jurassic World: Roar!

This live-action show starts with an introduction to two Jurassic World team members: Miles, who is the head of security, and Elizabeth, the park director. Within minutes, things go haywire as violent dinosaurs escape the surrounding portable containment units. A dozen Pteranodons (flying reptiles with kite-like bodies and long beaks), a life-sized Velociraptor (the deadly, smart and long-tailed dinosaur prominent in the Jurassic films) and a giant T. rex terrify the unsuspecting crowd.

With a stage expertly painted with gray and bold orange accents, sharp metal decor and bright yellow “Danger” signs, it’s easy to guess that Jurassic World: Roar! is one of Universal Studios Singapore’s must-sees. “This is one of our biggest day-time stages with cutting-edge robotics,” says Resorts World Sentosa communications executive, Jonathan Yu. My favorite part of this fast-paced show is when a character, dressed as a soldier, falls off a 10-foot ledge. The performance runs several times a day, starting at 1:30 p.m.

Raptor training schedule

There is a poignant scene in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom where raptor trainer Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) bonds with Blue, who is a highly intelligent Velociraptor. Visitors get the opportunity to re-enact this scene in the immersive Raptor Training School where they can come face-to-face with a life-sized raptor. Within 20-minutes, guests will learn practical tips on how to face this dangerous dinosaur and learn the creature’s quirks such as its ultra-sharp sense of smell.

The Velociraptor is as life-like as possible when it twists, bites, and jumps as kids and adults alike are kept a safe distance away. This is a testament to how the Universal Studios team labored over every detail. “Is it real?,” said one little girl with an Australian accent. “Come closer to check,” answered Wyatt, the tall, brown-eyed Singaporean raptor trainer. Walking back carefully, the girl retreated and hugged her mom instead. Raptor Training runs three to four times a day, near the entrance to Lost World. Slots are limited, so registration is encouraged.

Jurassic Encounter

The Jurassic Encounter is one of the crowd-favorite augmented reality attractions that can be enjoyed all day long without show times or registration. Stationed in front of the New York Public Library, this area is where guests can interact with creatures such as a T.rex, a three-horned face Triceratops, some lizard-eating Compsognathus, and other gargantuan dinosaurs in close proximity.

I saw two Indian men walk up to the “X” sign on the floor and break out in laughter as a Triceratops nuzzled their faces. A few moments later, a T. rex popped in the picture, destroying its ominous-looking virtual jail. The dinosaurs either play with or chase the humans. Jurassic Encounter is the most photogenic of all the Jurassic programs, as guests and other spectators whip out their phones and take pictures of the giant screen showing augmented reality (AR) fun.

I have watched the original 1993 Jurassic Park film by Steven Spielberg. The jungle habitat of prehistoric dinosaurs that was lush and mountainous on-screen never left my memory. On a recent trip to Kauai, Hawaii, I mumbled to myself: “It’s like Jurassic Park in here.” It turned out that the classic film was indeed shot in that exact location in the Allerton Gardens where I was standing.

It’s a tall order to recreate a world of dinosaurs with the same jaw-dropping and immersive experience as the seminal film, but the theme park is as close as it gets. My excursion had lots of memorable Jurassic-themed touchtones: life-sized dinosaur displays like the plate-backed Stegosaurus which moves and roars, and a few cool movie prop replicas such as the glass-encased Gyrosphere, now an iconic element to the film sequels.

Of course, Jurassic Explore and Roar is among few of the must-see attractions in Universal Studios Singapore. Earlier this year, the vast 20-hectare theme park also featured DreamWorks’ colorful and music-filled movie, Trolls. Universal Studios Singapore has 24 other rides and various attractions, including crowd favorites Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers: The Ride 3D, and Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure.


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