So, you've been traveling through Southeast Asia and you've saved a little extra cash to have a civilization break in Singapore. Functioning wi-fi, ubiquitous western food, and a trip to a theme park is on the menu for the next few days. Ahhhhh, how sweet it is to be able to drink water out of the tap, have ice in your Big Gulp and speak to the locals in English (and actually have them understand you). The ticket to Universal Studios is a bit pricey for your budget, but you only live once. However, as far as this theme park is concerned, the ticket is only the tip of the iceberg. Once they get you through the gate, they want you to spend as much as possible and they've hidden little costs around the park to keep your wallet hemorrhaging Sing dollars. This article is to give fair warning to any budget conscious traveler like myself.
Tickets--Ticket prices vary throughout the year and it's best to avoid the peak season (Mid-November to the end of the year). Stay away during weekends and holidays. Not only do prices go up, but the place is packed. Tickets are always cheaper on the weekday and you can purchase them in advance at 7-11 with no additional charge. Remember! You want to get there as soon as the park opens to get to the popular rides and the ticket lines can be long even on a weekday.
Water-The good news is that most of the waiting for rides is done in shade or inside a large building. The bad news is that most of the walking paths are not protected from the Malaysian sun. Plan way ahead to bring a good-sized bottle of water with you to the park. Get it when you leave the guesthouse in the morning because once you reach Harborfront or Sentosa the price of a small bottle of water goes up astronomically. Now, in the park, there are water fountains. You can refill here as well as get a sadistic chuckle out of watching the Malaysians or PRC Chinese try to figure out how to use the darn things.
Roller Coasters- They don't allow loose articles on roller coasters (Battlestar Galactica, The Mummy). You have to put your bags, hats, sunglasses, and wallets into a locker which is only free for the first half-hour. BOO! After that, it's two dollars every half-hour with a limit of 20 dollars. When the park gets crowded in the afternoon, the first hour is free, etc. Either you run back and switch lockers after every ride, which is what my friend and I did, or you end up paying a lot of extra money depending on how many times you want to ride. It is possible to get through the line a little faster if you opt for the single-rider lane, but you and your buddies could end up finishing at different times.
Food- Do you want to eat cheaply? Then don't buy anything in the park! I know the popcorn smells tempting and the kiddies look happy with their ice cream, but show a little self-discipline and wait on that stuff until you get back to the 7-11 near your hostel! There is a Malaysian-style hawker market just outside of the park and the prices are reasonable. After you've had your fill of G-forces and have cooled down in the Shrek 4D experience, you're energy reserves will be low and the Hainanese-style chicken and rice will hit the spot. Just make sure that you get your hand stamped upon leaving the park so that you can get back in. Also, consider getting an ice coffee at the kopitiam. The combination of sugar and caffeine will give you one last boost of energy to go queue for the Transformers ride again. Speaking from personal experience, this ride is much much better during a caffeine high.
Enjoying your day at Universal Studios doesn't have to deplete your budget. This is information I wish that someone had given me before I went to the park. If you plan properly, it's a great experience and it'll give you bragging rights at the next hostel on the backpacker trail. "Who cares if you got to go to Uluru! I got to go to Universal Studios. You got to see an old aborigine. I got to see Optimus Prime!" Have fun "riding the movies"!