Marina Bay Carnival

15th January 2018

My job requires me to travel to Singapore every few months, and though the majority of visits include part of a weekend for jet lag recovery they generally remain coaster free. At one stage I thought seriously about buying a season pass for Universal Studios Singapore, but that plan fell by the wayside after my visit in 2016 when shoddy operations and overly paranoid use of metal detectors put me off the park entirely. Since then I've developed a routine for my free days in country that combines a late start, a few hours in the gym, a relaxing afternoon in a Gold Class Cinema, and an early dinner – a combination infinitely more appealing then dealing with mandatory locker policies at a crowded theme park in eighty percent humidity.

Some weeks ago one of my colleagues alerted me to the Prudential Marina Bay Carnival, a three and a half month long event billed as the largest fair in Singaporean history. My immediate thought was that this must be a joint effort from local providers J'Kids Amusement and Uncle Ringo, neither of whom own coasters, but further research revealed it to something much more exciting: a selection of machines owned by UK-based showmen that have been touring around Asia for a number of years. The locals were evidently excited too; the first few opening days saw 250,000 people pass through the gates, and though things have calmed somewhat since then there is no doubt that the promoters will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Marina Bay

The rides have been set up on two dedicated event spaces located roughly three hundred metres apart in the shadow of the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel. The first set is targeted predominantly at children, though that area includes both a thirty-five metre tall Star Flyer and a concert stage. The second set is more interesting for the average enthusiast, in that it includes a Booster, Dodgems, Flying Elephants, a Log Flume, a Pirate Ship, and two roller coasters. Euro Coaster (#2416) is the bigger of the two, being a fairly standard Galaxi-style attraction that tracked fairly well despite being afflicted with completely unnecessary over-the-shoulder restraints. The five cars on track were decorated with different European flags, and the theming package was complemented by twenty foot high models of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben.

Sharky & the Pirates (#2417) was if anything even better looking than its neighbour, thanks to theme elements set both inside and outside the track boundaries. One of the fiberglass pirates looked to have been heavily influenced by Captain Jack Sparrow, and perhaps unsurprisingly it was a popular selfie spot for the locals; I ended up waiting almost five minutes to get a clear shot of it with my own camera. The ride experience was a little disappointing, as an overly aggressive brake on the drop slowed the train far more than normal for the genre, and this came to a head at the end of our three laps when we came to a dead halt with more than half of the train out of the station, forcing the lone operator to give it a push. This was never going to be particularly easy for a slightly-built woman who could not have weighed more than fifty kilos, though she managed it in the end.

The unexpected highlight of the evening was the Star Flyer, predominantly because the warm climate meant that there was no need to defrost after several minutes of swinging around at the heights. The cycle time was gratifyingly lengthy too, giving me plenty of time to appreciate the coloured lights of the surrounding area. I'd have ridden a second time if the tickets were a little cheaper, and I might just shoehorn in another go if I'm back in country before the event concludes.