For some adults, theme parks can be like reliving childhood. For others, they can seem like pure torture. But there is no doubt that even if visiting a theme park is right at the bottom of your to-do list of family holiday destinations (or not even on it at all), it is the ultimate kids holiday and your children will love for you for taking them. And you might even find that, despite all the over-the-top kitsch, you will actually have fun. You just need to make sure to select the right one for you. Here's the suitcases&strollers travel advisor for theme parks in Asia.
Tokyo DisneySea, Japan
No one does a theme park quite like Disney. There is something magical about all the tiny details that are always taken care of, the cleanliness and the friendliness of the staff. Theme Park Guy, in an interview with suitcases&strollers, has named this as the best theme park in the world. For adults, it is particularly cool because you can drink beer in the actual park. The rides tend to be better for older kids but it is still a nice park to walk around in, with pretty waterscapes as a backdrop, with quite a few choices for boat and water rides.
Though it can get crowded, the park-goers (mostly Japanese rather than foreign tourists) are well mannered and not pushy at all compared to what you can experience at other theme parks. Still, you can queue for quite a long time, so it does pay to invest in a FASTPASS if you are serious about getting on as many rides as possible such as Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull and Raging Spirits.
Universal Studios Singapore, Singapore
It’s compact in size which makes it really easy to move around with kids, but still packed with attractions. Singapore’s most famous theme park is an enjoyable place for the whole family. For adults,their signature Battlestar Galatica rides and the brilliant TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle are fun even for adults who love thrill-seeking. For medium-sized people there are smaller junior roller coasters like Enchanted Airways which is a good introduction to rides for kids. Revenge of the Mummy is also (hilariously) scary. There is even enough entertainment for babies from the merry-go-round to the wonderfully witty and clever Sesame Street characters. Whilst it's just shy of meeting a Disney standard, Universal Studios Singapore is extremely well put together which means everyone will have a great day out.
If you really want to spoil the kids and have a bit of extra time, consider spending a couple of days exploring the other attractions at Sentosa – Singapore’s premiere family tourist destination. The island is highly contrived, but the kids really won’t care. Instead, they will love the water park Port Of Lost Wonder, Skyline Sentosa Singapore Luge, iFly and the beaches.
purchasing a 2-Day Play Pass which includes the ticket prices for Universal
Studios and stay in one of the many resorts on the island. (It is worth investing in the Universal Express as queues can be long and boring, especially in the heat.) The Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa has particularly
impressive kids’ facilities.
To read more about the other attractions at Sentosa, read the suitcases&strollers story here.
This is one mixed-up park, in a good way. It’s a zoo, a theme park and an aquarium, all rolled into one.
Let’s start with the animals which are ideal for entertaining younger children. They have giant pandas and the Chinese red panda, Arctic foxes, sea lions and seals performing tricks. A bird show with owls, parrots and eagles aplenty. There’s an aquarium showcasing the biodiversity of the Yangtze River and, at Goldlfish Treasures, you will find rare, expensive and weird-looking goldfish.
There are wild rides which will require some courage from both kids and adults. If the cliff-hanging, over-the-water speeding cars seem too much for you, there’s also Whiskers Harbour where there are toddler-friendly rides, bouncy castles and a lovely playground for the little ones. The cable car ride (which links the Harbor area to the Summit) is stunning with gorgeous views of the sea and the park. Plus there is the Ocean Express train that simulates a trip under the sea which is pretty impressive.
Ocean Park can get busy, but there are more than enough attractions to fill a day and tire the whole family out.
LEGOLAND Malaysia, Malaysia
LEGOLANDs are designed with kids under 12 in mind, so all the rides are made just for them including the scariest – The Dragon rollercoaster. This does mean it’s not really a theme park for adults – there are only a few things to do that grown-ups will really enjoy; most of the fun comes out of watching the kids have a ball. That being said, LEGOLAND Malaysia is also less atmospheric than the experts at Disney and Universal, so there is not that much to see if your kids aren’t big enough to get on the rides.
In general, LEGOLAND Malaysia works best for kids aged between 3 to 12. (Teens are likely to find it too lame and boring.) Several of the rides have a few different options for particular age groups. For instance, there is a very basic self-ride driving course perfect for three- to six-year-olds, then a larger one complete with traffic lights for more mature children. Similarly, toddlers have a dedicated train while the entire family is more likely to enjoy the larger train the runs through Miniland. And right next to The Dragon roller coaster is The Dragon’s Apprentice which is more suitable for aspiring but younger riders.
But despite these specifics, it is a novelty to see all the LEGO-inspired rides, such as the ridiculously cute Royal Joust.
For kids who don’t like rides there is Miniland (full of LEGO-sized replicas of world-famous architecture made out of LEGO) and LEGO Academy (an indoor room literally full of LEGO). The 4D Movie Xperience is a pleasant surprise for smaller children who haven’t been inside a 4D cinema before.
Right next door is the newly opened LEGOLAND Water Park which is at least one day’s worth of activity in itself. There are waterslides and water play areas suitable for every age group and it makes for a fantastic break from the heat of the day.
Altogether, the main park and water park can easily make up a weekend’s worth of entertainment, so it’s worth considering staying at least one night in the very cool LEGOLAND Hotel. There the LEGO theme continues and bricks are even supplied in the rooms so the kids can keep playing after dark.
This is the first and currently only LEGOLAND in Asia servicing two countries (Singapore and Malaysia) so it gets incredibly crowded during the peak of the day. It is also extremely hot, so it’s best to visit right on opening or after 4pm when the heat of the day has passed.
To see more photos inside LEGOLAND Malaysia, the LEGOLAND Water Park and the LEGOLAND Hotel, read the suitcases&strollers story LEGOLAND Malaysia, In Pictures.
Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park, Malaysia
If you’re based in Singapore or Southern Malaysia with small toddlers, this is the perfect alternative to the other more expensive parks targeted at older kids. The theme park is all indoors so the weather is not a factor, which is useful for extremely young children.
The second floor, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town, is entirely dedicated to the bright pink franchise that little girls will adore. It has a completely separate entrance fee from the third and fourth floors (called The Little Big Club) which are spread across more gender neutral characters such as Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder.
This is ideal for under 6s as there are indoor playground facilities and live shows for littlies, then rides like spinning tea cups, a basic train, ferris wheel and dodgem cars for pre-schoolers. For older children this might seem all too tame, but if you’re looking for an entertaining day out for small kids, this is not a bad option.
Just be prepared for the noise – the place is little more than a space filled with rides and not too many fancy extras so the acoustics of all the canned music and squealing children does require a little adult patience.
To read more about amusement parks with kids, read the suitcases&strollers interview with The Theme Park Guy
Images: Singapore Tourism Board