FIRST IMPRESSIONS: After years of watching the giant wheel rise from ground up, apathy turned into anticipation and excitement as I found myself queuing for a recent preview ride on the US$144 million Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay’s newest icon. To reach the site, one can opt for a brisk 20-minute walk from Raffles City (or City Hall MRT) or the Singapore Flyer shuttle (S$2 or US$1.44 per person, but advance arrangements necessary).
From the ticket booth, I found myself staring at what could only be regarded as an engineering feat, the criss-cross of white spokes holding together the wheel’s 150m diameter frame to which was attached 28 capsules – each the size of a bus. As this gigantic piece of machinery rotated, not a squeak could be heard assuring us of an ultra-smooth ride ahead.
BOARDING: After clearing the turnstile, customers pass through the “GR8” photo zone for a picture memento, but they should be forewarned: this comes with a price when collected at the souvenir shop at the end of the ride. Passengers are asked to wait on the boarding deck where each capsule (pictured above) pulls up and the doors open to allow them to step into air-conditioned interiors. Our boarding was conducted in an unhurried and well-paced manner.
THE EXPERIENCE: The Flyer began its journey in so unobtrusive a way that we weren’t even sure we had actually pushed off. It was really when the view before us started to expand that we were convinced we were moving.
At 165m – currently highest in the world (and 30m taller than the London Eye) – this attraction allows a good 360º spectacle of Marina Bay and beyond. Within the immediate vicinity, we could see the Greek Theatre (one of the venues at the attraction), Singapore River and other landmarks such as the Merlion, Esplanade, CBD skyline, Marina Bay golf course and Kallang Basin where water sports usually take place. Those specks on the horizon were Indonesia’s Riau Islands.
We could also make out the site of the soon-to-be Marina Bay Sands casino complex. As the Flyer reached its peak and then began to descend, we espied the Formula One water-side race track and paddock being set up for the Singtel Formula One Grand Prix in September. With clear skies, it was indeed the perfect ride.
EXTRAS: A regular Singapore Flyer ticket consists of just the ride with no frills; an Express Boarding ticket comes with an inflight guide; and the Signature Cocktail Flight with an exclusive whiskey-based cocktail. The fun doesn’t have to stop after the ride. At the retail terminal is a slew of shops and restaurants, offering both proper dining and fast food.
VERDICT: The Singapore Flyer folks may cringe when hearing the public calling their attraction a “ferris wheel”, but it can’t be helped since the experience rekindles childlike joy, even if that lasts for only for 30 minutes.
PRICE: S$29.50 (US$21.25) per adult ticket for the basic Singapore Flight, S$52 (US$37.45) per adult for an Express Boarding (to include an inflight guide); S$69 (US$49.70) per adult for the Signature Cocktail Flight to include a whiskey-based cocktail concoction. Fancy having the entire capsule for yourself or for a private event? It can be booked.
CONTACT: Ticketing and other information is available on www.singaporeflyer.com.sg
Goh Chui Peng