Singapore Flyer no longer attractive to locals

From ‘Experts,  tour guides not surprised by Singapore Flyer receivership news’, 28 May 2013, article by Debbie Lee and Jessica Lim, ST

Analysts and tour agents were not altogether surprised when news broke on Tuesday evening that company that owns the Singapore Flyer had enter receivership just five years after it was launched.

…Analysts noted that the Singapore Flyer was not attractive to locals and did not encourage repeat visitors while tour agents also told The Straits Times that the ticket prices were too expensive and some had stopped taking tourists there.

Mr M. Loganathan, a tour guide, said that he prefers to take tourists to view Singapore’s scenery from buildings like the OUB building instead. “It’s cheaper so we earn more. At these places, tourists can stay as long as they want and take as many pictures as they want,” he said, adding that he suggests alternate locations to the Flyer to tourists the guides.

The Singapore Flyer project was formally announced and endorsed on June 27, 2003 by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the developer, Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, and STB.

While the attraction crossed the one-million mark in ticket sales in August 2008, it suffered several breakdowns including two major ones. On Dec 4 in 2008, the wheel was stuck for nearly five hours due to bad weather and some 70 people were stranded. A few weeks later on Dec 23, wheel stopped moving for more than six hours. Some 173 passengers on board were trapped and 11 passengers eventually had to be evacuated via a sling-like device from a few of the capsules, and those stranded were given food and drink. Following this breakdown, additional back-up systems costing about $3 million were installed.

The ‘analysts’ are right. I only ever took the Singapore Flyer once and that was the end of it. It explains the fancy add-ons to get people interested after their maiden voyage. A basic ride currently costs a whopping $33 for a half-hour rotation and entry into a ‘Journey of Dreams’ showcase. For twice that price ($69), you may experience a Moet and Chandon champagne flight, which includes bubbly in an ‘elegant tulip flute’ and strawberries and chocolate. For $99 you and your partner may enjoy – literally – HIGH tea. The problem with Flyer feasting is that you can’t enjoy afternoon delight or a romantic date at your own pace once the wheel hits the downturn. For the same amount I could have a more relaxing time at a buffet spread, with the luxury of a restroom so that I can drink and piss out as much tea as I want. And who needs a butler in that enclosed space anyway, unless he also doubles up as a serenading violinist or carries an emergency jetpack to shuttle passengers to safety in the event of disaster.

What the above article avoided reporting on past Flyer breakdowns was that the cause of wheel failure in Dec 2008 was a small ELECTRICAL FIRE, and that two passengers were subsequently HOSPITALISED. One Indonesian tourist who swore that he would never take the ride spoke of trapped riders URINATING into plastic bags while hanging in the air. Imagine if you’re stuck in a Moet Chandon package capsule and you had no other receptacle to relieve yourself than a tulip flute, and mere strawberries to stave your hunger. Just the thought of that remotely happening is enough for me to save that $33 for Kai Kai and Jia Jia instead. I’d rather see pandas do nothing for 15 minutes than twice that duration in a rotating deathtrap worrying about which side to jump from once the capsule catches fire. I sure as hell don’t want to land smack on the Esplanade.

But that’s not all. 2010 saw the Flyer being hit by LIGHTNING. A year later, a baby in a stroller rolled off the disembarkation platform 3 stories off the ground (but thankfully onto a safety net). But if you’re really unlucky, you may get half an hour of witnessing ridiculous couples fondle each other. At least you can disembark the MRT if such behaviour gives you nausea. On the Singapore Flyer there is NO escape. It gives ‘altitude sickness’ a whole new meaning. All the above, for $33 a pop and waiting in a queue for longer than the entire ride itself. In fact, even an illegal ticket at half price would be a hard sell in my opinion.

Despite the initial fanfare and optimism over the then TALLEST Observation Wheel in the World (30 m taller than the London Eye, but now overtaken by New York’s 190m High Roller ferris wheel), there were some voices in 2003 who called out the Flyer as a blatant copycat of the London icon, with the ST Forum using a telling subject header for one such letter: Singapore Flyer won’t Fly. 10 years on and the Flyer looks set to have its wings clipped as the naysayers predicted, its unpopularity coupled with problems within management.  I can imagine in 50 years if nobody could bear to tear down a $200 million dollar project, we could send some gardeners up there to seed the abandoned capsules and turn the entire structure in the world’s biggest vertical hanging tropical garden. Only THEN should the Management consider skyborne eateries, maybe a Kopitiam in the form of a spiralling tower selling hawker delights, a refreshing gastronomic SPIN on what’s previously a Ferris Wheel ride so boring you need to pay extra for booze to help get it over and done with.

We could rename the attraction – wait for it – the Singapore Fryer.

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One Response

  1. […] the financial heart rather than sucking it away. In December the same year, the icon was hit by an electrical fire, followed by a lightning strike in 2010. It’s also technically out of business as we speak. Of […]

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