Mystery Shopper - River tales | attractionsmanagement.com
POST YOUR JOB ONLINE
Free ezine/digital edition sign up
Jobs . News . Features . Video . Products . Magazine . Handbook . Advertise . Contact us  
Mystery Shopper
River tales

Jennifer Harbottle explores Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park with her family to find out if a day-trip to the attraction is all plain sailing

By Jennifer Harbottle | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 1

River Safari is the newest addition to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s portfolio of parks, which includes Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park.

Built on 12 hectares on a site next door to the zoo and Night Safari, the premise of River Safari is to showcase freshwater habitats from eight iconic waterways such as the Amazon River, Mekong River and the River Nile. Claire Chiang, chair of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, says River Safari aims to “highlight the importance of freshwater ecosystems and inspire people to think about ways to conserve the world’s waterways.” The park will be involved in a global captive breeding programme for endangered freshwater species, like the giant river otter and the manatee.

The attraction is made up of two main experiences; Rivers Of The World, which is a series of walk-through freshwater exhibits about the animals and cultures from each of the eight river habitats, and The Amazon River Quest boat ride, which takes guests along a 483m (1584 ft) man-made river to discover the animal species that live along the edges of the Amazon. The park claims to house one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals, including 5,000 animal specimens and 150 plant species. It is also home to Kai Kai and Jia Jia, a pair of giant pandas that live in an exhibit along the Yangtze River zone.

According to Chiang, the original idea behind River Safari was to create a simple aquarium exhibit. Wildlife Reserves Singapore thought a freshwater aquarium would complement the offerings of its Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

The final concept for River Safari was agreed in 2006. Construction of the S$150m (£73m, E87m, US$119m) project began in 2010. Rivers Of The World opened in April 2013 and the Amazon River Quest ride in December 2013.

The offer
The first part of the attraction takes guests on a journey of the major rivers of the world. It starts at the Mississippi River, where you can see beavers, alligators and paddlefish. Walking on, you get to the Congo River, home to colourful fishes and the dwarf crocodile. At the River Nile gallery, exhibits include the fearsome-looking African tigerfish with dagger-like teeth, while in The Ganges exhibit, there’s the goonch catfish, with its reputation for attacking humans!

Along the Murray River, guests can learn how Australia is managing its river systems to stem the loss of its freshwater fish, before heading to the Mekong River which features an aquarium with a large underwater view of mega-fishes like the Mekong giant catfish.

Stunning scenic backdrops of China’s highlands frame the Yangtze River exhibit where visitors can view the critically endangered Yangtze alligator and the world’s largest amphibian –the Chinese giant salamander.

From here, the highlight of the walk-through galleries is the Giant Panda Forest biodome, where you get to see giant pandas, red pandas and golden pheasants. Built at a cost of S$8.6m (£4.1m, E5m, US$6.7m), it’s the largest panda exhibit in Southeast Asia.

In the second part of the attraction, Wild Amazonia has three main exhibits; Amazon River Quest boat ride, Squirrel Monkey Forest and the Amazon Flooded Forest. At the Amazon River Quest, visitors hop on a slow open-top boat ride down the Amazon River, where they see monkeys and exotic birds before entering a dark cave to see the South American jaguar, and disembarking for a walk around Squirrel Monkey Forest.Finally, the Amazon Flooded Forest is a multi-level exhibit, which includes the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, where visitors can see manatees and other creatures through a 22 x 4m (72 x 13ft) viewing window, with a view from the bottom of the forest floor up to the water’s surface.

Ticketing
The ticketing booth services the zoo and Night Safari so it can get busy in peak times. A proper queuing system has been set up to avoid queue jumping and there are plenty of staff members to help with queries while you wait, so buying tickets doesn’t take too long. You can buy a single visit ticket for River Safari or purchase a Park Hopper ticket for one, two or three of the group’s other attractions. Park Hoppers entitle guests to one visit per park within 30 days of purchase. Unlimited membership is available and tickets can be pre-purchased online to avoid queues.

Food and beverage
At the main entrance to the three parks, there are a number of F&B franchises, but if you want to wait until you’re inside the park to eat, quality is top notch, but choice is more limited.

The main dining area is the River Safari Tea House, a quaint teahouse setting located at the Entrance Plaza. The menu offers over 60 different regional Chinese dishes. Next to the Giant Panda Forest is the park’s other main eatery, called Mama Panda Kitchen. It features Szechuan-inspired cuisine such as bamboo rice, prawn dumplings and panda-shaped buns or ‘paos’. Guests can hire a private dining area with a view of the pandas at an additional cost.

Retail
The House of Kai Kai and Jia Jia is a bamboo-themed shop house located next to the Giant Pandas featuring panda merchandise. The park’s main retail outlet is the River Safari Shop at the Entrance Plaza. It sells furry toys, fish and all sorts of water-themed goodies and gifts and photos taken at various photo points along the way.

The staff
Plenty of park staff are on hand should you need advice on where to go or what to do on your visit. The park follows a one-way direction for most of the attraction, so it’s a case of following the path to see everything on offer. English is rarely a barrier in Singapore and staff members are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product.
Cleanliness
Singapore is known for its cleanliness and this is a good thing in a visitor attraction. Because the park has just opened, maintenance isn’t an issue yet, but hot humid conditions and water-based attractions tend to weather quickly in Asia so it will be interesting to see how signboards and fencing stand up over time.

Our experience
I must confess that Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari are two of my favourite wildlife visitor attractions. When I lived in Singapore, I was a regular visitor to both parks as well as Jurong Bird Park.

On a recent Singapore weekend getaway from Malaysia with my family, I was excited to experience River Safari but also interested to see whether it could live up to the reputation set by its sister parks which set the benchmark for animal attractions in South-East Asia.

Rivers aren’t really my thing, as I’m more fascinated by ocean animals and my three children weren’t overly excited by the prospect of otters and cod. That said, the pandas were raising the squeal quota in the car as we set off first thing.

The experience really begins at the River Safari Entrance Plaza. Here, you can make use of a range of services, including stroller hire, restaurant bookings and park information. The River Safari Quest boat ride wasn’t yet open to the public when we visited, so we were told the attraction would take a couple of hours to visit. Actually, we were there for three hours and could have even spent longer.

In the Rivers Of The World walk through, we learned about river conservation, and the fact a cultural element is brought into each zone makes it much more fun. Learning about the spiritual side of the Ganges and it’s sacred waters, for instance, is a bonus you don’t expect at a nature attraction.

The panda bears are definitely the main attraction at the park, which is food for thought given it’s a river attraction. At feeding time when we visited their enclosure, we got so close to Kai Kai and Jia Jia it was like having a front row seat at a Kung Fu Panda movie.

The keepers deliberately spread out activities for the bears to encourage them to romp all over their pen and this gave almost all the spectators who were gathered a great view.

We chose to eat at Mama Panda Kitchen for lunch where they dish up red bean buns decorated as panda bears in little bamboo steamers. Our girls loved them, and for S$6 (£3, E3, US$5) they were really good value for money. Sadly, most other visitors thought so too and the queues in the restaurant were horrendous and the staff totally overwhelmed.

Summary
The attraction still needs to develop its storyline further so it clearly differentiates itself as a river-themed offer: currently it risks being perceived as a poor relation to Sentosa’s new aquarium. However, overall it’s a great day out, and in terms of operations and quality, it meets the high standards of existing attractions in the portfolio.



LOCATION
River Safari is located in the north of Singapore, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre. On the park’s website, it even includes a tracker so you can estimate time and cost if you travel by car, taxi, bus or MRT.

OPENING HOURS
9am – 6pm, 365 days a year. The River Safari Tea House closes at 8pm.

ADMISSION PRICES
Adult tickets cost S$25 (£12, E14, US$20), child S$16 (£8, E9, US$13). The Park Hopper 4-in-1 is S$89 (£42, E51, US$70) for adults and S$58 (£27, E33, US$45) for children.


Green credentials
River Safari is the first attraction in Singapore to be given the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award in the Park category. Located next to Singapore’s Seletar Reservoir, the attraction has been built to minimise disruption to existing habitats around the area, including the construction of green corridors for wild animals. Engineering features include bioswales designed to collect rainwater runoff from roofs and footpaths to provide clean homes for native animals such as frogs, dragonflies and other aquatic animals.

WHAT’S THE SCORE?
Toilets 10
Staff 9
Cleanliness 10
Experience 7
Value for money 7
Overall experience 9
The park is involved in a captive breeding scheme for species like the giant river otter
On the Amazon River Quest, visitors hop on a slow, open-topped boat ride
The Wild Amazonia section includes a view of the South American jaguar
The park is teaming with animal life, including the Scarlet Ibis
The park is teaming with animal life, including Caribbean flamingoes
The park is teaming with animal life, including a Brazilian tapir
Visitors can learn about the culture surrounding rivers, like that of the Indian Ganges
The pandas are the main attraction – visitors can also buy panda gifts and eat at Mama Panda Kitchen
The attraction is believed to include the world’s largest freshwater aquarium
COMPANY PROFILE
WhiteWater

WhiteWater was born in 1980 to create places where families unite and make joyful lasting [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

NEMO Science Museum shares its customer experience philosophy
What could possibly go wrong with a science museum that gets more visitors year after year? [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion - VR/5D Films Showreel 2016
Red Raion is the first made-in-Italy VR/5D movie production company, for your most advanced theaters and simulators. Enjoy some samples from their movies produced in 2016! Find out more...
More videos:
Red Raion: Meet the Team - Introduction – Red Raion
Simworx - The power to move you… – Simworx
Online Print Made Easy! – instantprint
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
ATTRACTIONS DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
ATTRACTIONS DIARY

06 Jun 2019

Swiss Medical Spa & Hospitality Think Tank 2019

Campus Passugg, SSTH, 7062 Passugg, Switzerland
11-14 Jun 2019

IAAPA Expo Asia 2019

Shanghai New International Expo Center, Shanghai, China
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

Attractions Management

2019 issue 1


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2018 issue 4


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2018 issue 3


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2018 issue 2


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management News

15 May 2019 issue 130


View on turning pages
Download PDF
View archive
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Handbook

2019


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019
Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Mystery Shopper
River tales

Jennifer Harbottle explores Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park with her family to find out if a day-trip to the attraction is all plain sailing

By Jennifer Harbottle | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 1

River Safari is the newest addition to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s portfolio of parks, which includes Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park.

Built on 12 hectares on a site next door to the zoo and Night Safari, the premise of River Safari is to showcase freshwater habitats from eight iconic waterways such as the Amazon River, Mekong River and the River Nile. Claire Chiang, chair of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, says River Safari aims to “highlight the importance of freshwater ecosystems and inspire people to think about ways to conserve the world’s waterways.” The park will be involved in a global captive breeding programme for endangered freshwater species, like the giant river otter and the manatee.

The attraction is made up of two main experiences; Rivers Of The World, which is a series of walk-through freshwater exhibits about the animals and cultures from each of the eight river habitats, and The Amazon River Quest boat ride, which takes guests along a 483m (1584 ft) man-made river to discover the animal species that live along the edges of the Amazon. The park claims to house one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals, including 5,000 animal specimens and 150 plant species. It is also home to Kai Kai and Jia Jia, a pair of giant pandas that live in an exhibit along the Yangtze River zone.

According to Chiang, the original idea behind River Safari was to create a simple aquarium exhibit. Wildlife Reserves Singapore thought a freshwater aquarium would complement the offerings of its Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

The final concept for River Safari was agreed in 2006. Construction of the S$150m (£73m, E87m, US$119m) project began in 2010. Rivers Of The World opened in April 2013 and the Amazon River Quest ride in December 2013.

The offer
The first part of the attraction takes guests on a journey of the major rivers of the world. It starts at the Mississippi River, where you can see beavers, alligators and paddlefish. Walking on, you get to the Congo River, home to colourful fishes and the dwarf crocodile. At the River Nile gallery, exhibits include the fearsome-looking African tigerfish with dagger-like teeth, while in The Ganges exhibit, there’s the goonch catfish, with its reputation for attacking humans!

Along the Murray River, guests can learn how Australia is managing its river systems to stem the loss of its freshwater fish, before heading to the Mekong River which features an aquarium with a large underwater view of mega-fishes like the Mekong giant catfish.

Stunning scenic backdrops of China’s highlands frame the Yangtze River exhibit where visitors can view the critically endangered Yangtze alligator and the world’s largest amphibian –the Chinese giant salamander.

From here, the highlight of the walk-through galleries is the Giant Panda Forest biodome, where you get to see giant pandas, red pandas and golden pheasants. Built at a cost of S$8.6m (£4.1m, E5m, US$6.7m), it’s the largest panda exhibit in Southeast Asia.

In the second part of the attraction, Wild Amazonia has three main exhibits; Amazon River Quest boat ride, Squirrel Monkey Forest and the Amazon Flooded Forest. At the Amazon River Quest, visitors hop on a slow open-top boat ride down the Amazon River, where they see monkeys and exotic birds before entering a dark cave to see the South American jaguar, and disembarking for a walk around Squirrel Monkey Forest.Finally, the Amazon Flooded Forest is a multi-level exhibit, which includes the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, where visitors can see manatees and other creatures through a 22 x 4m (72 x 13ft) viewing window, with a view from the bottom of the forest floor up to the water’s surface.

Ticketing
The ticketing booth services the zoo and Night Safari so it can get busy in peak times. A proper queuing system has been set up to avoid queue jumping and there are plenty of staff members to help with queries while you wait, so buying tickets doesn’t take too long. You can buy a single visit ticket for River Safari or purchase a Park Hopper ticket for one, two or three of the group’s other attractions. Park Hoppers entitle guests to one visit per park within 30 days of purchase. Unlimited membership is available and tickets can be pre-purchased online to avoid queues.

Food and beverage
At the main entrance to the three parks, there are a number of F&B franchises, but if you want to wait until you’re inside the park to eat, quality is top notch, but choice is more limited.

The main dining area is the River Safari Tea House, a quaint teahouse setting located at the Entrance Plaza. The menu offers over 60 different regional Chinese dishes. Next to the Giant Panda Forest is the park’s other main eatery, called Mama Panda Kitchen. It features Szechuan-inspired cuisine such as bamboo rice, prawn dumplings and panda-shaped buns or ‘paos’. Guests can hire a private dining area with a view of the pandas at an additional cost.

Retail
The House of Kai Kai and Jia Jia is a bamboo-themed shop house located next to the Giant Pandas featuring panda merchandise. The park’s main retail outlet is the River Safari Shop at the Entrance Plaza. It sells furry toys, fish and all sorts of water-themed goodies and gifts and photos taken at various photo points along the way.

The staff
Plenty of park staff are on hand should you need advice on where to go or what to do on your visit. The park follows a one-way direction for most of the attraction, so it’s a case of following the path to see everything on offer. English is rarely a barrier in Singapore and staff members are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product.
Cleanliness
Singapore is known for its cleanliness and this is a good thing in a visitor attraction. Because the park has just opened, maintenance isn’t an issue yet, but hot humid conditions and water-based attractions tend to weather quickly in Asia so it will be interesting to see how signboards and fencing stand up over time.

Our experience
I must confess that Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari are two of my favourite wildlife visitor attractions. When I lived in Singapore, I was a regular visitor to both parks as well as Jurong Bird Park.

On a recent Singapore weekend getaway from Malaysia with my family, I was excited to experience River Safari but also interested to see whether it could live up to the reputation set by its sister parks which set the benchmark for animal attractions in South-East Asia.

Rivers aren’t really my thing, as I’m more fascinated by ocean animals and my three children weren’t overly excited by the prospect of otters and cod. That said, the pandas were raising the squeal quota in the car as we set off first thing.

The experience really begins at the River Safari Entrance Plaza. Here, you can make use of a range of services, including stroller hire, restaurant bookings and park information. The River Safari Quest boat ride wasn’t yet open to the public when we visited, so we were told the attraction would take a couple of hours to visit. Actually, we were there for three hours and could have even spent longer.

In the Rivers Of The World walk through, we learned about river conservation, and the fact a cultural element is brought into each zone makes it much more fun. Learning about the spiritual side of the Ganges and it’s sacred waters, for instance, is a bonus you don’t expect at a nature attraction.

The panda bears are definitely the main attraction at the park, which is food for thought given it’s a river attraction. At feeding time when we visited their enclosure, we got so close to Kai Kai and Jia Jia it was like having a front row seat at a Kung Fu Panda movie.

The keepers deliberately spread out activities for the bears to encourage them to romp all over their pen and this gave almost all the spectators who were gathered a great view.

We chose to eat at Mama Panda Kitchen for lunch where they dish up red bean buns decorated as panda bears in little bamboo steamers. Our girls loved them, and for S$6 (£3, E3, US$5) they were really good value for money. Sadly, most other visitors thought so too and the queues in the restaurant were horrendous and the staff totally overwhelmed.

Summary
The attraction still needs to develop its storyline further so it clearly differentiates itself as a river-themed offer: currently it risks being perceived as a poor relation to Sentosa’s new aquarium. However, overall it’s a great day out, and in terms of operations and quality, it meets the high standards of existing attractions in the portfolio.



LOCATION
River Safari is located in the north of Singapore, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre. On the park’s website, it even includes a tracker so you can estimate time and cost if you travel by car, taxi, bus or MRT.

OPENING HOURS
9am – 6pm, 365 days a year. The River Safari Tea House closes at 8pm.

ADMISSION PRICES
Adult tickets cost S$25 (£12, E14, US$20), child S$16 (£8, E9, US$13). The Park Hopper 4-in-1 is S$89 (£42, E51, US$70) for adults and S$58 (£27, E33, US$45) for children.


Green credentials
River Safari is the first attraction in Singapore to be given the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award in the Park category. Located next to Singapore’s Seletar Reservoir, the attraction has been built to minimise disruption to existing habitats around the area, including the construction of green corridors for wild animals. Engineering features include bioswales designed to collect rainwater runoff from roofs and footpaths to provide clean homes for native animals such as frogs, dragonflies and other aquatic animals.

WHAT’S THE SCORE?
Toilets 10
Staff 9
Cleanliness 10
Experience 7
Value for money 7
Overall experience 9
The park is involved in a captive breeding scheme for species like the giant river otter
On the Amazon River Quest, visitors hop on a slow, open-topped boat ride
The Wild Amazonia section includes a view of the South American jaguar
The park is teaming with animal life, including the Scarlet Ibis
The park is teaming with animal life, including Caribbean flamingoes
The park is teaming with animal life, including a Brazilian tapir
Visitors can learn about the culture surrounding rivers, like that of the Indian Ganges
The pandas are the main attraction – visitors can also buy panda gifts and eat at Mama Panda Kitchen
The attraction is believed to include the world’s largest freshwater aquarium
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS