A Singaporean mother’s 6 tips to maximise your visit to The Bicentennial Experience
You’ve probably already heard about the latest exhibition at the Fort Canning Centre, “From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience”. And if you haven’t gone yet, or are hesitant to go, then read on for these tips to make your visit there more pleasant.
(In case you were wondering, this article is completely non-sponsored and the visit was not part of some media exclusive invite. No, this was just me, a Singaporean mother dragging the fam bam down to make memories during the school holidays.)
From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience comprises a multimedia show at the Fort Canning Centre called Time Traveller, and a series of outdoor exhibitions at Fort Canning Park called Pathfinder.
Contrary to the advisory given on the website – that it is suitable for children from 5 years old and up – younger children will enjoy it. There was plenty of moving, and sufficiently varied experiences to keep them entertained for the entire 60-minute duration. That is, unless they have a sensitivity to strobe lights and small dark spaces – which has no age limitation – then they should steer clear.
In fact, I have a feeling my 4 month old baby – who has already sat through a full length feature film without screaming (i.e. Toy Story 4) – would probably have enjoyed it too. That said, I was too chicken to test fate twice (read up), so I will never know.
1. Book ahead
Before you head down, book your tickets. While it is quite clear from the website that limited slots are available, the organisers were still kind enough to put up notices informing visitors that there are no tickets available for booking on site, and the ticketing office was starkly left unattended. So you can save yourself a wasted trip by booking your tickets ahead of time. Each session is limited to 60 persons so, yes, even your children need a ticket.
In case it was not clear before, the tickets are FREE.
2. Be early
The website advises visitors to arrive 15 minutes earlier, and we arrived 15 minutes before that. So the friendly staff allowed us to get bumped up to the earlier session. In fact, the lack of a crowd at the entrance made me think others got bumped up too. So do head over earlier.
3. Prepare the children (if you have them)
The whole show is an hour long and the bathrooms are located outside of the rooms where the shows take place. So get the children ready.
A father and son duo missed out on the entire prelude session for a toilet break, and they may or may not have been part of our family. Don’t be them.
4. Location, location, location
If you want to get the best view during the various acts, read carefully.
Prelude: The side opposite the gathering area has the best view of the map.
Act 1: Sit in the middle section for the best view of the action. Or, if you are tall enough, listen to the announcement and lean against the wall at the back for the best overview.
Act 2 & 3: Don’t be afraid of the first 2 rows. Seriously.
Act 4: The wall is your best friend. Find a crack in the wall to watch the screens in the first part, preferably a low one if you have young/short children. Then again, stay close to the wall in the simulated bomb shelter if your young nervous offspring are afraid of the dark. Also, the room is not completely pitch dark, contrary to the imaginations of said offspring.
Act 5: Dress for wet weather. Yes, they offer pretty transparent umbrellas for the rain simulation, but most of them were already bent and had holes in them. I thought the rain getting in the umbrella made the whole experience more authentic, but I would have been less enthused if I was dressed for dry weather.
5. Buy the books
As a mother of a young restless boy, take my advice annd get the Mr Kiasu comic book on Singapore History. It truly doesn’t get any easier to make them learn about Singapore history on their own.
You know, support #singlit and all that jazz. Plus it was on discount.
6. Visit Pathfinder in the evening
It’s Singapore and Pathfinder is outdoors. Enough said.
If this has piqued your interest at all, From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience runs until September 15.