Meeting and eating cow and chicken at the Cartoon Network Theme Park

- Paula C. Nocon () - January 8, 2003 - 12:00am
Singaporean children do not scream. That is what I discovered as one of only about five outstanding grown-ups roaming around the Tinseltoon Christmas experience at the Escape Theme Park in Singapore.

That, and it’s not actually illegal to chew gum in the Lion City, it’s selling gum that is.

Anyway, Singaporeans, from what I’ve seen, are the best-behaved children anywhere in the world. They don’t yell, they don’t throw tantrums in public, they don’t run around like wild animals.

Maybe it’s fear of caning, but these young ’uns are just so mature they made me feel like a child again.

The thing is, I have loved Cartoon Network since I first got it on cable in my late teens. My favorite has always been Cow and Chicken — there was one time I was in a deep funk in college and my classmate talked like Cow the whole day just to entertain me. Luckily, he had no udders, and he later became my good friend. It’s one of our fondest memories.

So there I was, at the Escape Theme Park in Singapore’s Downtown East, seeing Cow and Chicken in the flesh, grinning from ear to ear, holding myself back from making cartwheels and laughing out loud in fear of being berated by well-behaved eight year olds.

For example, I went on this ride called the Cadbury Inverter, which sends you up about five stories in the sky and then flips you around 360-degree loops repeatedly. My reaction: I laughed like a hyena. Then, I did the Wet ’n Wild log ride that had the steepest plunges I had ever been on, dousing me with so much water that I ended up looking like a reject from a wet T-shirt contest, and I shrieked like a banshee.

Compare and contrast this behavior to that of the Singaporean children. At both rides, they simply smiled. And smiled. And raised their eyebrows. You can just imagine how my grotesque noises just rose above the deafening silence.

Afterwards, there was the unforgettable Jungle Bell rock live musical, featuring the major Cartoon Network Characters. It was hilarious: mascots of Cow, Chicken, the Powerpuff girls, Professor Utonium, Dexter, Dee Dee, and Johnny Bravo put out this skit about fighting Mojo Jojo and the bad guys in an African jungle. The music was great, the choreography was excellent, and the plot was quite gripping. And yet. There were hundreds of children in the audience, and they all sat in their places, nodding their heads as if they were at an opera.

Compare and contrast this to any children’s party experience at Jollibee or McDonald’s. The children scream when Ronald McDonald or Jollibee comes in. The children scream when they bring in the cake. The children scream when they open the gifts. The children scream when they need to go to the bathroom. The children scream when the spaghetti is cold. You cannot leave one of these parties without a throbbing migraine of Ajinomoto proportions.

Back to Singapore. The theme park also had this special area called Tinseltoon where there were over 20 games, activities and the like. There’s a hall of mirrors called Dexter’s Mirror Madness, a Supersize cinema with bouncing inflatable seats, and wholesome game centers like the Cow and Chicken Corner farmhouse and Johnny Bravo’s Pop’s moon palace where you try to shoot plastic hamburgers into Pop’s trays. But the best one was the Sixties-inspired house of the Powerpuff girls, where I found gigantic Powerpuff girl stuff toys bundled up in bed, supposedly sleeping. I asked whether I could go down the fantastic chute so I could land in the playground, but the girl-in-charge just shook her head and pointed at the sign that said something like: OVERGROWN ADULTS GOING INTO THEIR SECOND CHILDHOOD CANNOT GO DOWN THE CHUTE. I felt like a criminal. I asked whether I could lie in bed with Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles, and they surprisingly let me. Meanwhile, the rest of the Singaporean kids around were quietly drawing, doodling and surfing the Internet while I made a complete fool of myself.

I shaped up and did the most adult thing I could in the theme park and went to the souvenir shop. I purchased a Dexter thingamajig for my best friend, a computer guy. He calls me his Dee Dee because I bug him all the time when he’s at work, thereby wreaking havoc in his laboratory and his career.

Finally, after a meal of cow (read: beef) and chicken at the Japanese restaurant, it was time to go home. I held back tears: Singaporean children probably don’t cry either.

As we left the place to head back to Orchard Road, I was asked by our host what I thought of the theme park.

I answered with a smirk: Oh, it was a scream.
* * *
Watch for the Asian tour of the Cartoon Network Jungle Bell rock concert and Tinseltoon Xmas coming at you in 2003!
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