Changi Airport

World’s Best Airport: getting better

 

Proclaimed “World’s Best Airport” for five years in a row, Singapore’s Changi Airport is where you want to be if you’re ever going to be stuck at an airport.

There are shops, restaurants and attractions galore, but once the Jewel mixed-use complex gets built in the center of the airport, Changi will become even more of a destination all its own.

Scheduled to be completed in early 2019, Jewel will boast the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, a five-story garden filled with thousands of trees, plants, ferns and shrubs, a branch of the YOTEL hotel chain, shops, restaurants and a 164-foot-long Canopy Bridge with some glass flooring to offer great views of the waterfall and other attractions.

This week, we’ve learned that the attractions planned for Canopy Park (on level five) will include Sky Nets, Canopy Mazes, and Discovery Slides as well as well as an open play area called Foggy Bowls, where kids will get to wander through mists “as though walking among clouds.”

 

 

 

Photo Credits: Jewel Changi Airport Devt.

Let’s all go to the movies – at the airport

 

My ‘At the Airport’ column for USA TODAY this month is all about airports where travelers can watch movies.  All the time and on special occasions.

Here’s a slightly abbreviated version of that column:

In February, Oregon’s Portland International Airport hosted the official opening of a free microcinema on Concourse C.

A branch of the city’s historic Hollywood Theatre movie palace, the new Hollywood Theatre at PDX has a bright, 1920s-inspired neon marquee, seating for 17 (but capacity for 49) and a $200,000 state-of-the-art projection and sound system isolated from the roar of the planes and the shaking of the airport building.

The cinema replaces a rarely used post-security service center. Now, instead of sitting at work tables with power outlets, passengers can use this space to watch an hour-long reel of G-rated short films by Oregon filmmakers that will run around the clock and be refreshed quarterly.

The opening program reel includes the premier of an animated film, a music video, a documentary, mini-shorts about Portland by local film students and more than a half-dozen other features.

More airport cinemas

Portland International isn’t the only airport to offer movies to passengers who have a bit of extra time to spend at the airport.

At the end of 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport opened its “See 18” Screening Room near gate C18 to show short films, documentaries, music videos and art programming by Minnesota filmmakers and shot predominantly in Minnesota.

All films are under 10 minutes, run 24/7, are curated by The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul and are refreshed three time a year.

Elsewhere, Lithuania’s Vilnius Airport promotes its free ‘cinema hall’ showing work by Lithuanian filmmakers and there’s a Cinema Time screening room showing a wide variety of free films at the Vaclav Havel Prague Airport.

Terminal 3 – Transit – Movie Theatre – Interior

Singapore’s Changi Airport has two 24-hour movies theatres (in Terminals 2 and 3) offering free screenings of full-length movies for passengers, with a line-up that currently includes ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses,’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings.’ And there are movie theaters selling tickets to recent films in the public areas of Hong Kong International Airport, South Korea’s Incheon Airport and a few others.

Special screenings  

Airports without dedicated film-screening spaces have dabbled with movies events as well.

While the Toronto International Film Festival was underway in 2010, passengers at Toronto Pearson International Airport could watch movie trailers from the festival in a pair of 10×10-foot pop-up screening rooms. Free popcorn was provided each night.

https://vimeo.com/14827161

For the past three summers, Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has hosted an outdoor cinema to show blockbusters on a giant screen set up on a concourse rooftop, with wireless headphones for each moviegoer. The series returns in July with ten screenings.

During 2016, Denver International Airport showed free outdoor movies on the outdoor plaza between the main terminal and the Westin Denver International Airport as part of a “Film on the Fly” series.

No program is set yet for 2017, but the 2016 line-up included “Top Gun”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

And, at San Francisco International Airport, in Interim Boarding Area B, a selection from Laurie O’Brien’s Peephole Cinema features silent film shorts inspired by travel and the writings of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Back to the Future

While an airport movie theater may seem like a fresh new amenity, the idea is far from brand new.

From the early 1950s into the mid-1970s, there was a ‘regular’ movie theater – the Skyport Cinema – showing first-run films at Pittsburgh International Airport.

And when the new Dallas/Fort Worth International airport opened in January 1974, “all the major airlines moved their operations there from Love,” said Bruce Bleakley, director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, “That left a big empty terminal with only Southwest flying its 8-10 flights a day.”

In November 1975, a developer turned the terminal lobby into an entertainment center with three movie theaters, skating rinks, and other activities and called it the Llove Entertainment Center, said Bleakley, but the complex was closed by May 1978.

 

 

Hello Kitty cafe opens at Singapore’s Changi Airport

Hello Kitty Changi Airport

Fans of Hello Kitty now have a great reason to hang out at Singapore’s Changi Airport: the 24-hour Hello Kitty Orchid Garden restaurant, in Terminal 3, Arrival Meeting Hall.

Hello Kitty Changi waffle

In addition to the Hello Kitty retail section and the all the Hello Kitty-themed food, the restaurant (part of a chain that has outlets in Seoul and Bangkok) has a garden decor built around the orchid – Singapore’s official flower.

The menu lists everything from Hello Kitty-themed quesadillas and a “Cowabunga Wagyu” dish with a side-order of Hello Kitty-shaped rice to a Hello Kitty banana split made with brûléed bananas, macarons and berries

Hello kitty changi quesadilla

hello kitty changi banana split

Photos courtesy Hello Kitty Orchid Garden

Outdoor movies – at the airport.

The amenities at Singapore’s Changi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and the Incheon International Airport in Seoul include movie theaters.

IMAX at Hong Kong Airport - mock up

Hong Kong Int’l Airport has an IMAX theater

But those are indoor movie theaters.

In what we hope will be a regular feature, last weekend Germany’s Düsseldorf International (which recently adopted a parking robot) offered visitors a chance to see an outdoor movie at the airport.

DUS MOVIE

The one-night cinema had seats for over 700 people and was set up on the airport’s outdoor observation deck.

On Saturday night the German comedy “Nicht mein Tag” was shown. On Sunday, it was James Bond in “Skyfall”.

Moviegoers had perfect outdoor moving-watching weather and, as a bonus, could see airplanes landing and taking off just behind the screen.

And, to make sure everyone could hear the soundtrack, wireless headphones were passed out.

DUS MOVIE 3

DUS MOVIE 2

(Movie photos courtesy of Dusseldorf Airport)

Spongebob Squarepants at Singapore’s Changi Airport

Leave it to Singapore’s Changi Airport to offer travelers and over-the-top holiday extravaganza.

sponge bob

Decorations and activities this year include a Christmas Village with SpongeBob SquarePants and his giant, walk-through Pineapple House.

pineapple

Elsewhere in the airport, the gardening crew has created huge topiaries of famous landmarks from around the world, including The Leaning Tower of Pisa, St Basil’s Cathedral, the Colosseum and a Trojan Horse.

 

Topiary