SINGAPORE - American fast-food chain A&W at Jewel Changi Airport attracted long queues on its return to Singapore, as the 10-storey complex welcomed the public for the first time on Thursday (April 11).
At 6pm, there were more than 50 people in the queue at the 24-hour, 80-seat outlet in Basement 2. A staff member informed customers that the queueing time was about an hour, with about another hour's wait for food to be served.
The first fast-food outlet to open in Singapore in 1966, A&W stopped operating here in 2003.
Restaurant manager Melanie Aquino, 32, had to give up eating at A&W as she felt the queue was too long.
"It's a pity as the last time I ate at an A&W in Singapore was more than 10 years ago," said Ms Aquino, who had taken half a day's leave to be there with five relatives, including her two-year-old daughter and four-year-old niece.
About 60,000 people were expected to visit Jewel Changi Airport on the first day of its public preview on Thursday.
About half a million people have signed up for free preview tickets to visit the complex up to 10pm next Tuesday.
Jewel will open its doors to all from next Wednesday, its official opening day.
Located next to Terminal 1, it is connected to T2 and T3 via air-conditioned travelators.
Actor J. Jaikishan, 26, was among those who visited the $1.7 billion, 135,700 sq m complex, which features more than 280 shops and food and beverage outlets from Basement 2 to Level 5.
"Jewel is a giant tease of what Singapore has to offer to the world," he said.
"An indoor garden, nightlife, food, and water features can all be found here, right where many visitors to Singapore will be," he added.
For many, the main draw was the 40m-tall indoor waterfall that occasionally emitted mist, and which formed the backdrop for many photos.
"Even looking at the waterfall can be soothing for our mood," said Mr S. P. Yong, 72, a retired Chinese tutor who was at the fifth-storey garden with his wife.
Ms Doreen Yong, 56, who works at McDonalds, and her daughter Vivien Neui, 22, were among the first group of visitors to the Pokemon Centre - the first one outside Japan.
"We were excited to visit it as both of us are Pokemon fans who play Pokemon Go," said Ms Neui, a student at Republic Polytechnic, who walked away with a Singapore-exclusive Pikachu plushie.
Fans of Shake Shack have to wait longer, however, as it will open to the public only next Wednesday.
The New York burger chain, which will offer exclusive local items such as vanilla frozen custard ice cream blended with pandan, coconut, and topped with gula melaka crumble, was open only to the media on Thursday.
Three teams from a lion dance troupe were seen performing outside different shops, meant to welcome good luck and prosperity.
Play attractions on the fifth storey were not open, although visitors could stroll through the garden with 2,500 trees and 100,000 shrubs.
Civil servant Jamal Ismail, 50, said he had to wait 30 minutes for the lift as he had a stroller with his two-year-old daughter, although he acknowledged that this issue was not unique to Jewel.
Describing the complex as "money well-spent" and good for a family walk, he said he would go back again when the crowd is smaller.
Hobbyist photographer Goe Meng Hui, 25, was there to capture a good shot of the indoor waterfall with his tripod and camera to put on his Instagram account.
"This reminds me of the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay but is yet unique in its own way," said the undergraduate.