There hasn’t been many nice things said about Hong Kong as of late, which is rather unfortunate as the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China still has plenty to offer. From the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred eatery, to the iconic view from Victoria Peak and the nightly Symphony of Lights illuminating the Harbour – a magical experience awaits in Hong Kong. In this edition, Anith Adilah Othman brings you to Ocean Park, a homegrown destination that once stood among Forbes’ 10 Most Popular Amusement Parks in the World.
Opened in 1977, Ocean Park has been a stalwart of amusement centres, however, the second oldest theme park in Hong Kong has seen better days. With its popularity continuing to decrease, especially among tourists who would prefer newer attractions such as Disneyland.
Regardless, it remains a local favourite, as evident in the number of visitors during Good Times2’s recent trip. Located in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island, the place is massive – spanning over 915,000 square metres.
The size of the park might sound intimidating and it could be, for those with poor health conditions, but how else do you expect to fit in a marine mammal park, an oceanarium, an animal theme park and an amusement park in one place?
Ocean Park features two major attraction areas dubbed the Waterfront and the Summit. Separated by large mountains, visitors have the option of taking a cable car to the Summit which promises incredible views of the South China Sea below, or the funicular train dubbed Ocean Express.
The Waterfront is the first area that you see upon stepping into this wonderland, which hosts Sea Life Carousel, Waterfront Plaza and the Grand Aquarium among others. The most interesting part about Ocean Park is that it promotes education whilst providing immeasurable fun for the whole family.
The Summit is also where you will be able to take a trip down memory lane. In one corner sits Old Hong Kong, which as the name suggests features a glimpse of the city between the 1950s and 1970s.
Some of the noteworthy sights here include a replica of Edinburgh Place Ferry Pier’s clock tower and its signature toll, a manually retrofitted heritage tramcar and rows of tong lau-style apartment buildings. Visitors can also sample local delicacies at any of the food and beverages stalls here.
Meanwhile, the Summit is considered the heart of the park where thrill and excitement awaits. The whole area sits atop the mountains, which makes roller coaster rides here 10 times more exhilarating than others. Check out the videos online, if you don’t believe us.
As soon as you reach the Summit, you will be greeted by Thrill Mountain, a carnival-themed area, offering five rides and eight booth games. We suggest you try them all: one is a Whirly Bird, a chair swing ride that soars up to 30 metres tall, another the Flash, a swing ride that goes upside down at the height of 20 metres and even a Rev Booster, a spinner ride that will make you scream your lungs out.
However, the ride that takes the cake has got to be Hair Raiser, a floorless roller coaster that brings riders up the hill before making multiple gut-churning drops alongside legendary loops and a zero-gravity roll. Not for the faint-hearted.
Just a couple of metres away from Hair Raiser is a whole different section called Marine World where you can find rides such as The Dragon, The Abyss and the Ferris Wheel. This section is especially dedicated to animal lovers who would love to learn more about sea creatures.
Take a peek inside Sea Jelly Spectacular and Pacific Pier for an immersive learning experience where you will be able to acquire more fun facts about jellyfish, seal and sea lions. Similarly, you can get up-close with animals from the colder parts of the world at Polar Adventure.
The South Pole Spectacular is home to three penguin species: king penguins, southern rockhopper penguins and Gentoo penguins, while the Arctic Fox Den houses the cutest furries we rarely get to see.
At the North Pole Encounter, on the other hand, visitors get to meet Pacific walruses and spotted seals through an underwater tunnel. There are also other animals from the North Pole including northern sea lions and snowy owls.
If you walk further towards the back of the mountains, you will come across Adventure Land, a special area that offers unique attractions. First off, there is the Mine Train – a rollercoaster which incorporates virtual reality (VR) features for those who wish to experience the future of entertainment. You can also opt not to use the VR headset for a more traditional ride.
Then, there is the Raging River, a log flume-type water ride that takes passengers through “tropical-like waterfalls”. We recommend wearing a raincoat if you hate getting wet, as this ride is sure to get you all drenched.
It is relatively easy and cheap to get there by public transportation. If you are taking the MTR, hop on the South Island Line and you will reach Ocean Park Station in less than 10 minutes from Admiralty Station. You can also go by public bus or taxi.
If you want to make the most out of your Ocean Park experience, we suggest that you plan your day, start early, wear the most comfortable shoes you own, stay hydrated and don’t hesitate to unleash your inner child.