Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrAn enticing and educative park for the whole family, home to sea and land-faring mammals as well as a myriad of thrilling amusement rides and entertaining shows.
Ocean Park is the least aquarium-like center you may ever visit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Home of the world-famous panda, and offering more thrilling rides, exciting animal exhibits and shows to keep the young and old buzzed for a whole day, Ocean Park is by far one of the most comprehensive attractions in Hong Kong.
History & AttractionsOcean Park was first opened in 1977 and was approximately one-third the size it is today. Extension plans of the 1980s and huge restoration plans of a decade ago have now turned this into one of the world’s most revered theme parks. Awarded the prestigious Applause Award in 2012, its aim is to provide an informative and fun experience for the whole family while injecting plenty of conservation enlightenment along the way. It certainly delivers on all accounts, being the only place on the planet where you can stroll from the South to the North Pole (and almost all that lives in between) in one grueling day of fun and games.
To call this place ‘extensive’ would be a huge understatement. Ocean Park covers an area of 87 hectares and is essentially split in two: there’s the Waterfront and, via cable car or tram access, the Summit. Ocean Park is home to hundreds of endemic Asian sea life (in the world’s largest underwater glass dome), as well as 70 exotic land species, an impressive number of polar creatures and, of course, some of the most endangered animals on Earth, including the Giant Panda, Chinese Salamander, and Asian Otter.
Amazing Asian AnimalsAs the name indicates, this is an area dedicated to all things Asian-made. You’ll find four adorable Giant Pandas, as well as a Giant Salamander, Chinese Alligator, and several land animals as well.
Aqua CityHere is where you’ll find the colossal aquarium for which Ocean Park is so revered. The underwater dome and reef tunnel are world-class and provide, for many, the absolute highlight of a visit here. Literally thousands of exhibits go about their fishy business while you walk through their world as a mere, insignificant spectator. Simply breathtaking.
Whiskers' HarborA section which caters specifically to families with younger tots in tow. Plenty of playgrounds, games, rides, and interactive shows to keep the littlies entertained for many hours.
Adventure LandHome to three rides. A relatively innocuous rollercoaster which actually gifts great sea views, the Raging River water ride and a 20m high Space Wheel.
Marine WorldA mix of sea wildlife attractions and amusement rides, Aqua City is the most all-rounder of all the sections in the park. Here’s where you get to see Californian seals and sea lions surf the artificial waves, over 1,000 jellyfish from all corners of the globe, and a comprehensive collection of endemic and endangered sea life of the famous Yangtze River. Between the animal exhibits and fun rides, you’ll find the tallest viewing tower in Southeast Asia, complete with a revolving, viewing platform granting fantastic views over Hong Kong bay and outlaying islands. There are six rides in this section: the Abyss, the Crazy Galleon, the Dragon, the Eagle, the Ferris Wheel, and the Flying Swing.
Polar AdventureIn this newly opened section you’ll get to see the best of both terrestrial poles in one swift visit. You’ll meet a multitude of penguins (including the King), sea lions, walruses, and arctic foxes. The temperature here is set to keep the animals happy, which means you’ll need a sweater if you plan to spend a considerable amount of time at the sub-zero temps.
The RainforestAn amazing journey through the tropical Amazon will surely be a nice antidote to your Polar Adventure. Learn all about the life and trials of some of the most precarious creatures in South America, including capybaras, anacondas, and kinkajous. If you’ve ever wanted to take a stroll through the Amazon the easy way, then this is your chance.
Thrill MountainThe adrenalin-pumping section of the park, home to its two most hair-raising rides, the aptly named Hair Raiser, and the Flash, which reportedly reaches up to 4 g-force. Here you’ll also find the Whirly Bird, a Bungee trampoline, the centrifugal-force driven Rev Booster, and a bumper car arcade.
- Emperors of the Sky: a fantastic and informative bird show featuring eagles, falcons and vultures. You can catch this show in the Amazing Asian Animals section.
- Ocean Theater: within the grounds of Marine World, this theater holds sea life shows and rotates themes regularly.
- Whiksers’ Theater: loved by all the kids, this Whiskers harbor theater holds two daily shows starring mischievous seals and sea lions.
- Symbio!: considered by many to be the ‘show to end all shows’, Symbio! is held in the evenings just outside the Grand Aquarium. With a gigantic water screen, fireworks, lighting effects and accompanying soundtrack, it’s the show that ought to complete a full day outing to Ocean Park in great style.
Tips on How to Make the Most of your VisitAnnually, Ocean Park attracts almost 8 million visitors. Head here on a Sunday, and you’d be forgiven for thinking we actually meant to write 8 million A DAY. If you thought you needed military precision to visit Victoria Peak then rest assured it is nothing compared to what you’ll have to go through here. Will it be worth it you ask?
Here are some insider’s tips to help you plan your day out...
- Download a map from the park’s website before you even arrive. Familiarizing yourself with the layout, and having your most preferred attractions circled, will make it infinitely easier to organize your day. Don’t do this and you will likely resemble a deer in headlights for at least the first hour of your visit.
- No matter how good your ‘plan of attack’ may be, always keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to visit every exhibit, enjoy every ride and watch every show, in just a single day. If that’s all the time you have then we recommend you organize your day in order of priorities, knowing that it’ll be highly likely the last few items will not be ticket off your list. Luckily, the park’s distinctive sections make it easy to discern, at first glance, what one may or may not be interested in.
- The amusement rides are fun and entertaining yet are not, by far, the wildest on Earth. If you’re contemplating skipping them altogether, in order to concentrate on the animals (the bona fide unique attraction here) then don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out!) stop you. Perhaps visiting the animals first and leaving rides till the end may be a good option for you. Moreover, note that queues for rides are by far the worst time-suckers at Ocean Park, with some demanding more than a 45-minute wait.
- On that note, also know that the second-biggest time-sucker at Ocean Park is the gondola ride between the Waterfront and Summit and, although views are spectacular and the short ride fun, it is by no means a tremendous loss if you choose to take the much faster tram instead.
- The location of the theme park is probably one of its most underrated assets, so remember to take some time to soak up the sterling views throughout the day and you’ll really get the most of your visit.
- Pre-purchase your tickets online to avoid ticket-booth queues and, if you’re traveling without kids, consider heading here in the early afternoon, which is when most families will start making a move towards home. But please do take this as a Catch-22 recommendation: kids may burn out and crash by late afternoon...but so do pandas! You’ll see both at their most active early in the morning.
- The Grand Aquarium is the sealife mecca of Ocean Park and a spot you should see as soon as
you possibly can, as crowds tend to swell to colossal proportions as the day progresses.
Ticket PricesAdults: HK$345 ($45)
Children (b/w 3 & 11yo): HK$173 ($22)
How to Get ThereTake the MTR to Admiralty Station and take the B exit. This will take you to Ocean Park ticket booth, from where you can board the 629 bus to the entrance. If you’re closer to Central you can also catch the 629 as it starts its ride from Pier 7.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Jan 24, 2015