If you read about our night trip to the Goldfish Market, then you probably already know that my fiance Mike and our friend Eric are fish fanatics. Therefore, a visit to Ocean Park — a marine mammal park, oceanarium, and amusement park in Hong Kong — was a must in our itinerary.
Ocean Park is one of the two largest theme parks in Hong Kong (the other one being Hong Kong Disneyland), and the largest theme park in Asia. The park, which is made up of two areas — The Summit and The Waterfront — is, in fact, so huge that you need to ride a 1.5 kilometer cable car to cross from one area to another!
In 2012, Ocean Park was named as “World’s Best Theme Park” by The Applause Award, a prestigious award-giving body within the global attraction industry. Ocean Park was the very first recipient of this award in Asia!
Whatever age group you belong to, if you’re an animal lover, you will be floored by the vast collection of animals in Ocean Park, which include thousands of species of fish, birds, penguins, dolphins, giant pandas, and more. They are all quite fascinating!
See? Aren’t the animals in Ocean Park cute? Haha! That’s just me, Mike, Paula, and Eric trying on some animal beanies at the entrance of Ocean Park. The lady selling them wasn’t too happy about this.
If you are planning on going to Ocean Park, I suggest that you go at the earliest time possible, which is at 10:30 AM from Mondays to Fridays, and 10:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays. Remember, it’s the largest theme park in Asia! That means that a whole day is not even enough to explore all the attractions. Some of us (ahem!) woke up a little late so we arrived at the park just 15 minutes before 1:00 PM. Not advisable! It’s a good thing that I’ve been here before so at least I’ve experienced getting on a lot of the rides that we didn’t get to try for this particular trip, but if you’re an Ocean Park virgin (I’m allowed to say “virgin” in a supposedly child-friendly blog post, right?), be an early bird and go to the park as soon as it opens.
Even though we arrived late, we still got to take a wealth of photos around the park. Thus, just like my posts on Hong Kong Disneyland (here and here), this will be a 2-part blog entry on Ocean Park. We’ve got a huuuuge park to cover, so come on and start the tour with me!
Shopping for souvenirs might not be the first thing you’d like to do as soon as you enter Ocean Park, but how can you not want to go inside cute shops like these?
Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, these colorful sea-themed shops are so charming that they will pull you in like a water current! Here, you can find lots — and I do mean lots — of bric-a-bracs like apparel,toys, jewelry, and more.
Ocean Park is made up of 12 attraction zones:
The Waterfront has the following attractions: (1) Amazing Asian Animals, (2) Aqua City, (3) Ocean Express Waterfront Station, (4) Whiskers Harbor, and (5) Waterfront Cable Car Station.
The Summit consists of these attractions: (1) Adventure Land, (2) Ocean Express Summit Station, (3) Thrill Mountain, (4) Marine World, (5) Polar Adventure, (6) Rainforest, and (7) Summit Cable Car Station.
All in all, if you include all the rides, game zones, and theaters, Ocean Park has 56 attractions all in all! I’ll share with you the attractions that we got to see and try.
The Grand Aquarium
I’d save the best for last, but why don’t we just start with something tremendous? The Grand Aquarium is the granddaddy of attractions in Ocean Park. If you could skip everything else and choose just one attraction, this would be it (but don’t skip everything else, of course!). Inside this titanic tank, visitors will be awestruck by over 5,000 fish in over 400 species, including stingrays, manta rays, and hammerhead sharks.
Guests enter the Grand Aquarium via a long escalator with a blue dome-shaped roof. Even without water, those who go up this escalator will already feel like they are underwater!
The journey begins with a peek into the gleaming coral tank, where guests can get a load of a plethora of tropical fish, colorful corals,and fascinating porifera.
As we went on our exploration, we arrived at this resplendent body of water. It was only after we continued walking that we realized that this sparkly lagoon is actually one whale of an aquarium! It is the home — a beautiful and well-maintained home — of thousands and thousands of sea creatures. Ever heard of that saying that goes “I felt like a small fish in a big pond”? That is exactly how I felt when I was inside The Grand Aquarium!
As we walked further down, we were led to an astronomic tank filled with scores of milkfish, their silver scales twinkling brightly against the light. We were floored! It looked like we were watching an episode of National Geographic, only way better, because it was live. I never really thought much of milkfish before, because this is a common viand from where I live (best with rice!). But here at Ocean Park, mikfish are more pedigreed, so much so that they have their own excluive and massive tank!
It seems that with every step that we take in The Grand Aquarium, we get more and more amazed. As we walked through the Bubble Tannel, the world’s largest aquarium done at 5.5 meters in diameter, all we could utter was “wow!”
We passed by an area full of tanks of jellyfish. When the colors of the light change, the jellyfish’s color changes as well, and the tanks look like a sky of lanterns!
Watch the video below to see the jellies change color. If you can’t view the video, you may click go to this link.
And for the grand finale of the Grand Aquarium: a magnificent 13-meter wide acrylic viewing panel displaying a multitude of fish which you can see up close. It’s like being in the depths of the ocean floor yourself!
Ocean Express Waterfront Station
The Ocean Express is the smoothest and most fuss-free way to travel from the Waterfront to the Summit. The train can transport guests between the park’s two areas in just 4 minutes! According to Ocean Park’s official website: “The train travels through a tunnel that was created by excavating 71,300 square meters of earth and is 1.3 kilometers in length, equivalent to 532 automobiles lined up bumper to bumper! The rail track alone which guides the train is the length of 29 football pitches placed from end to end.” Awesome!
We were a little disappointed because we thought that we would actually be underwater (or at least feel like we were underwater), but they only showed a video of the ocean and its inhabitants on the ceiling of the train, and that was it. I guess we expected too much! Here’s a video to give you an idea of what you can expect from the Ocean Express. (P.S. This is not my video!)
We alighted the Ocean Express and arrived at the Summit, and set foot on the Thrill Mountain, which, from the name suggests, is one of the most thrilling areas in the whole of Ocean Park. Some people say that Hong Kong Disneyland is better suited for young children, while Ocean Park is more for adults. If only for the cliff-hanging rides in the Thrill Mountain, then I would have to agree!
Though we were ready and willing to go on some adrenaline-pumping rides right away, we thought we would “acclimate” first and start with the less exhilarating rides. We lined up first for Whirly Bird, because, really, there’s nothing frightening about a ride named “Whirly Bird.” This ride lets guests pretend that they’re pilots as they steer a joystick and go up in the seats that resemble vintage airplanes. It was actually more relaxing than exciting. It was just nice to go around, up in the air, and feel the wind on your face.
Just looking at this ride made me dizzy! This 22-meter high vertigo vehicle turns daredevils around 360 degrees at an insane speed of 60 km/h! Anyone who has said that Ocean Park is for kids obviously has not seen or gone on The Flash yet. It’s probably named “The Flash” for a reason — because as you whirl around ferociously, with your blood rushing down your head as you are flung upside down, your whole life will literally FLASH right before your eyes as you pray, “Please, I don’t want to die!” If you want to play “Truth and Dare” with your friends, point at The Flash, and say “I dare you to go on that!” *evil laugh*
Another ride that doesn’t sugarcoat, the Hair Raiser is, in fact a hair-raising ride in Ocean Park! The sinister-looking clown at the entrance of the ride pretty much makes that obvious. The Hair Raiser is a demon of a rollercoaster which takes thrillseekers on a wild high as they shoot up the air, spiral around, and go into a rapid-fire nose-dive. This ride is short, but pretty scary! (And not just because of the mad clown). Do not miss this when you go to Ocean Park!
Our Ocean Park adventures are far from over! Part 2 of our Ocean Park escapades to be continued!
Photos by Mike Smith / Miguel Lazatin and me.