Ocean Park Hong Kong
Main entrance of Ocean Park in 2013
|Slogan||Connect people with nature|
|Location||Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong|
|Coordinates||22°14′45.1″N 114°10′33.3″E / 22.245861°N 114.175917°ECoordinates: 22°14′45.1″N 114°10′33.3″E / 22.245861°N 114.175917°E|
|Theme||education, conservation, entertainment|
|Owner||Ocean Park Corporation|
|Opened||10 January 1977|
|Visitors per annum||7.7 million|
|Area||91.5 hectares (226 acres)|
|Ocean Park Hong Kong|
|Cantonese Yale||Hēunggóng Hóiyèung Gūngyún|
|Literal meaning||Hong Kong Ocean Park|
Ocean Park Hong Kong, commonly known as Ocean Park, is a marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park and amusement park situated in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan in the Southern District of Hong Kong. It is the second largest theme park in Hong Kong, following Hong Kong Disneyland.
Opened in 1977 by the then Governor of Hong Kong Sir Murray MacLehose, Ocean Park became popular but by 2005 was unprofitable and widely expected to lose out to the new Hong Kong Disneyland. However, the Park responded with a HK$5.5 billion development plan that saw it expand to over 80 attractions and rides, and steadily grow visitor numbers to 7.6 million in 2014, making it the world's 13th most visited theme park, and the largest theme park in Asia. Half of all visitors now come from mainland China, in growth that parallels rising mainland tourist visitor levels to Hong Kong over the same period. Since this high, visitor numbers have declined to around 6 million in 2016 under the background of declining tourist arrivals in Hong Kong.
Covering an area of 91.5 hectares (226 acres), the park is separated by a large mountain into two areas, The Summit (Headland) and The Waterfront (Lowland). These areas can be reached by a 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) cable car system, or the Ocean Express funicular railway. To ascend the Headland comprises several hills, visitors can use Hong Kong's second longest outdoor escalator.
The theme park has various attractions and rides, including four roller coasters, and also animal exhibits with different themes, such as a giant panda habitat, rainforest and polar displays, as well as an aquarium featuring the world's largest aquarium dome. Between 1979 and 1997, Ocean Park was most famous for its signature killer whale, Miss Hoi Wai.
As well as being an amusement park, Ocean Park Hong Kong aims to merge entertainment and education, including conservation advocacy. However it has been criticised by wildlife advocates for practices including the wild capture of large sea animals, such as dolphins and orca, and the presentation of shows featuring such animals performing.
In January 2017, the Ocean Park saw a 30% surge in visitors, credited to a new MTR line, big discounts and an early Lunar New Year holiday.
Opened in January 1977 by the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Murray MacLehose, Ocean Park was constructed as a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, with HK$150 million of funding. The land was provided free by the Hong Kong Government. Between 1982 and 1984, the Jockey Club put a further HK$240 million into developing facilities at Tai Shue Wan and thrill rides at the Summit.
Ocean Park ceased to be a Jockey Club subsidiary on 1 July 1987, becoming its own statutory body, with a Government-appointed Board. The Jockey Club established a HK$200 million trust to ensure the Park's continued development. At present, Ocean Park is managed by the Ocean Park Corporation, a financially independent, non-profit organisation.
In 2003, Allan Zeman, known for leading the creation of the popular Lan Kwai Fong entertainment district of Hong Kong, was appointed Chairman of Ocean Park Corporation, a position he held for 11 years.
In 2005, the year that rival Hong Kong Disneyland opened, Ocean Park unveiled a Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP), under which older features at the park were rejuvenated and new areas developed. The number of attractions more than doubled, from 35 to over 80. The Lowland was redeveloped as a new area called the Waterfront, while the old 'Headland' became 'The Summit', with polar and rainforest exhibits. A dedicated thrill ride area, Thrill Mountain, opened, and the children's area was refurbished as Whisker's Harbour.
The first of the new developments, the Amazing Asian Animals, showcasing some of the Asia's endangered creatures, including giant pandas, red pandas, Chinese giant salamanders, Asian small-clawed otters and the Chinese alligators, and Ocean Express, a funicular train system capable of transporting 5,000 visitors per hour between the Summit and the Waterfront, were launched in 2009.
In January 2011, the new flagship attraction area Aqua City was opened. The zone features the Grand Aquarium, designed by St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations, displaying some 5,000 fish from over 400 species, and the world's first and only 360° water screen show Symbio.
In June, the Rainforest, an integrated theme zone featuring over 70 exotic animal species, was opened.
In March 2012, new attraction zone Old Hong Kong opened, evoking the streetscapes and spirit of Hong Kong between the 1950s and the 1970s from various perspectives. In April, the newly refurbished Hong Kong Jockey Club Sichuan Treasures opened. In July, the final element of the redevelopment, Polar Adventure, opened, featuring animals such as penguins, Pacific walruses, spotted seals, northern sea lions, snowy owls and Arctic foxes, aiming to highlight some of the conservation issues they face.
A 20,000 sq ft shark aquarium opened in July 2014 at the former Atoll Reef site.
Ocean Park now comprises two main attraction areas: the Waterfront and the Summit, subdivided into eight attraction zones: Amazing Asian Animals, Aqua City, Whiskers Harbour, Marine World, Polar Adventure, Adventure Land, Thrill Mountain and the Rainforest.
This area was formerly known as two distinct areas: Marine Land and Headlands Rides.
- Pacific Pier – Mimics the rocky habitat of seals and sea lions on the Northern Californian coast.
- Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze River Exploration – The 3,500 square-metre freshwater aquarium houses Chinese sturgeon along with other native species of the Yangtze River
- Ocean Park Tower
- Sea Jelly Spectacular – Opened in 2006. Southeast Asia's first standalone sea jelly exhibit.
- The Dragon – A rollercoaster
- The Abyss – A turbo drop ride
- Flying Swing
- Crazy Galleon
- Ferris wheel
- Marine World Games Zone
- Garden of Joy
Thrill Mountain was opened in December 2011. It is a carnival-themed area of 222,800 square feet. It offers five rides, eight booth games, as well as food, beverages and merchandise.
- Hair Raiser – A rollercoaster
- Whirly Bird – A chair swing ride.
- Bumper Blaster – Bumper cars that can carry two in each car.
- Rev Booster
- The Flash
- Bungee Trampoline – A trampoline that allows visitors to jump really high while strapped in bungee harnesses
- Mine Train – A steel "mine train" roller coaster
- Raging River – A log flume-type water ride that takes passengers through "tropical waterfalls",
Polar Adventure was opened on 13 July 2012, featuring the North Pole Encounter, South Pole Spectacular and Arctic Fox Den, as well as the Arctic Blast roller coaster. Animals include king penguins, southern rockhopper penguins, gentoo penguins, pacific walruses, spotted seals, Steller sea lions, snowy owls and Arctic foxes.
The attraction's carbon footprint is reduced through environmental technology including a ventilation system that recycles residual cool air to cool down the Life Support System (LSS) and plant room area before being discharged, which it is claimed cut electricity consumption by a third.
- Arctic Blast – A steel "roller coaster" located in the Polar Adventure with various dips and side turns. It is suitable for the whole family.
- North Pole Encounter – visitors can meet Pacific walruses and spotted seals, and other animals from the North Pole including northern sea lions and snowy owls. The animals can also be viewed via an underwater tunnel.
- South Pole Spectacular – houses three penguin species: king penguins, southern rockhopper penguins and gentoo penguins. The viewing chamber, glass-panelled floors, walkways and balconies overlooking the water allow visitors to see the penguins from different angles.
- Arctic Fox Den – visitors can see Arctic foxes here to learn about their behaviour and the impact of humans on their habitat.
The Rainforest was opened on 14 June 2011. Dozens of avian, terrestrial and aquatic animals living inside buttress roots accompany visitors on their immersive exploration of biodiversity.
- The Rapids – A family river rapids ride along a rushing river that surrounds the themed zone.
- Expedition Trail – A walk-through rainforest exhibits where, visitors can meet some of the world's most striking tropical species, including the kinkajou, capybara, green anaconda and green aracari.
- Rainforest Why Zone – Trainers explain about rainforest animals in the wild and in captivity.
Aqua City was opened in January 2011 and occupies around 200.000 square feet. It features:
- Grand Aquarium – Inside the Grand Aquarium, visitors can get up close to some 5,000 fish from over 400 species, such as the scalloped hammerhead and manta ray. Strolling through the Reef Tunnel and Panoramic Ocean Gallery, visitors can see the world's largest viewing dome in an aquarium, at 5.5 metres in diameter, and a 13-metre acrylic viewing panel, one of the largest in the world. It also features the world's first and only 360° water screen show Symbio! and Hong Kong's only restaurant inside an aquarium.
- Sea Life Carousel – Hong Kong's largest carousel, 15.1 metres across, with 61 carriers in 13 different designs inspired by endangered sea animals, holding up to 81 passengers.
- Old Hong Kong – Offers an immersive experience of culture, history, and delicacies of Hong Kong between the 1950s and the 1970s. It features 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 try more than 70 types of local street food and beverage that evoke the flavour of old Hong Kong. The area also provides a wide array of classic booth games.
- Waterfront Plaza – Features a lively carnival setting with a rotating mix of shows, magic and other acts performed by clowns, acrobats and jugglers. This area sets the backdrop for many of Ocean Park's festive events.
Amazing Asian Animals
- Giant Panda Adventure – A purpose-built habitat that houses two rare giant pandas - Ying Ying and Le Le, as well as red pandas. It also houses the critically endangered Chinese giant salamander.
- Panda Village – displays Asian small-clawed otters and a variety of Asian bird life in a woodland setting.
- Gator Marsh – A wetland setting, featuring endangered Chinese alligators from Yangtze River, grass carps and other Asian fish.
- Goldfish Treasures – A goldfish pavilion featuring the latest and rarest varieties such as the Black Oranda and Blue Phoenix Eggfish. Explains the history and importance of the goldfish in Chinese culture.
- Hong Kong Jockey Club Sichuan Treasures – Home to one of Ocean Park's giant pandas, An An, and two golden snub-nosed monkeys, Le Le and Qi Qi, from Sichuan. Le Le and Qi Qi's offspring, Lokie (born 2017), is the first golden monkey born in Hong Kong and also resides there. The exhibit also acts as a resource centre on the care and conservation of this species. Jia Jia also once lived there until its death.
- Emerald Trail – A verdant garden featuring natural settings with flowers, tall trees, stone bridges and gentle pools.
Whiskers Harbour, previously called Kid's World, features attractions for younger children, over an area 14,200 square metres.
- Balloon Up-up-and-away – A hot air balloon-themed Ferris wheel for very young visitors.
- Clown a Round – This merry-go-round has clown cars for younger kids to whirl around in.
- Frog Hopper – A kid's version of a thrill ride. Young visitors strap into the mechanised 'frog', hop high into the air and land back on their feet.
- Merry-go-round – A classic children's merry-go-round with gilded fairytale horses.
- Bouncer House – An inflatable, fully padded, covered house for children to bounce around in.
- Whiskers Harbour Playground – A safe, child- (and parent)-friendly haven for kids to run around and explore slides, see-saws, tunnels and jungle gyms.
- Interactive Shadow Play – Kids get to play simple spelling and skill games on interactive multimedia screens. Correct answers are rewarded with audiovisual presentations.
- Animal Story Corner – Children can explore interactive educational displays about different land, air and sea animals, and what makes each of them distinct.
- Whiskers Harbour Games Zone – The area offers over twenty classic arcade games.
- Toto the Loco – A small train that takes young visitors through a mini forest to meet clowns playing accordions, cellos and violins.
Former attractions of Ocean Park include:
- Atoll Reef. It was located in Marine Land, the former name of an area now part of Marine World. Closed in early 2011 after 34 years of operation, many of the animals were transferred to the new Grand Aquarium.
- Middle Kingdom. Opened in 1990, this area featured traditional Chinese culture and heritage. It closed in 2001, however, the Middle Kingdom Restaurant is still in operation until 2007.
- The Bird Paradise area, located in Tai Sue Wan near Adventure Land, closed down in 2013. It contained The Aviaries and Flamingo Pond. Plans are underway to redevelop this area.
In front of the Grand Aquarium in Aqua City, the Lagoon hosts Symbio!, a night time show featuring fireworks and a 360° water screen
Emperors of the Sky
Production theatre located in Marine World.
Located in Whiskers Harbour, Whiskers Theatre features two shows, "Sea Lion Fun Time" and "Whiskers and Friends".
The Park has had success breeding rare shark species, bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, sea horses, penguins, anacondas, red-handed tamarins, Pygmy marmosets and several species of sea jellies. Endangered birds and butterflies are also hatched and reared at Ocean Park.
A pair of giant pandas, a male named An An (安安) and a female called Jia Jia (佳佳), were given to Ocean Park by China in 1999. The pair were given permanent homes in the 'Hong Kong Jockey Club Sichuan Treasures' area. In 2007, two more pandas were given to Hong Kong to mark the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty. The pair of two-year-old pandas, a male called Le Le (樂樂) and a female named Ying Ying (盈盈), arrived at Ocean Park from the China Conservation and Research Centre in Wolong in Sichuan province. After quarantine, they made their first public appearance in Giant Panda Adventure on 1 July 2007. A new compound was prepared at the park to house them on their arrival. In August 2015, Jia Jia became the oldest breeding panda in the world at the age of 37. Sadly, Jia Jia began to suffer the effects of advanced aging in October 2016, refusing most food and fluids and rapidly losing weight. On 16 October, after having been found unable to walk, her vets decided to euthanize her. Then age 38 (114 in panda years), she was sometimes billed as the oldest panda in the world. She was definitely known to be the oldest panda in captivity. Although there is no such certain data regarding pandas in the wild, their life expectancy in the wild is 15 to 20 years, giving the claim a good likelihood of being correct.
The Park's Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre (MMBRC) houses a total of nine Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Previously in July 2009, Domino and Domisa, two dolphins from Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, arrived at Ocean Park. The dolphins, a father and daughter pair, were separated to ensure that they do not mate with each other. They formed part of Ocean Park's breeding programme. In May 2001, two of Ocean Park's female dolphins, Ada and Gina delivered two healthy calves, a female and male respectively, the world's first two bottlenose dolphin calves as a result of artificial insemination. This marked an important stage in reproductive physiology and controlled breeding of marine mammals.
- Orca – Miss Hoi Wai
Hoi Wai was a female Orca, who was captured near Iceland in 1975 and kept at Ocean Park between January 1979 and April 1997. Hoi wai was about 5 metres (16 ft) long and weighed about 1,800 kilograms (4,000 lb). She died from an infected wound in 1997. In Hong Kong, Miss Hoi Wai (海威小姐) is still considered an icon and celebrity to this day.
The Chinese sturgeon were introduced to the park in 2008, and as of 2013, Ocean Park houses nine Chinese sturgeons, displayed in Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze Exploration. To mark China's hosting the Olympic Games, the Chinese Central Government made a gift of five rare Chinese sturgeon, symbolising the five Olympic rings, with Ocean Park as the recipient. Two were bred by the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute and three by the Beijing Aquarium. The fish made their debut on 20 June 2008. However one of them died after a few days, apparently bitten by a barracuda. On 14 July 2008, it was announced that Hong Kong would receive another five sturgeons from the Chinese National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association in time for 8 August opening ceremony, to complement the four fish already in situ. The park's management decided to evict its sharks from their aquarium in favour of the new arrivals. On 12 December 2008, a second sturgeon died from an infection. A third one died from an injury and two nine-year-old sturgeon were found to be ill in January 2009. The two sick fish, measuring 2.3m and 1.5m, were returned to the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute for expert care.
Animal encounter programmes
Ocean Park runs a series of programmes called "Get Closer to the Animals" which offer supervised access to its resident animals, from swimming with dolphins to learning to be a panda keeper. Holders of a diving certificate can even enter the Grand Aquarium, while an overnight camp within its dome offers a drier way to view the underwater world. There are behind-the-scenes tours of many facilities, often including the chance to get close to animals such as penguins, seals and other polar animals.
Ocean Park introduced a waving sailor sea lion named Whiskers (known as Wai Wai in Chinese) as its major mascot in 2000. Subsequent members of the Ocean Park 'family' include James Fin (a shark), Jewel (a butterfly, now retired), Swift (a dolphin), Chief (a parrot), Professor (a turtle), Later Gator (an alligator), Redd (a red panda), Goldie (a goldfish), Tux (a penguin) and four giant pandas: An An, Jia Jia, Le Le and Ying Ying.
Ocean Park features a 1.5-kilometre (0.93 mi) long cable car system connecting the Waterfront and the Summit with an eight-minute journey, with the views of the South China Sea. It has a capacity of 4,000 passengers per hour with 252 cable cars on two pairs of ropeways. Each car can hold six passengers.
Hong Kong's second longest outdoor escalator system, at 225 metres long provides the main link between facilities at Tai Shue Wan and the Summit. (The longest system is the Central-Mid-levels Escalators).
The 'Ocean Express' funicular railway system between the Summit and the Waterfront can carry 5,000 people per hour on its three-minute journey. This themed ride utilises multimedia effects to simulate the feeling of travelling into the depths of the sea.
Mass Transit Railway (MTR)
Passengers may use any of the Aberdeen Tunnel bus routes and walk to the park from the Aberdeen Tunnel Toll Plaza bus stop.
The Park is also accessible by taxi, private hire car or personal car. The park provides some car park spaces close to the main entrance, however the car park can be busy during peak times. Road access is via Route 1 (Aberdeen Tunnel) from central and eastern districts of Hong Kong or Pok Fu Lam Road from western districts.
Ocean Park puts much effort into education and research about animal conservation, by operating observatories, laboratories, an education department, and the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK), a fund that advocates, facilitates and participates in the conservation of wildlife and habitats, with an emphasis on Asia, through research and education. In 2013/2014, the foundation funded 44 conservation projects, covering 30 species in 12 countries with a total of HK$13 million (out of the Park's total turnover of HK$2 billion), a sharp increase over funding a few years earlier. The foundation was formed in 2005 from the merger of two earlier organisations, the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF), founded 1993, and the Hong Kong Society for Panda Conservation (HKSPC), founded 1999.
Since 2006, OPCFHK has collaborated with the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to handle cetacean stranding cases within Hong Kong waters. After the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, OPCFHK established a Giant Panda Base Rebuilding Fund and donated equipment to the affected nature reserves.
Ocean Park has created education programmes, such as the Ocean Park Academy (OPA), begun in 2004, through which the Park runs educational tours for schoolchildren and workshops for teachers from the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Every year, the Park offers over 35 core courses for around 46,000 students on six big topics: giant pandas and red pandas, dolphins and sea lions, birds, fishes, plants, and mechanical rides.
The Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre (MMBRC) set up by Ocean Park serves as a centre to house nine dolphins and conduct research on the breeding of dolphins. MMBRC is divided into 6 separate activity zones, and provides behavioural training and basic husbandry to the dolphins. It also plays a part in research work on the echolocation capabilities of dolphins. For five weeks in 2013, MMBRC was open for public visits.
Ocean Park has been criticised by wildlife advocates for certain practices including the wild capture of large sea animals, such as dolphins and orca, and the presentation of shows featuring such animals performing. Opponents have highlighted their views on international "Empty the Tanks" day – a non-violent multinational demonstration that aims to end the capture and sale of wild dolphins to marine parks, where the creatures are said to die younger and breed much less. There is concern for the psychological state of the mammals alongside their physiological needs. And the advocates say it sends the wrong message, not only to visitors but also to marine parks in mainland China, which, if they copied the Park's practices, could have a significant impact on wild populations.
Major annual events
Ocean Park hosts five major events throughout the year: an Animal in High Definition Month, the Ocean Park Summer Splash, the Halloween Bash and Christmas and Chinese New Year celebrations.
Since 2008, the Park's annual Halloween events, held from September to 1 November, have become very popular, including among non-regular visitors. Themes such as "Fear Formula" and "Haunted Hong Kong" provide modern twists on the traditional haunted house along with various attractions and activities.
- Animal in High Definition Month
The Animal in High Definition Months enable visitors to encounter a variety of rare animals up close, with educational experts on hand to disseminate information about these creatures. The Animal in High Definition Month for 2010 had a reptile theme called, "Mighty Dragons". In 2012, the event let visitors explore Chinese national treasures, featuring the display of two Sichuan golden monkeys.
- Ocean Park Summer Splash
The event is held in summer every year, in which visitors partake in various wet and wild thrills including water games and water slides.
- Christmas Sensation
Christmas themed celebrations held from December to January every year.
- Chinese New Year Fiesta
Chinese New Year celebration events held around January to February every year. The celebration usually features lantern displays, God of Fortune visits, lion and dragon dances. In 2013, the CNY Fiesta featured a 12-metre spinning lantern, as well as a traditional Chinese drum show.
Ocean Park is planning to design a four-star, 495-room Ocean Hotel. Construction will start by the middle of 2014 at the earliest, with the hotel slated to open in 2017. Ocean Park will spend HK$2.5 billion on the hotel project and another HK$1.6 billion on land. Ocean Park's second hotel is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 or by early 2019.
Ocean Park will add 30 attractions in its latest round of development projects starting 2014. Among the new attractions will be a 400,000 sq ft Water World featuring an indoor surfing simulator, 13 slides, wave pools and a Lazy River. The park is also planning to provide free Wifi to visitors in the near future along with a smart phone application to check queue times at different attractions later in the year.
The park has won several awards, including The World's Seventh Most Popular Amusement Park and one of the "50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions in the world" by Forbes. In November 2012, Ocean Park became the first theme park in Asia to win the Applause Award from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
- On 5 December 2010, seven tourists were injured when a train driver triggered the emergency braking system by mistake on the Ocean Express tunnel railway. Ocean Park was required to install caps over the emergency brake button for their trains before reopening.
- A 50-year-old man, Cao Tao, on holiday from Hubei in China, fell to his death on 10 April 2014 as he was sitting on a railing, lost balance and fell 11 metres down from the area known as The Summit in Ocean Park. Police said an initial investigation found nothing suspicious and indicated it was an accident.
- On 16 September 2017, a 21-year-old man died inside Ocean Park's 2017 Halloween attraction called "Buried Alive", where guests lie in a coffin until the bottom drops out, sending them down a slide. The man had accidentally entered a staff-only area, and was hit on the head by the coffin bottom. The man was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital and certified dead. Legislators and industry experts questioned why the dangerous restricted area was not locked and clearly marked with warning signage.
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