Yes, I did it. I cheated on Disneyland.
I couldn’t help myself. The pull of wild roller coasters and giant pandas was to much for my weak heart.
The place in question is known as Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s main theme park and resident of every top ten list for the country. Though it is no Disney, I must admit that fun was had by all.
Ocean Park is located on Hong Kong Island and is easily access by MTR -> bus -> park. A one day ticket was $345HKD but apparently there are multiple ways to score some serious discounts if you know where to look. Also, annual passes are available at a number of different prices.
I was accompanied by some of my Monkey Tree people who were gracious enough to allow me to place a camera in their face for the duration of the day.
We arrived at the park about twenty minutes early on a dreary, drizzly Sunday morning. Although the park wasn’t overly crowded at that time I would suggest arriving as early as possible because “Hong Kong” and “empty” are two things that rarely go together. Once the rope was dropped it was off to the cable car entrance. Ocean Park is located in a very odd mountain/cliff area which means that it had to be built in two different locations. This provides an awesome landscape for cliffside roller coasters but presents an issue for getting around the park. This means that you have to take either the cable car or the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea– esque train from one section to the other. Also be prepared for a lot of escalators and stairs.
The rides themselves range from tame to terrifying. Bumper cars, river rapids, swings and more for the younger crowd; and a dropping tower, serious coasters, and the epic Flash for the adrenaline junkies. Seriously that ride is insane and I want one for my apartment.
The food is quite typical for theme parks: fried and over priced. We ate lunch at the McDonalds inside the park and it was about twice the regular price. The food choices range from pizza to more traditional Chinese food such as dumplings in the Old Hong Kong section. One thing we noticed was how little candy was available. We all got a craving for some chocolate and all we could find were these weird strawberry jellies covered in craptastic chocolate. Big disappointment there.
Staying true to its name, Ocean Park is ocean themed and features some incredible aquariums. The animal attractions actually are more popular than the rides. The Grand Aquarium, located at the front of the park, is the main attraction but smaller areas are scattered throughout the park. Some of the tanks featured the largest manta rays I had ever seen and some very impressive sharks. The final tank in the grand is one giant wall of glass filled with all types of exotic sea creatures.
Don’t miss the penguin exhibit! It’s small and only takes a few minutes but they have an impressive collection (herd? group?) of penguins to observe.
Although we decided to pass on the shows thanks to Blackfish, aquatic performances are also available. Ocean Park is very comparable to Sea World I would think, although I’ve never been to one myself. The enclosures for both the fish and the mammals seemed pretty nice which left me pleasantly surprised.
After you’ve had your fill of the sea you can head on over to what the park is probably best known for: the giant pandas. Ocean Park is home to three giant pandas and and handful of red pandas. We were lucky and the pandas were quite active whilst we were there. Yes, there were huge crowds and most people were simply looking at the bears through their camera screens but how cool is it to say you’ve seen pandas in china?! Kinda really deally.
After we saw the pandas we grabbed some ice cream and a few of us were accosted by some Chinese women for a series of photos. Seriously, they made a line and chose between which westerners they wanted their picture with. Its happened to me before but not quite to that degree, the choke hold I received from one woman was a bit much.
Anyway, the whole day was a success and although I stand by my Disneyland forever, I’m really glad I visited Ocean Park and think it’s worth a visit if you’re in HK for a while. Is it a top ten-ner? Hmm, maybe not; unless pandas or mantas are high on your list.