Aberdeen, Hong Kong
“A theme park with a view”
I’m a Disney fanboy and I’m proud of it. Orlando doesn’t make me think of mister Bloom, but it’s the location of Walt Disney World. When you ask me about my favourite Japanese mountain, I’d prefer Mount Prometheus over Mount Fuji. And when you mention Hong Kong, I’ll always think of a dark ride called Mystic Manor. Still, Hong Kong is more than just a Disney destination. It’s actually one of the most all-round travel destinations I know: it takes less than an hour to travel from the bustling streets of Hong Kong Island to the lush jungles in the New Territories. And for theme park enthusiasts, there’s more than Disneyland alone. A few miles south of the city, you’ll find another place which made it to the top 20 of busiest theme parks in the world: Ocean Park.
Travelling to Ocean Park has become a lot easier and faster during the past few years. In 2013, we needed to take a shuttle bus from the Admiralty MTR station to the park. Nowadays, a brand-new MTR line travels directly between the city centre and Ocean Park. Just take the South Island line and you’ll be dropped off right in front of the park’s main gate.
Ocean Park is home to four roller coasters. The least interesting one is Arctic Blast. In fact, I even consider it as the worst Mack powered coaster ever. The layout is okay, but it seems as if they forgot to turn off the handbrake. The ride is actually so slow that even the youngest passengers seem bored. In addition, Arctic Blast has an ugly station (where is the roof?!) and the on-ride photo is made manually while boarding the train. Very exciting… not.
Wild West Mine Train is one of the park’s most photographed roller coasters.. and for a good reason. Although it’s actually a rather simple coaster, it offers breathtaking views of the high-rise buildings in nearby Aberdeen and the gigantic container ships passing by. Those views create a unique ride, so it’s kind of pointless that Ocean Park added virtual reality to Wild West Mine Train. That’s right: this might be the coaster with the most unusual views on the planet, but you’re able to experience it with VR glasses. The VR option is closed due to the weather today, but I wasn’t planning on riding with these silly glasses anyway.
The mine train isn’t the only ride with unbeatable views. Unfortunately, the views are the only good thing about a coaster called Dragon. This is an Arrow Dynamics creation with two lift hills, three inversions and some of the most painful transitions in coaster history. Besides, the colour scheme isn’t exactly stunning either. Needless to say… the overall experience is rather weak. Ocean Park seems to agree and they’re planning to remove Dragon soon.
Hair Raiser is unarguably the best roller coaster at Ocean Park. This ride was built by B&M and it was inaugurated in 2011. This is a Floorless Coaster which was built on Thrill Mountain, the most elevated part of the park. Thrill Mountain mainly consists of simple flat rides, cheap-looking arcade games and brightly coloured panels. It may be the least attractive part of Ocean Park and that circus-themed B&M doesn’t look stunning either. Not stunning, but hey… it’s a B&M. And B&M coasters tend to be super smooth, intense and extremely fun. Unfortunately, that isn’t entirely true in this case. The second half of the layout is boring and Hair Raiser is considerably rougher than I expected. It’s not too bad if you’re seated in the train’s middle seats, but the seats on the outside provide a shaky experience. On a more positive note, I’d like to mention the ride’s unique location on a mountain cliff and the awesome airtime hill after the second inversion.
If you’re only interested in roller coasters, you may close this page right now. As its name suggests, Ocean Park is a zoological park with a focus on marine animals. The park is home to the Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium and the impressive Shark Mystique, which includes at least 21,000 teeth. However, the ultimate undersea destination can be found near the park entrance and it’s appropriately called The Grand Aquarium. This walk-through literally surrounds us with aquariums, which can be admired from every possible angle. Even if you’re not slightly interested in fish or whatsoever, you shouldn’t miss The Grand Aquarium while visiting Ocean Park. This truly is a visual spectacle.
The most popular exhibit is Amazing Asian Animals, which is obviously dedicated to local creatures. The true super stars in this area are giant pandas and they cause some kind of mass hysteria here at Ocean Park. Honestly, I don’t see what the fuss is all about. They’re just sleepy giants that barely move. No, then I actually prefer those other Amazing Asian Animals, including red pandas, Chinese alligators and a huge gold fish collection.
Hong Kong can get extremely hot and humid in summer, but the park provided ways to cool off. The Rapids is one the best themed rides at Ocean Park. This rapid river winds through a beautiful landscape and an elevated pathway delivers some perfect views. The attraction isn’t soaking at all, but that can be considered as good news with the poor weather conditions we encountered at Ocean Park. More water-based fun is provided by Raging River, Ocean Park’s classic log flume. I’m glad that I survived the rapid river without getting soaked and I decide to skip this second risk to get wet. Queues are nonexistent, which is probably due to the ride’s very remote location.
Ocean Park is a beautiful park, but most attractions are standard and not themed that much. However, the most unique aspect of this park is the unusual layout. Ocean Park is divided into two separate parts: The Waterfront near the park’s entrance and The Summet, a hilly terrain where most of the rides are located. The Waterfront and The Summet aren’t linked with pathways. The only way to travel between both sections is by making use of Ocean Park’s two transportation systems. They’ve got the Ocean Park Cable Car and a unique funicular which is called Ocean Express. This attraction feels like a subway with Jules Verne theming. And thanks to its huge capacity, this is without a doubt the quickest way to get from The Waterfront to The Summet or vice versa.
WORTH A VISIT?
Today was all about water. We enjoyed stunning views of the South China Sea, we admired hundreds of sea creatures and… it rained almost constantly. The weather was terrible (even the dolphins hated it; their show was cancelled because of unfavourable weather conditions) but it fortunately didn’t ruin our day. I enjoyed Ocean Park’s great animal exhibits and the unparalleled location. But despite all this beauty, Ocean Park just doesn’t impress me. The roller coasters are so-so and most attractions are poorly themed. The park really lacks a signature dark ride and a fantastic coaster, so these would be the perfect additions if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong: Ocean Park is well worth a visit if you go to Hong Kong, but it’s a very mediocre experience if you compare it to the nearby Disney park.
Photo Gallery 2013 & 2019
What’s your favourite theme park in Hong Kong? Is Hair Raiser the B&M with the most unusual location? Do rainy days ruin your theme park experience? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.