Ocean Park

Yesterday I took a trip to Ocean Park in a group of about 12 people arranged via Rich from the online expat forums. Ocean Park is the local amusement park and is therefore the natural competitor to Disneyland – which of course, I’ve been to previously and not thought very much of. The descriptions I’d heard of Ocean Park were that it was much bigger with a greater variety of rides. Fingers crossed for a good time. With it being close to Hallowe’en they re-open the park from 5:30pm to midnight with a Hallowe’en theme to it all. Haunted houses, staff members dressed up as zombies, and general scaring going on. All the rides are open as per usual, but the main attractions are the Hallowe’en themed rides/experiences.

Getting there proved straightforward enough with taxis, although as to be expected with a large group it took a bit of time to get co-ordinated. Once in the park itself we decided it would be worth seeing the pandas. There are, so far as I can tell, three pandas at Ocean Park, with the two most recent juveniles having been gifted to China to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover. It was certainly impressive to see the three pandas, but they don’t exactly do very much. I suspect they would give koala bears a run for their money in terms of complete inactivity. Still, it’s one more thing I can tick off: China – seen pandas.

Ocean Park itself seems to be split in two with a great big hill separating the ‘lowlands’ from the ‘headland’. These are linked via a cable car system, and most of the interesting stuff seemed to be in the headland section, so it was time to join our first queue for the cable cars. Not unlike other theme parks I’ve been to over the world, Ocean Park involves a lot of queueing. (only Disneyland Hong Kong didn’t involve a lot of queueing, but that’s because it was crap) After we’d regrouped and walked a bit, itquickly became apparent that it was going to be impossible to please everyone in one large group. After a bit of a discussion we split up into a group of 7 or so who were going to queue for the haunted houses and the jellyfish exhibit, and a smaller group of 4 who fancied walking round the shark exhibit and then doing some of the adrenalin rides. I was part of this latter group – considering as a child I wouldn’t go near the adrenaline rides, I’m making up for it now.

The sharks weren’t bad – sadly no great white in the exhibit, but a pretty cool walk through section where you can watch the sharks above you. Conveniently, it seems during Hallowe’en the queues for the adrenaline rides are much reduced and we were able to get on all the one’s we wanted – once we actually figured out how to get to them. Although we were armed with maps, which had the rides names and general locations on them, the actual paths must have been drawn by Stevie Wonder. The situation was not helped by having lots of temporary signs around (for the haunted attractions) and of course, with it being dark and smoky (smoke is of course spooky) made navigation not easy. Also you could be trampled over by a stampede of frightened Asians (men and women I should add) who would charge at the slightest boo from the staff. I can understand the odd jump, but a stampede is a bit OTT.

Our stratgey of leaving the haunted attractions until later in the night appeared to pay off, as we managed the Dragon (looping rollercoaster), the Abyss (drop seat thingy), the Mine Train (runaway train rollercoaster), and then queued for the Raging Rive. It turned out that Raging River had been coverted into Haunted Ghost Town, so you get the log flume with the added extra of haunting! The haunting was a bit disappointing… Surprising, eh? It consisted of a couple of staff jumping out and shouting Argh! or Boo! at 2 or 3 points along the ride. Considering it was about an hour of queueing, not really worth it. The log flume itself was good fun though, and got soaked. Whilst we were in the queue it was amusing to watch other groupos coming down – quite a few of which were wearing ponchos and other methods of trying to prevent getting wet. Can’t say I really understand why you’d go on the log flume and try not to get wet.

Just to round the night off, we queued and got round one of the haunted houses – Dementia. Pretty well done – with the usual staff jumping out at various points, compressed air things, things that go bang, and the usual wax models who spring out of various places. Not exactly scary – the occasional jumpy moment when you didn’t see it coming. My own opinion is the adrenaline rides were more fun.

As ever with these places, getting away is always tricky. There were loads of taxis at the exit as well as buses back to Admiralty. Three of us from our groupo decided to take the bus back and then get a taxi from there on back home. Sadly there seemed to be one bus for about 300 people which rapidly filled up. So, standing in the queue the officials in charge of filling the buses suddenly seemed to pick people at random out of the queue and indicate to them they could get on the bus. With about 100 people in front of us one of the officials passes us and says that this bus is nearly full (we’d kind of seen that), and that the next bus has been delayed, but if we’re in a hurry we can get on this bus. Bearing in mind, it’s about 12:30am by now, we couldn’t really see that we were in any more hurry than anyone else. Obviously some people were in such a hurry. To just top off the comedy aspect of this announcement over the official’s shoulder we see two more buses due to go Admiralty arriving. Big delay then! Despite the slightly chaotic feel to things, we did get hom quickly and easily in the end.

So, overall, I’d say Ocean Park is good. Much bigger than Disneyland, and rides that are actually good fun and a bit of a rush. The map is pretty poor, and the fact that the cable car is a bottleneck is a bit unfortunate. Apparently they’re blasting a tunnel through the hill that separates the park in two and creating a funnicular (similar to the peak tram system). I’d probably be tempted to go again as well – except next time I’d buy a privilege ticket. Like a lot of theme parks, these give you acclereated access to the main attractions, for an extra fee of course…

I pick up my ID card tomorrow. As per a previous post on the subject I’m absolutely delighted by the prospect.

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2 Responses to “Ocean Park”

  1. johniebg Says:

    I am not sure what it is about these posts, maybe because I worked with you for four years, and like anyone that will have done that for so long, have wondered what was going on inside that head of yours.

    Now I know I wish I had made more effort to find out, although I think I made a valient attempt at the time. These are not only well written but funny and thoroughly charming for their absolute honesty.

    I think I may almost miss you.

    PS it does not seem obvious how to post comments now. Not sure what changed?

  2. Stuart Says:

    Sounds like it beats ‘Luna Park’ then!

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