Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ocean Park

Ocean Park, opened in 1975, can be found in the south of Hong Kong and prior to the arrival of Disney pretty much had a Monopoly on the theme park industry on the island. Their arrival however has meant that they've had to up their game and for the enthusiasts that can only mean one thing, better rides.

With the cyclone having passed by in the morning, and the weather returning to normal, more people had gone out and the gatherings at the entrance to the park meant that we were prepared for a busy day. However that wasn't to be the case, the park had kindly rolled out VIP treatment to us all, walking us onto all the rides without the need to queue.

It was obvious that the theming in the park was pretty impressive and unique. These guys clearly had a budget.

The animal topiary was cool too!

The park is on two sites separated by a huge mountain. In previous years the only way to get between the two was via a cable car, however in the last year they'd built a submarine themed funicular, complete with Big Daddy waiting for you at the entrance.

Strange "Despicable Me" themed bollards.

The winged star flyer ride must offer a pretty good view off the mountain.

Atop the mountain is a really brightly coloured and well themed midway and ride area called Thrill Mountain, with a huge Luna Park style mouth entrance to their latest coaster.

Built in 2011, the Hair Raiser coaster is a floorless B&M coaster and a rather decent ride to boot. Ride Operations had me take my glasses off regardless of strap, which was a little annoying. This was something I'd be asked to do a lot on this trip so I let it slide. 

It's positioning along the edge of the mountain edge gave it a unique view from the ride as your twisted from the blue sky to a mixture of blue sea, and green land, blurry with my lack of eyes.

Another peculiar location for a "Mind Your Head" sign.

A similar view of sea and land can be got from the Flash ride, which we were also granted exit access to, although not everyone in the group was up for this.

Coaster number 2 was a cool bobsled themed powered coaster. Despite not being particularly high like the Hair Raiser ride it still offered good views. Ocean Park certainly know how to make good use of the view offered from the top of the mountain, something I'd previously only said about Tibidabo in Spain.

Somehow overlooked on the way in was the rapids ride, which a few of us had a go on. Being the water magnet that I am I definitely came back the wettest.

This is the rather cool cable car that carries people between the two parts of the park. We'd be riding that later.

More great views from the top of the park.

As part of our VIP treatment we were given an exclusive tour through the jellyfish enclosure. As well as having the rides the park has a large aquarium and does some quite major work with dolphins and other sea creatures.

From our rather superb restaurant where were joined by the park board (yep, CEO and co) we had a great side view of the Hair Raiser ride. The cable car engineer has a great ride all to himself. Requests to ride that were not surprisingly turned down.

There are plenty of escalators to get you around the park, in fact the world's second longest outdoor escalator can be found here. (The longest is elsewhere in Hong Kong and runs for 20 minutes :o ). For those that have been to Hollywood Universal it's like the system that gets you to Transformers, only there's a lot more of it.

One of the many posters on the escalators tickled me, and I had to explain to others why I was bursting out laughing, but it was hard to do so as we'd have already passed the poster. Only when the next occurrence of it came along could I explain.

Basically it whilst everyone was posing for the camera, one girl was too engrossed in eating her fishcake, or chicken or whatever it was to care. I also think she didn't care much for her hair piece.

At the foot of the escalators was this cool looking coaster, deemed to be the most scenic of all the rollercoasters in the world. In a "Kanye West to Taylor Swift" stylee I'll say that it's good but it's not the best; There's an Alpine Coaster at Lake Bled in Slovenia that I think is still more beautiful than this.

Also down this section of the park is their log flume. Laughing at the umbrella sign we soon came to realise why they had it. This flume was easily the wettest flume I'd ever done. The dull parts on the track were littered with sprinkler systems that kept the plants green and the riders wet. A lot of us left the ride looking like we'd just come off a giant splash ride. 

What a gaudy paint job on their corkscrew. We'd be heading off to that next.

On the side of the mountain is the park's water show. I couldn't help but wonder if a dolphin has ever attempted to escape from the tank by leaping over the side. The idea of a dolphin sliding down the mountainside trying to get to the sea could be an idea for a Free Willy sequel.

A quick opportunity to ride the tower ride, which offered great views to the group and blurred views to those of us who had to remove our glasses.

The Dragon coaster wasn't too bad actually despite the Opal Fruit theming on its paintwork. 

It's the little touches that I tend to notice when I visit parks (such as a bored girl eating a fishcake) but I liked that they'd painted the air tanks. It's the simple things that please the simple folk like me.

Riding the cable car down back to the entrance and the other side of the park. The view from here was great. 

Andy purchases some vegetables for dinner.

Crazy tumbling show.

We didn't spend much time in this side of the part as all the rides are up the mountain but I've heard that the Aquarium and Panda exhibit are both worth doing in their own right. So next time I'm in Hong Kong I'll focus on those...although the park has revealed that in order to compete with Disney there are some more coasters to come.

The Chinese, like their Japanese counterparts, are forever taking photos. This chap spent forever trying to get shots of him and his daughter. She was quite clearly bored.

Myself and Jeff decide to parody them by trying to get the perfect "Drunken Man Falling Down the Stairs" shot.

Ocean Park is definitely a "wow" park and holds up really well to the Disney park on the other side of the island. One thing I hadn't realised about this park is that it's not a for-profit park in the true sense. Having been founded by the famous Jockey Club of Hong Kong its now run by a government subsidiary; there is no business accountable to shareholders behind it. There are a small number of parks around the world that operate on a non-commerical model and those I recall are all great. Europa, Linnanmaki and now this one and these would just never happen in the UK. Although I do like the idea of someone going up to David Cameron asking for money to buy a B&M coaster.

No comments:

Post a Comment