Despite this place's having less annual visitors than it's rival Hong Kong Disneyland, it holds a special place in the locals' hearts. Why is it so popular? Probably because it has been around for a very long time. I've visited the park for the first time in the 1990's and went back for the second time in 2011. I've seen it in the early days and have witnessed how much it has changed in the 21st century!
Let me show you around the park. Let's begin!
Note: You don't need to swim to see the fish. :)
How is the Ocean Park today different from what it was in the 1990's
In the early days, guests can travel between the two main areas (which are separated by mountains) by cable car, escalators, and shuttle bus. Now, you can also travel by express train! I really appreciate this addition because it will greatly benefit people who want speed but have fear of heights (like me and my dad). To be honest, I didn't even know about the escalators and the shuttle bus until I've read it on Wikipedia. If only we knew this, my dad and I wouldn't have to take the cable car years ago!
The downside about the express train is you won't see much from inside the train. There is no stunning scenery to look at as you move your way to the Summit. It's like taking a subway. The park tries to remedy this by adding lights and images inside the train to make it look like you're under the ocean.
This is a wonderful addition in Ocean Park. This is what makes the park a truly unique and a must-see place. You can't just see pandas anywhere you know! You have to meet pandas An An and Jia Jia no matter what! They were given to Hong Kong as gifts from China after Britain returned it to the latter. (I wish China would give me one too.) They are kept inside air-conditioned rooms behind glasses so spectators can watch them eat, sleep, play, and do whatever things pandas do. You're lucky if they get near the glass so you can take a close-up picture with them!
Animal Attractions in Ocean Park
HKJC Giant Panda Habitat
Unfortunately, we had only seen one of the two legendary pandas. A staff was cleaning the chamber of the other panda. The panda that was present had its back facing us most of the time, and it wouldn't come near us.
Look at this one, it seems like this fellow is wearing lipstick!
Giant Panda Adventure
The other pandas, named Ying Ying and Le Le, reside here. Unlike HKJC, this is an outdoor attraction. There are also red pandas and Chinese Giant Salamanders.
The red pandas look more like a hybrid of a red fox and a squirrel. They climb trees and are really adorable.
Sea Jelly Spectacular
I'm 100% sure that Spongebob would love it here. You'll see various jellyfish displayed in this attraction! The special lightings in the tanks make the jellies look like they're changing colors and glowing in the dark! To let us view the jellies in their most magnificent form, the room was darkened. It's tough to get a nice shot of the jellies with just an ordinary point-and-shoot camera. We also couldn't take our pictures with them since our faces became too dark in the foreground.
I think feeding the animals requires additional fees, so we just walked around the place and admired the seals and the sea lions from afar. To be honest, I can't even spot the difference between them! They are happily sunbathing in the open area. They looked really cute when they walk/crawl! They were bouncing up and down when they move around. We reached an indoor area with tanks. From there, we could see the seals under the water. Some were swimming toward us! My dad and I ran back and forth to keep up with them. They were so fast. We didn't give up until we got nice unblurred photos of them!
Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium - Yangtze Exploration
As the walkalator moves forward, you'll be led under a huge dome-shaped aquarium with several Chinese sturgeons swimming inside. It feels like you're under the sea! However, the trip is quite short. I was expecting it to be long because of the Yangtze River reference. Anyway, it sure was short but it was still pretty cool. It was also a bit scary seeing huge fish swimming over you.
The Grand Aquarium
This is the BEST attraction in my opinion. This is what makes Ocean Park, well, Ocean Park! There are gigantic aquariums inside. Unlike the Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium, you'll see wide ranges of fish here. I saw fish swimming in schools, huge shark look-alike fish lying on its stomach, beautiful corals, stingrays, and many more species that I didn't even know existed. Sadly, since this was the last attraction that we went to, our camera batteries were almost dead by the time we reached here!
Ocean Park Rides
This ride will lift you to the sky and make you soar like an eagle. I think I'll look more like a helpless kitten instead of a graceful eagle at that altitude. As if the height isn't enough to scare me, the cars spin too.
I'm not sure if it's because I'm standing merely 5-foot tall or my fear of heights, but this one looks really high! Just looking up at it makes my legs wobbly (I'm not exaggerating). I skipped this ride and made some excuses like "Oh, it's too hot!" or "I'm tired".
This will send you "flying" up there in all directions. It would turn your insides upside down. I don't understand why theme parks invent this kind of torture machines. I could clearly hear people's screams. Or maybe they were enjoying when they scream? It looks very dizzying and I would probably throw up up there.
Just seeing its name makes me want to stay away from this ride. It has two tall towers with cars encircling each of them. There are no base or footings in the car, so the riders' feet are left hanging in midair. The cars slowly ascends. When it reaches the top, it pauses before it makes one huge drop. I don't like the feeling of falling. So again, I didn't dare to take this ride.
Ocean Park Tower
This one is not meant to scare people like me. It's an observation tower that gives you a panoramic view of the park and beyond as the deck slowly rotates. I've been here when I was a kid. It wasn't bad, but it was not that special either.
We had our lunch at Panda Cafe which has dishes from Sichuan province, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. We picked it because of the panda theme!
There are also food kiosks around the park. I really love the dried squid. The mere smell of it made me hungry!