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Ocean Park Trip Report - 2/8/2013


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  • [Pictures] Ocean Park Trip Report - 2/8/2013

    Trip Report

    Ocean Park

    Aberdeen, Hong Kong

    Friday, February 8th, 2013
    Weather: Cloudy with some light rain, windy, 60
    Crowds: Light-Moderate

    A trip to another renowned theme park the next day is the perfect way to avoiding dwelling on not being at Disneyland anymore. Forgoing the unnecessary second day there gave us a chance to hit this highly regarded park, and we were eager to see how this aquatic-tilted attraction mixed traditional thrills with animal encounters.

    I suppose Sea World is the obvious analogue here, but the cultural differences and unmatched geographical placement of Ocean World put it in a category beyond the mix of rides and marine life we're used to from the American chain. I'll get to the jaw-droppingly absurd location of the park soon, but first we had to get there.

    In a stroke of luck, we had seen signs indicating the Ocean World bus at the Admiralty station while sightseeing on our first day. We had no idea if this was the most effective way of getting to the park, but we were planning on taking public transport, and having heard a bus is required, it seemed like the way to go.

    Like the day before, we left with all kinds of time to spare. We didn't know what we needed to do to coordinate the bus, but it was easy enough to follow the signs in the metro station to the proper exit. It took just a second when we got up to the street to see a booth plastered in Ocean Park ads, and there were even a few folks in front of it.

    Joining the line, we could see that it was selling both bus and park tickets, and would be open for business in just a few minutes. Along the curb were a series of city buses with the route number for the park, ready to go, and we were pleased with how easy this would be. Already with park tickets ($40 each, pre-purchased online), we just needed to pay for the ride, and the ticket agent even offered us the round-trip tickets we would need.

    Moments later we climbed aboard the bus, and soon after that, it headed out and we were zipping around the city streets. We quickly traded spotless skyscrapers for apartments looking a bit more shabby than what we had seen so far, and the final part of the drive was through an extended tunnel underneath the mountains, leading to the back of the island.

    Wildly unique, from top to bottom
    Some of the better themeing outside of Disney or Universal
    At 10am, they were open for business and we followed the stream into the park and wrapped through it up to the gondola station. The scenery we passed was quite well done, especially the Old Hong Kong area, and it again rivaled Disneyland even if it was entirely unfamiliar to us.

    Into the queue, the line of people ahead was still a ways back from the station. There was a disappointing lack of activity, and after a couple confused minutes, word came that there was a wind hold keeping the ride offline. Given the grey, blustery weather, this surprised no one, but we were a little bothered that we had walked all the way back here.

    Doubling back to the center of the lower section, we had to settle for the Summit Express to reach the peak. Much of the mild frustration was abated when we got in line and were able to take in the elaborate Jules Verve treatment. Imposing faux-riveted steel surrounded us, and the illusion of an impending submarine voyage was rather convincing. I suppose it was more like we were surfacing rather than submerging, but we were eager to set sail either way.

    The limited uphill capacity resulted in us needing to wait for an extra cycle, but these railways fortunately run in pairs to counterbalance, so it was only a couple minutes. Being among the first to board, we selfishly snagged one of the few benches and made the smooth climb. The simulated underwater views on an overhead LCD screen were a notable touch.

    This guy is way too eager
    Smartly having taken the highest car, we exited close to the front of the upper station, and stayed ahead of the crowd as we swung around to catch the escalator to the peak, dubbed Thrill Mountain. From there, it was hard to miss our first stop, as Hair Raiser sports one of the most manic entrance facades you'll ever see. The wild, seemingly insane visage is a clear throwback to the unmistakable marquees of Luna Parks around the globe past and present, and it sets the tone perfectly for a coaster that really stands out.

    The only down side was it didn't lead to an operating coaster. For a moment we wondered if we were jinxed, and only a minute after we saw Arctic Blast zip by with passengers aboard, we bailed and headed there. We walked right into the station not more than 50 yards away and caught the still loading single train.

    Powered coasters can be fun too
    It was not the thrilling experience we would have gotten next door, but it was a brisk ride around the peak, and the weather only added to its polar treatment. It seemed a smooth place to start for a young audience, and we were even slightly amused by the double circuit.

    Having seen Hair Raiser in action while still aboard, we went right back to it and entered the brightly colored queue. From there we could really feel the wind that was still keeping the gondolas shuttered, and we were able to get our first real taste of how absurdly placed this coaster is. Not only does the course of the ride take place on a cliffside some 500+ feet above the harbor below, but once we got into the station, we could see that the lift climbed a sheer rock wall to the absolute highest point in the park.

    Might as well start all the way at the top
    The single train operation with some unremarkable loading speed left us a wait of several cycles that took about 10 minutes, and we tried to stay warm as we approached the partially exposed station. It was kept empty, and we lucked out with the front row, a treat especially enjoyable on this unique installation.

    The train makes a left turn out of the station and immediately begins its steep and scenic climb. Worth the price of admission, the views are as stunning as any amusement ride can afford, and be warned that the sharp drop will take you by surprise as you continue to take it in. While not directly below you, the pitch might be closer than you are comfortable with, and you can easily lose your bearings as the series of flips and spins are executed with riders considerably exposed.

    As a source of thrills, the short course provides about what you might expect from this model of coaster. It's a decent enough rush, though nothing an intermediate coaster rider with a visit to almost any Six Flags park under their belt would be troubled by. It does sport some noticeable vibration, almost bordering on roughness. I found it mildly unpleasant, but we were up front, so I'd be wary about a spin in the back. Still, it remained a wildly unique experience, and easily positive on the whole. You won't soon forget what you see.

    Unlike the rather compact and easily accessible lower portion, this part of the park sprawled up, down, and around the crest, often with labyrinthine pathways. It behooves you to be efficient about touring the park, and to that end we didn't rush of for the next coaster and instead took in some a few of the first animal attractions of the day.

    O RLY
    Closer in theme to Arctic Blast (Hair Raiser forgivably stands out), the options up here are tours of the polar extremes. The North Pole was up first, and here we could see seals and a walrus in a pleasant but not overly adorned venue. We didn't bother trying to sync with any of the feeding times, so we mostly watched them aimlessly mill about, though that's usually pleasant enough.

    The most memorable sighting was an impromptu encounter with a stunning snowy owl, perched on a handler's arm mere feet from where we were sitting. Surprisingly serene, I've never seen an animal that appeared to be so happy about living in captivity. Then again, that might just be what their faces look like.

    Next door was the arctic fox den. While much smaller in size, it did max out on the cuteness scale as there were several of these fuzzy white guys scampering about in their smallish enclosure. Finally, a trip to the south pole had us eyeing a terrific penguin exhibit. Not just pools on both sides, the floor was even made of paneled glass in spots, allowing views of darting penguins below our feet. So far we were impressed with the facilities - really seemed on par with any of the better aquariums we've been to, though we could have done without seemingly every attraction letting out into a souvenir shop.

    Moving on, we began to descend (though no path goes solely up or down), and we came to the main crossroads connecting the various levels of this upper half. I was still subtly aiming for the Dragon, the last (running) coaster, but we were fine to make some stops along the way. At this intersection is the observation tower, a handy landmark and a means of getting to eye quite a large chunk of the island itself.

    I'm gonna call this pretty good use of terrain
    The front half of the park was still hidden behind the mountain itself, but this half and a series of adjacent harbors were impressive to behold, even despite the low clouds. A little further in the distance were more container ships than you could count dotting the sea, and it was a reminder of exactly how formidable the Port of Hong Kong really is.

    After the short wait and the pleasant ride, we tried to decipher the confusing park map, and tried to plot a direct path to the Dragon. I will stress it again, nothing in this half on the park is direct, and we spent our entire visit up here with more than a vague sense of disorientation.

    The route I devised took us across the top of the dolphin stadium, and it just happened to have a show about to start. We were just as interested in exiting quickly as we were in the show itself, so we found some seats just shy of the top, and watched dolphins flip, sea lions wave and blow kisses, and the usual repertoire of antics you'd expect from these marine mammals. It was worth the pause, but we were okay to miss the last few acrobatics to stay ahead of the sizable audience.

    Not the roughest part of the ride
    One of the quieter spots you'll find in a park
    No one knows which way is up
    Just your average seaside park, right?
    I'm left to only imagine how awesome that weird globe helix is
    Some coasters are harder to get to than others
    Back down to ground level
    Eating food from the street is an Asian tradition
    Being endangered is hungry work
    He's all sticky and weird
    I could do that, I just don't wanna
    Fire and water make for some entertaining danger <- Go there, it's good!

  • #2
    Re: Ocean Park Trip Report - 2/8/2013

    Wow what a great report. Thank you for sharing !


    • #3
      Re: Ocean Park Trip Report - 2/8/2013

      My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it! <- Go there, it's good!


      • #4
        Re: Ocean Park Trip Report - 2/8/2013

        cute trip report!
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