The night before we were due to fly to Hong Kong, my younger brother started messaging me about the research he had done on an amusement park in Hong Kong. Since we had already planned to visit Hong Kong Disneyland (more on that in a later post), James and I had already decided that our budget couldn’t really stretch to cover another theme park. My brother however, had other ideas, informed me that there were giant pandas at the park and then later informed me that he had put money into my account to cover the cost of the tickets as a Christmas present! A very generous and thoughtful present, from a generous and sweet brother (though he would kill me if he ever found out that I had described him as sweet!)
The park opening hours ran from 10am to 6pm so we decided to head in early to make the most of the day. James and I stayed in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong which seemed fairly central to a lot of attractions. The nearest metro station to us was the Tsim Sha Tsui (commonly referred to as TST), it’s a mainline station which was less than a 10-minute walk from our hotel so (after two train changes along the way) we were at Ocean Park within 25 minutes of leaving. It was amazing how easy it was to navigate the transport systems in Hong Kong!
Walking into the park was a great experience, we were greeted by music and park employees handing out park schedules. We walked into the main entrance area to find the main notice board where we could find a park map printed in English. This was stood in front of a huge water fountain which would later feature a performance of colourful lights.
I really enjoy visiting theme parks, even though I don’t enjoy going on massive roller coasters (yes, I’m strange I know) so at this point I was buzzing with excitement. James wandered off in search of a drink and I looked through the map to try and decide where we should visit first. Since the park was actually quite big and was split into 7 different areas (including different areas for the animals that live in the park) and since it was still pretty quiet at this point (and actually stayed quite quiet throughout most of the day) so we decided to make use of this fact and headed towards the ‘Amazing Asian Animals’ section so that we could get a good view of the giant pandas.
Let’s just say that my day was topped pretty early because the pandas were amazing! I’ve only seen real giant pandas once before during a trip to Edinburgh and they were quite sleepy at the time. The pandas in Ocean Park were particularly active and one made me laugh when he (if I remember correctly) started rubbing his butt up against a tree- I suppose if you’ve got to scratch, you’ve got to scratch! Also in this section of the park were some red pandas, a crocodile and a number of different bird houses. We even stopped for a character meet with the park mascot ‘Whiskers’.
We caught a cable car which took us to ‘thrill mountain’ on the other side of the park. A lot of the park is built around a mountain, so you can either walk, get a cable car or jump in the Ocean Express which is an underground train that will take you to the top of the mountain. There was one particularly crazy big rollercoaster called ‘hair raiser’ which had the added terror factor of a giant clown’s face. It’s safe for you to assume that I let James ride on the coaster while I bravely held the bags!
It’s worth noting that once you exit the cable cars, you can get a fantastic view of the south of the island.
After we rode some of the more family friendly coasters (because I’m a wimp) we decided to walk around the artic enclosure where we saw penguins and a couple of real life artic foxes, beautiful! At this point we were starting to feel hungry, so we decided to leave the animals behind in search of some lunch. We spotted that the park had its own McDonalds and as it was actually the cheapest option on site we made our way there. On reflection, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a McDonalds onsite at a theme park before, is it a common thing?
Lunch done, we needed warming up so had a little walk around the ‘marine world’ section where it was located. This area was home to a lot more rides along with some aquatic animals such as sharks and sting rays. My favourite spot in this land was the seal enclosure because we arrived just in time for their feeding, so cute!
The park closed at 6pm and we managed to squeeze a lot in. Just before we left we managed to get on the park river rapids and I was shocked by how many people will sit on a ride and expose it to water. This particularly stung after only having lost my phone the day before! We finished off the day in the on-site aquarium which I felt rounded the day off quite nicely. A lot of people consider Ocean Park to be the biggest theme park in Hong Kong, perhaps even bigger than Disneyland. While I don’t believe that it’s quite as magical as Mickey’s Hong Kong home, it certainly puts up a strong competition and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking to do something a bit different in Hong Kong.
The website to Ocean Park can be found here if you would like to take a look.