Ocean Park Hong Kong unveils two new attractions
Hong Kong has always served as a quick international destination for Filipinos. From deliriously grand shopping jaunts to closing important business transactions, the former British colony cannot deny the presence of Filipinos penetrating its market. Reports even state that in 2008, it has embraced more than 568,000 Filipinos, either for work or pleasure. And 20 percent of them visited Ocean Park Hong Kong. Those people will probably make that journey again as the park launches two new attractions this year that are sure to spice up even the most jaded of cynics: the Amazing Asian Animals Park and the Ocean Express, both of which are firsts on their own.
Animal home redefined
The Amazing Asian Animals Park is the first of its kind to integrate an outdoor and indoor animal exhibit in a secure environment. The Giant Panda Adventure area is its main highlight, with a design philosophy of traditional Chinese architecture fused with modern technology. It boasts of lush greenery, rock walls, and an exterior made with a “large span truss system” coupled with Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) which lets the sun shine through without the inconvenience of sweltering heat. This combination of elements allows the animals to live in an environment almost similar to their natural habitat. The two resident giant pandas are going to be joined in harmony with four red pandas and other rare species such as the Chinese giant salamander, Asian small-clawed otter, and Chinese alligator. They are expected to debut around April 30.
One does not need to be a mermaid or a professional diver just to get a glimpse of the sea’s magnificent wonders. Sometimes all it takes is a simple train ride. As incredulous as it may sound, the Ocean Express will try to prove otherwise. The trains aesthetically took inspiration from Jules Verne’s 19th century submarine explorer in terms of appearances. The train stations are a mix of new technology and old-world futuristic retrospective. As the world’s first themed funicular system set to run in a theme park, the three-minute train ride is set to give an underwater experience like no other.
The train’s glass-paned parts allow riders to see various marine life combined with multimedia action happening inside the train cabin. Practicality-wise, Ocean Park Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Tom Mehrmann says that the train will also be useful as a means of transportation in exploring the Lowland and Headland sides of the entire park, especially when rain strikes and the aerial cable cars are not available for use. The Ocean Express is presumed to start operations in the fall of 2009.
These two innovations are just part of the park’s US$750 million redevelopment plan which started in 2006 and will end probably in 2011 or 2012.
In a recent press conference in Manila, Mehrmann and his team told members of the Philippine media and travel trade industry that there are still some projects to be anticipated such as new attractions, rides, and hotels in the following years to come.