Photos and story by Sydney Stonner
It might seem unusual for a densely populated island like Hong Kong to devote some of its expensive land to a theme park. But it seems that Hong Kongers are quite willing to make the trade off for a bit of fun, because there are in fact two amusement parks in the city: Ocean Park and Disneyland.
Hong Kong’s Ocean Park
Ocean Park is situated in the southern district of Hong Kong Island, near Wong Chuk Hang and Aberdeen. It is a direct bus ride away from Admiralty, but is also accessible by other public bus lines and, of course, taxis. For those who are thrill-seekers, Ocean Park offers at least a few scary rides — a roller coaster that goes upside down and a ride that consists of many fast, vertical drops — and there are more tame rides as well, including a ferris wheel and swings. But, it’s safe to say the rides overall will not compare to Six Flags or Cedar Point.
Rides are not the only attraction at Ocean Park, though. The park is known for its large aquarium, as well as its live animal shows, which include dolphins, seals and birds of prey as performers. Another must-see is the panda exhibit, especially because this is the only place in Hong Kong to see pandas. The park is laid out in two sections, with a long cable car connecting the two; and that journey itself is quite enjoyable for its picturesque views of Hong Kong Island and the South China Sea.
Disneyland Hong Kong
A visit to Hong Kong’s other theme park, Disneyland, is certainly not a substitute for the full Disney World experience in Orlando, Fla. But, for children and kids at heart, the park makes for a fun day. The park is located on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, and is accessible by MTR, the metro, after a transfer from the Tung Chung line to Disney’s own special line. The Disneyland MTR is an experience itself, with mouse-shaped windows and statues of Disney characters on the train.
The park consists of four sections: Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Adventureland. Visitors who have been to other Disney parks will recognize Space Mountain, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, It’s a Small World and other staple rides around the park. Even more so than Ocean Park, however, the rides are quite tame. In addition to rides at Disneyland, there are live shows, like the Festival of the Lion King, and other entertainment, like a 3D movie called Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The park hosts a parade every day and closes each evening with a firework show. Disneyland in Hong Kong is also a resort, so visitors can stay overnight in hotels nearby.
Many visitors to Hong Kong probably come for the cultural experiences of riding the Star Ferry, eating dim sum and seeing beautiful views from The Peak. But a day at Ocean Park or Disneyland could provide an enjoyable break from the traditional tourist activities.
Author Sydney Stonner is a regular contributor to Travelated, and she is addicted to traveling. After studying journalism and music at the University of Missouri (where she studied abroad twice), she worked for a time as a newspaper reporter. Now, she is living in Hong Kong teaching English to primary school students. So far, she has visited 15 countries and hopes to visit many, many more.