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15 Jan 2020
Hong Kong's Ocean Park unveils major adventure-themed repositioning plan
By Andy Knaggs
Hong Kong's Ocean Park unveils major adventure-themed repositioning plan
Ocean Park first opened in 1977
Photo: Shutterstock
Financial assistance from the Hong Kong government is expected to help the territory's theme park, Ocean Park, to implement an ambitious new repositioning plan that will shape it into seven experiential zones, all with an overarching theme of adventure.

Ocean Park, which has a marine mammal park and amusement park with more than 80 attractions, claims its blueprint is expected to cost HK$10.64bn (US$1.37bn, €1.23bn, £1.05bn), and will see new attractions launched in phases between 2023 and 2027. The park said it "will look to the Hong Kong government to play a role" in financing the plans.

In the year 2027/2028, Ocean Park expects to attract 7.5 million visitors, generating HK$43.8bn (US$5.64bn, €5.06bn, £4.33bn) in projected economic benefits to Hong Kong in the lead up to 2030.

"This strategic repositioning plan will build on our legacy as a park that blends entertainment with education and conservation," said Leo Kung, chairman of Ocean Park. "It aims to offer guests of every age new adventure and discovery experiences like nowhere else, setting Ocean Park apart from the APAC region's increasingly competitive theme park industry."

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the plan comes in response to falling visitor numbers, perhaps caused by the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong. The newspaper quoted Leo Kung in saying that attendance fell by 30 per cent in the second half of 2019, and added that the park had suffered a cash flow deficit of US$77m (HK$598m, €69.1m, £59.2m) in the financial year as a whole.

While Ocean Park's own press release does not mention either of these statistics, it does explain more about how the park will be developed.

It will become an "adventure-themed resort destination", that is "inspired by nature and underpinned by conservation", the park said. The new design will maximise the site's topography and shorelines, delivering family-oriented, all-weather attractions, and interactive thriller rides. A new indoor education centre is also planned.

The seven new zones will be Ocean Square, Azure Bay, Discovery Grove, Pacific Point, Ocean's Edge, Adventure Valley and Explorer's Wharf. These areas will each feature a variety of rides, experiences, facilities and edutainment opportunities, including a new indoor rollercoaster (in Discovery Grove) equipped with multimedia technology to allow guests to experience the underwater world as they speed along its tracks, two self-controlled thriller coasters, and (in Adventure Valley) a car racing experience.

The existing Ocean Theatre will be converted into a new multi-purpose performance venue, and the park's marine mammals will be moved to a tailor-made exhibit in Explorer's Wharf. Dolphin shows will cease, with Kung saying: "Dolphins will continue to inspire our guests to help protect the oceans and marine ecosystems through up-close observations, educational presentations and interactive programmes themed around marine conservation."

Overall, the proposed plan would increase the number of attractions at Ocean Park by 25 per cent, to more than 100.

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