Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Impression: Ocean Park

Whether I like Ocean Park or not, I can’t decide. The sheer ingenuity of the park’s architecture was amazing, but the rides and the atmosphere left something to be desired. Overall, the feeling that best sums up my reaction is “mildly impressed.”

When we first got to the park, I was arriving with the idea of a surprisingly fun park, with rides that were by no means amazing, but still fun. The reviews I had read regarded it as a surprise hit. What I did not did not remember was that the entranceway that I was seeing was their just-opened Aqua City renovation project.

That said, the entrance was amazing, modern, beautiful. The aquarium was of spectacular design, and it was just as well done. Naturally, this is where we headed first. The aquarium was interesting, of course, but definitely not a thrill seeker’s first stop at an amusement park. Before we hit the rides, though, we checked out the panda exhibit, which was honestly very cute.

Here comes my first park rant: why do they insist on making you exit through the gift shop!? In the U.S., some parks do this for their big rides, and understandably so as those are the types of attractions you might want souvenirs from. But we were actually forced to exit the panda exhibit through the gift shop. They actually had a guard standing by the exit to make sure you went through - I got yelled at for trying to escape.

Regardless, we headed to the Cable Car Station after that to ride over to the other side. The ride was definitely worth the long line, and the view was amazing. As we got nearer to the other side of the park, I managed to take a few pictures of the new Hair Raiser, where it seems that all track was in place. Before we knew it, we were back in the station after the fastest ten minutes of my life.

The first thing we did was stop for a bit of lunch at the Terrace Café, where I had spaghetti Bolognese for what was the umpteenth time during my week in Hong Kong. For some reason, every restaurant we went to in Hong Kong served spaghetti Bolognese, and a hot fudge brownie sundae for dessert. Just a cultural tidbit. Despite that, the spaghetti was the best I had had that week. It was uniquely Asian, with a bit of a tangy flavor. It was very good, overall.

After that quick lunch, we decided to head down to Mine Train. Leaving the restaurant, the park was very nice, with beautiful gardens and well-maintained paths. As we started to head down to Mine Train, we were sidetracked for a ride on Flash. The ride itself was a lot of fun, but the line was not. It wasn’t bad because of its length, but the people in it were some of the pushiest I’ve ever seen. I’m used to Cedar Point lines, which can get bad with line jumping and such, but these people barely stood three inches from you. Somehow, we managed to deal with it.

We did walk down to Mine Train after that, which was a bit secluded from the rest of the park. The ride itself was a bit underwhelming, but this was made up for by the amazing view it gave. Built on the side of a mountain, right above the water, the view was amazing. After we finished on Mine Town, we skipped the other two rides in the area and headed back up to the rest of the park.

We knew the park would close at seven, and despite all of the bad things I’d heard about it, I knew I wanted to ride Dragon. I mostly wanted the credit, but the ride didn’t turn out to be that bad. I think all of the reviews made it seem worse than it was, or maybe because of them I had low expectations? Either way, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

This area of the park was definitely the nicest area on this side of the cable car. It was busy, brightly lit, and colorful, while the area around Mine Town was more run down and empty. It was good to see that the whole park was not like that. This side of the park had a fun old-style carnival feel, with traditional rides like a ferris wheel and a swinging ship. After Dragon, we headed over to Eagle, their Condor ride.

Eagle was fun as well, and we all loved it. It was more than a bit scary to be swinging out like that on the side of the mountain though. What was a bit scarier was that we were the only ones on the ride. Regardless, it was fun. We didn’t get a chance to go on the S&S Towers, which would have been awesome for the view and the thrill. We would have ridden it, but the park was closing and we would have missed the tram back.

The train itself was well themed and fun, definitely a lot faster than the cable car. Unfortunately, the view from the cable car just couldn’t be matched by the virtual windows on this ocean-themed tram. It did get us back in time for the start of the new Symbio show, which I stupidly did not realize was new or special until I got back to the states. It was still cool to watch though, but I wish I would have known or I would have recorded it.

After the day at the park, I was pleased overall. However, Ocean Park didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had had for it. Many areas were nice, such as the new Aqua City entrance pavilion, and the area around Dragon. However, the rest of the park was more run down, a bit dingy, and not as fun. Additionally, while it’s cool that it’s built on the side of a mountain, the park layout is very difficult to navigate as a result, and trying to walk uphill in the dark on them is not a good way to end the day. Right now, the park seems like its stuck in limbo between the 80s and now, which all of their construction and renovation should hopefully fix.

Overall Impression: Pretty good, 7/10 stars.
For more pictures, visit the thread at Theme Park Review: Gci2011's Theme Park Adventures


Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm someone from HK.
I just randomly clicked into your blog entry and I'm curious what opinions have you heard about the Dragon ride? In fact, it was built long time ago and most, if not all, Hong Kongers have rode the ride before. What's worse, your head will bump into the safety bars, resulting in a headache after riding the Dragon :P

Park Impressions said...

I thought it was average at best. It wasn't quite as painful as I was expecting, but that's probably because I was expecting it to break my neck. Yes, it was rough, but I thought it wasn't awful. Most of what I'd heard is that it was one of the worst coasters on the face of the earth - just boring, rough, painful, etc. Based on that, it wasn't too bad, IMO.

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