June 22, 2011
Hong Kong, China - Last week, Ocean Park in Hong Kong unveiled the grand opening of its brand new, Amazon-themed Rainforest area. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, this new 500-square-meter Amazon-themed environment features a jungle raft rapids ride, an aviary, and animal exhibit, including anacondas and capybaras. While anacondas may be well-known as some of the largest snakes, the capybaras may not be as well-known, but are actually the world’s largest rodent. The Wall Street Journal even reported that the chairman of Ocean Park, Allan Zeman, was dressed up in war paint, a headdress, and a grass skirt to commemorate the event.
This newest addition, the Rainforest, is just part of Ocean Park’s roughly $720 million redevelopment plan. With a recent boom of parks opening up in China, especially around major areas such as Hong Kong, parks are having to work to attract more visitors than their competitors, and Ocean Park is showing its intentions.
While competitor Hong Kong Disneyland has struggled to earn a profit in its six years of operation, it had a record attendance last year, and is currently in the middle of its own expansion, including Toy Story Playland set to open later this year, with Grizzly Gulch in 2012, and the haunted Mystic Point in 2013. Another competitor is a new aquarium set to open next year in Sentosa, Singapore, which will be the world’s largest saltwater aquarium with 700,000 fish, paling Ocean Park’s Aqua City aquarium and its 5,000 fish.
The park will also be opening another expansion area later this year to be called Thrill Mountain, which will feature a variety of thrill rides and attractions. The headline attraction here will be Hair Raiser, a custom-layout Floorless coaster from the Swiss duo of Bolliger & Mabillard. The ride, which is currently undergoing testing, will feature a vertical loop, dive loop, zero-g roll, immelmann, and a number of twists, turns, dips, and dives.
For 2012, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the park has planned the re-creation of an old Hong Kong street and the Polar Adventure themed area. What advantage does Ocean Park has over all of this competition? A steady 34 years of operation by the government-owned amusement park, which set its own attendance record of over 5 million visitors last year, and has earned a profit for the last seven years.