5 reasons why Hong Kong Ocean Park is better than Disneyland
We continue on our Theme-Park Odyssey…and give you 5 good reasons to choose Ocean Park over Hong Kong Disneyland!
If you’re holidaying in Hong Kong and think that Hong Kong Disney is the only family fun park worth visiting, you couldn’t be more wrong!
Hong Kong Ocean Park is one of the most astounding family theme parks we’ve ever visited, and whist Hong Kong Disneyland is great fun, our family are agreed that Ocean Park is the one to choose if you only have one day for ride-park family fun in Hong Kong.
A cross between a theme park and marine park zoo, Ocean Park has a lot to offer families, and is a popular attraction for both Chinese and international tourists alike for one very good reason – it’s absolutely unique!
Here are our five reasons why you should choose Ocean Park over Hong Kong Disneyland….
1. Ocean Park is big – really big
Ocean Park is built over a mountain on Hong Kong Island. Disneyland on the other hand, whilst still big, is built on the flat lands of Lantau Island and is nowhere near as striking as the Ocean Park site.
With it’s logo literally cut into the side of the mountain, Ocean Park has two main areas filled with animal exhibits, rides and attractions spread all over the entrance-level grounds PLUS a whole stack more when you catch a cable car or train to the mountain top summit.
Just remember to give yourself a full day at Ocean Park at the very least, because whilst Disneyland can be covered in a day, you really can’t conquer Ocean Park in such a short time – but you will have fun trying!
2. Ocean Park’s cable car is the best ride in town
One thing about Hong Kong – they know how to build cable cars, and Ocean Park has an amazing one.
A very popular ride in it’s own right (you are usually looking at around an hour queuing time), the Ocean Park cable car takes you on a steep climb up the mountain, and then traverses the side of it for some incredibly expansive ocean views, unimpeded thanks to your glass and open-bars gondola.
Roughly ten minutes later you are deposited at the other end of the theme park, “The Summit”, which is built on the other side of the mountain.
For something different you can catch the “underwater”-themed train back when it’s time to go home, but you’d be forgiven for forgoing the train altogether to seek out another ride on this gondola – it’s just so beautiful.
Whilst not strictly a theme park thrill ride, this was my favourite ride of all of the Hong Kong theme parks.
Quick tip – avoid being at the far top end of the park at closing time or long waits for the cable car or train will result – the crowds in the train queues can get pushy, which is not ideal with young kids!
3. Ocean Park has an remarkable mountain summit restaurant
The Ocean Park cafeteria has absolutely stunning views across the ocean and islands far below.
A bit like eating in the clouds, the Ocean Park cafeteria offers a mixed buffet of Asian and European foods (just in case your kids are going through hot-chips withdrawals). My tip is try for an early lunch, as this restaurant does, understandably, get quite crowded – particularly on weekends and holidays.
You’ll find this slightly-more-expensive-than-usual casual restaurant at the top exit of the Ocean Park gondola ride.
4. Ocean Park has several outstanding thrill rides
There’s many great rides at Ocean Park, however a couple struck us as out of the ordinary – “The Rapids” was a rollicking ride down a wild river, and whilst there’s a few of these around, this one succeeded in completely soaking all three of us (for which we were actually very grateful, given that during our visit Hong Kong was very hot and humid!).
Another ride of note was “Raging River” – the biggest flume ride drop we’ve experienced to date – it takes you for a gentle cruise, lulling you along, down it’s peaceful canal, before throwing you off the cliff of hell…well, perhaps I’m exaggerating just a little there, but the ending chute is so sudden, long and steep it will scare the living daylights out of you! You actually do view the drop at the end of the ride just before board it, but by then you’ve spent so much time waiting in line that you’re basically obliged to ride it. Therefore, there’s absolutely no plausible excuses afterwards such as, “Oh, I had no idea of what we were in for or I never would have gone on it!”.
Just a mindful tip though – if you have younger children like I do and they absolutely insist that they want to go on it like mine always do, be sure to seat them behind you – or prepare to suffer the-wrath-of-the-angry-eight-year-old (who told me off in no uncertain terms for a solid minute after we got off).
Seriously though, go on this ride for a theme park thrill that is hard to beat – Hong Kong Disney’s version doesn’t hold a candle to this one.
5. Ocean Park has Giant Pandas
That’s right. Real – live – Pandas. Those absolute adorable, black-and-white, rare and…okay, well, in this case, monumentally bored Giant Pandas. Pacing back and forth away from the ogling crowds right up at the back of the enclosure, a lone Giant Panda was intent on getting back into what we presumed to be his den.
So if you’re not travelling over to China whilst you’re in Hong Kong, and you would like to see a Panda in the flesh, Ocean Park is a very convenient, if completely unnatural, option. In its defence, Beiijing Zoo’s Panda area is not much better.
To do Giant Panda’s some justice, try to get out to see them in their more natural surrounds on the mainland if you can.
Ocean Park is a brilliant world-class theme park – well worth a visit, even if you’re only stopping in Hong Kong for a few days. Make sure you arrive at opening time, prepare for long-waits for the popular rides, and if you’re up at the top end of the park at closing time, plan for a long delay when trying to exit, due to the crowds of fun-lovers all being kicked out at the same time.
That said, it’s all well-worth it. If you and your kids love animals and fun park rides, Ocean Park is a must-see on your Hong Kong family fun list!