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Ocean Park with kids in 2016

Ocean Park, a sealife theme park and recipient of Tripadvisor’s traveler’s choice award, ranks among my top things to do with a kid in Hong Kong.  It’s actually one of the top  theme parks in the world by attendance. Here are a few handy tips for visiting Ocean Park.

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How to get there:

The easiest method is to take the subway to Admiralty station on the blue line.  Look for the lift out of the train to deposit you near Exit B, which is the exit to Ocean Park bus 629.  This bus goes direct to Ocean Park without stops.

Ocean park will become even more accessible when the southern MTR line opens up with its very own Ocean Park stop.

When to go:

Hong Kong enjoys tropical weather that can get stifling hot and humid in the summer, but is otherwise reasonably temperate year round.  There are plenty of indoor exhibits to escape heat if necessary, and the park has broken ground for a water park set to open July 2018. The first water park in Hong Kong in 2 decades!

Ocean Park opening hours are generally 10am-6pm weekdays, 10am-7pm weekends.
Ticket cost:

Before Exit B at Admiralty station, there is an concession stand for Ocean Park discount tickets.  Tickets here at 355/adult are cheaper than at the door. Childrens’ tickets are 175, and kids under 3 are free.  For those in the area who plan on going more than twice a year, the annual pass is a good deal.  Hong Kong residents get in free on their birthday!

Is it stroller/pram friendly?

There are a few random exhibits and walkways with steps, but for the most part, taking a stroller around the park is fine.   Strollers are available for rent.

On arrival the stroller accessible line is on the very left and provides fast access.

Trying to avoid the rush?

A majority of the tour buses from the mainland arrive at 3pm, so lines become considerably longer then.

General layout of the park

There are 2 levels of the park, the summit and the ground level.  The methods of transport between levels are:
Cable Car: Stunning views of the South China sea during the descent over the park.  The 6 seater car has windows protected by bars that can be opened to let the breeze in.  Floating among the mountains and above luxury residences evokes extraordinary peace.

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Ocean Express: A simulated submarine experience in a dark train, the full ride to the top is a few short minutes.  The dark interior contrasts well with the sealife movie played on the ceiling.   The first car is stroller friendly.

Hotspots

The Grand Aquarium is one of the first sites upon entering the park you won’t miss.  Inside are massive tanks to view tropical fish, manta rays, sharks, local coral reefs, to name a few.  Kids love pressing their noses up against the pane and peering into the watery world, tiny intruders into the vast world that occupies most of the world’s surface.

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The children’s area, replete with a full children’s playground, a bounce castle, rides, carnival games, and the Panda cafe, is an easy part of the Park to spend a few hours in.

A number of shows, like Bamboo Jam!, an acrobatic show of endangered bamboo forest animals, Ocean Wonders, a marine theater show reminiscent of Sea World, and Emperors of the sky, a live bird show, add to the full schedule of events.

Special seasonal events like the Ocean Park halloween fest, where the park gets a halloween makeover, are an additional draw.  The “horror” houses are not actually very scary and are quite suitable for kids.

A full list of rides can be found here

Where can we eat?

Ground level: Among the Old Hong Kong streets (by the cable car entrance, lower ground level), there are a few street stalls with Chinese snacks.   The Panda cafe is a restaurant with kid options on the menu.

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Summit:  There are a few food courts with a mixture of Asian and western food.

Off to the side of the North Pole encounter is the Tux restaurant, a restaurant dining experience with penguins.  One side of the wall is a full penguin enclosure, where penguins dive and swim in their pool or waddle around the snow.  Meals come in the form of buckets of fish, which they are fed periodically.  The restaurant itself is chillier than the rest of the park, so a jacket may be useful.  Pricing is about 2x as expensive (or more) as the food courts scattered around the park.  The kids love it though, and it was fun for the parents too.

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Right before the cablecar entrance there is a Bayview restaurant offering southeast Asian cuisine and exquisite views of the bay.

How to navigate the park?

I’ve actually never been to another theme park with free wifi, but Ocean Park was very well connected, offering free open wifi as well as free encrypted wifi (pword: opfreeiwifi).

While on their wifi, feel free to download the Ocean Park app for a great guide to the park, including an interactive map.  This full featured app provides discount codes within the park, a scheduler to help plan the day, and virtual guided tours.

They rent strollers at for 100hkd per day (with a 100hkd deposit), but I personally prefer lightweight options that can recline for a daytime nap.

Best thing about Ocean Park was that after the visit, my toddler slept 12 hrs straight!

Questions?

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