Of all the attractions and activities available in Hong Kong, I would argue that Ocean Park is probably your most solid bet for a fun day that engages the WHOLE family (mamas, if you’ve ever been on the Hair Raiser ride, you’ll agree this theme park isn’t just for the kiddos!). Of course, that’s assuming you can escape the crowds… we were lucky enough to hit upon one of these relatively quiet days at the park on a recent Saturday as we popped in to check out the new Shark Mystique exhibit. With a 2,200-tonne capacity, this is one of Asia’s largest shark exhibits and a definite reason for planning an end-of-summer trip to the park – it has enough wow factor to impress the whole family, from tots to teens!
Ocean Park is already an animal-lover’s paradise with their spectacular dolphin show, aquarium and penguin exhibit, but we have to say this new shark exhibit seals the deal. The entrance is marked by a row of fishing houses and a giant set of shark jaws (perfect photo op, mamas!) that set the ‘ocean ambience’. Passing through the jaws and down a few flights of stairs, you enter a fascinating underwater world, where you have the chance to get up close and personal with more than 100 different sharks and rays.
Children are sure to be awe-struck by the sheer amount of sharks and various underwater creatures swimming all around them, but let me just say it’s a gripping experience for adults as well! The Ocean Park team has done a fantastic job designing the exhibit so it actual feels like you’re swimming with the sharks so to speak vs. viewing them behind a very thick panel of glass. The whole time I couldn’t stop thinking, “How do they manage to get the glass that clear?” and also, “Gosh, I hope it doesn’t break…”. (I’m happy to report we avoided reenacting the first scene of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and made it out safe and sound with all our limbs in tact!)
The shark exhibit features a 360-degree panorama spiraling down three levels, where you can view countless different species, including the ragged tooth shark, the sawfish, the zebra shark, whale shark and the blacktip reef shark, to name a few! There are extensive educational panels along the way for learning all about marine diversity (make a fun game out of it, mamas, and have the little ones pick out different species after they’ve read up on them!) as well as interactive displays, including a giant transparent touch screen and 3D-model display of a shark’s anatomy. I loved the fact that the journey took us to different levels, allowing visitors to view the sharks from all different angles – above, below and front-on (yikes!)
I was fully impressed not only by the shark tanks, but also how the whole exhibit aimed to promote marine biology education and conservation. I found the information panels extremely interesting (a rare occurrence for my short attention span!), and would definitely recommend this as an educational family field trip where kids can learn the importance of saving endangered species. At the end of the exhibit, you have the opportunity to pose for a picture and pledge not to eat shark fin – part of the “I’m FINished with FINs” campaign.
In fact, the entire park is supporting conservation efforts this summer by promoting sustainable seafood sources at all the F&B outlets, including a special set menu at Neptune’s Restaurant and Tuxedos Restaurant ($328+10%) where guests can enjoy a host of seafood delights while soaking in a view of the Grand Aquarium’s main tank hosting over 5,000 fish – a definite must-try if you’re feeling famished after the shark encounter, mamas!
So if you’re looking to plan a last summer huzzah! before it’s back to school, definitely consider booking out a weekday to pop over to Ocean Park for a fun-filled day of scares and surprises at Shark Mystique, followed by a sustainable seafood feast. It’s guaranteed jaw–dropping fun for the fam!