Welcome to Ocean Park: Part 1 of our look at their history

Welcome to Ocean Park: Part 1 of our look at their history

On a small parcel of land on south Hong Kong Island the Hong Kong Jockey Club founded a marine park: Ocean Park. Founded in 1884, the Hong Kong Jockey Club holds a monopoly on Horse Racing bets, lottery and fixed betting on overseas Football (Soccer) games. Their various offices around Hong Kong are always a hot spot of activity and what is interesting is their status: they are a not for profit organisation which donates to and support countless activities around Hong Kong.

So in 1977, after the Hong Kong Jockey Club invested 150 million HKD and the government donated the land, Ocean Park opened. At first, it consisted only of the area surrounding what is Old Hong Kong today, the Cable Car and the top of the Summit.  The area around the entrance was called The Lowlands and was renamed to The Waterfront during the course of the MRP.

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Ocean Park provided this picture of the park original main entrance.

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Ocean Park provided us with this picture of the original Cable Car station. Located in the Lowlands area, this is where guests would start their long journey toward the Summit.

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Climbing the initial ascent after leaving the Lowlands station.

 

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Looking back toward the Lowlands area. For high capacity, two separate Cable Cars were installed.  It was a great move as one could be taken offline for maintenance and on busy days, it could move a lot of guests.

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An example of the spectacular view while riding the Cable Car.

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In the middle of the journey, you cross this valley.  The Summit can be seen in the distance.  As this was shot in 2010, you can see the cranes working on the three new areas.

The park Summit section was initially composed of the Cable Car station, the Dolphin Stadium and the Atoll Reef, a large aquarium. Placing the large aquarium and stadium there was brilliant as it enticed visitors to ride the Cable Car, enjoy the spectacular view of the mile long journey and then visit the park premier attractions.

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Ocean Park original Dolphin Stadium. This picture appears courtesy of Ocean Park and compare with the following, shot in 2010:

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Dolphin Stadium in 2010.

The park was a modest success at first and it continued in 1982.  The Jockey Club invested a further 240 million HKD to develop an area near Tai Shue Wan Bay and build thrill rides at the Summit. Four of those rides were in the “Headlands Rides” area and two near the new entrance, called Adventure Land.  The resulting expansion opened in 1984.

To link the Tai Shue Wan expansion area to the existing area, the world’s longest set of escalators at the time was constructed.

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One of the many escalator, shot at night in 2015.

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We discovered this mid 1990’s picture of the Escalators online.

An animal component opened in the Lowlands (main park entrance area) in 1983-1984: the Goldfish Pagoda.  The Goldfish Pagoda was created by an aquarist named Johnny Chin, a known Goldfish collector at the time.  His goal was to create a true Chinese exhibit for the park; to that end carefully selected the Goldfish species and then created a beautiful pagoda with red tones and details.  For many foreign tourists to Hong Kong, it was their time seeing that type of pagoda and so many colors of Goldfish.  We invite our readers to read this great account of Goldfish Pagoda at this page as they provided the following 5 pictures: http://vermilliongoldfishclub.com/diary/goldfish-pagoda.html

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The original entrance.

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One of the beautiful trash can around the Pagoda.

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One of the corridor inside.

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What was very imaginative is that the actual tanks were invisible.  They were built inside the wall and looked like Art hanging on the wall.

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Two of the Pagoda residents, rare Blue and Brown Pompons.

Arrow-Huss was contracted to build those six new rides during that expansion:

Space Wheel was a Huss Enterprise ride located near the Tai Shue Wan entrance. It was removed in 2015 and the space it occupied became a space for special events.  Its first use was for a Halloween attraction that occupied its foot print in September-October 2015.

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Space Wheel in 2010.

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We discovered on a now lost Geocities page this rare shot of Space Wheel in the mid 1990’s.  We are sorry the picture is not bigger.

Raging River is a classic Arrow log flume with two tunnels and good rapid action provide plenty of excitement without soaking riders. Due to space constraints on the hill side, Arrow went with a double station configuration and a single lift at the start layout with one big drop at the end.  The original boats were the futuristic bright colored style seen on the Jet Stream at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA) notably.

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From the same Geocities page as the previous picture, we found this rare picture of the original pre renovation Raging River.

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Raging River sports a Canadian theme with this Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) hat.

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During a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA), we shot this picture of the Jet Stream, their Arrow Development Log Flume.  The reason it is significant here is that the original Raging River boats were the same model, looking like modern Kayak boats.

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The Coaster Guy is currently the best ressource about Six Flags Magic Mountain and they were kind enough to provide us with 4 extra pictures of Jet Stream.  In this picture, the boat just completed the drop.  http://www.thecoasterguy.com/

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In this other picture from The Coaster Guy, you can see the distinctive shape of the boats.

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The metal strip at the bottom is used for the Anti Rollbacks on the lift hill.  In this picture, maintenance was in the process of removing the boat from the ride for work in the shop.  The water coming out from the back comes out from a drain that only works when the boat is tilted nose up.  This is to only empty water on the lift hill and to prevent the boat from sinking.  This great shot is again from The Coaster Guy.

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Jet Stream features a boat storage area right after the Loading Station.  As the ride was closed when The Coaster Guy shot this picture, you can see the huge fleet of colored boats.  We know that Raging River featured red boats, but it could have been possible they also had boats with various colors.

 

Raging River was closed most of 2001 for an extensive renovation and reopened in early 2002.  During those renovations, Interlink supplied a new fleet of boats.  The ride is located just above the Tai Shue Wan entrance.

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One of the new Interlink log.

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In this great shot from Flex, you can see two Interlink logs climbing the lift hill.

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Part of the Raging River course.

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The lift hill at night.  As you can see, lighting is very minimal and it is a spectacular experience as you can barely see where you are going.

 

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The drop on Raging River.  It is built right on the mountain side.

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One of the boat at the bottom in the middle of splashing.

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The splash during the day in this photo by Flex.

Crazy Galleon is a Huss Pirate with a beautiful cliff side location in the Headlands area.  It is sandwiched between the Dragon Sidewinder and the cliff.

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The Geocities page provided us with this picture of the Crazy Galleon.

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Flying Galleon at night.  It features a spectacular light package.

A Huss Swing-Around was placed to the left of the Dragon station.  Very little evidence of this ride still exists today, but we have been able to confirm its existence with an old park map and its location.  The year of removal was 1996.

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This is the Huss Swingaround at Calaway Park (Calgary, Alberta, Canada).  We use this picture to illustrate the identical ride at Ocean Park.

A Huss Troika called the Octopus was placed to the right of the Café Ocean.

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From the Geocities page, we discovered this picture of the Octopus.

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http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us this great picture of the Huss Troika at Kings Island (Mason, OH).

The Dragon was Hong Kong first modern roller coaster and a large two lifts looping roller coaster. The two lifts configuration is rather unique for a looping roller coaster and is only shared by the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia, USA). The ride features 3 inversions: two loops and the world’s first “Sidewinder” (Half loop-half corkscrew). The ride was originally all white, then white to a light blue support/white track color combination.  In the early 2000’s, the colors were inverted to blue track and white supports and it was repainted in the mid 2000’s to the current colors. Throughout the years, the trains were also modified with taller headrests and shoulder restraints with more padding and leather covering added to improve guest comfort.

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The Dragon in the 1990’s with its original Arrow restraints.

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The loading station.  This was shot by Flex.  Notice the modify restraints on the train on the right.

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The leather coverings were added in late 2014-2015.

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A sideview of the front car.

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The train after the first lift hill.  You can see the unique station on the right and the transfer track on the left.  The yellow track steeply dropping take the train down to the bottom floor of the station, where the maintenance shop is.  This was a unique Arrow Development feature on some of their rides.

The two lift layout allowed the ride to fit on its compact spot, as the ride does not have a single large drop like most roller coasters. Instead, the ride just gradually goes downhill through the inversions until it reaches the bottom after two helixes. Pneumatic trim brakes slow the train down as it rises into a left hand turn that leads to the second lift hill. The second lift hill purpose is to bring the train back to the loading station level and the ride final segment consists of a single right hand turn and then the ride final brakes. The train is stopped there, goes around a left hand curve and this is where the ride transfer track is. Originally, it ran two trains often, but now, given the fact that Hair Raiser has taken its spot as Hong Kong premier thrill ride, one train is more than enough most of the time.

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The top of the first lift hill and the curve after.

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The first Vertical Loop in this picture by Flex.

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The second Vertical Loop and Sidewinder.

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The first post Sidewinder spiral.

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The ride second lift hill.

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The Dragon at night.

The ride has received a lot of care from the park talented maintenance team. In 2010, after the dramatic repainting, the ride track spacing was worked on to remove some of the more uncomfortable side to side movement. This lead to some days where the ride would open in the afternoon as the park was open late and the crowds came at night.

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Maintenance working on the track in 2010.

The last part of the 1984 expansion was a water park, located to the right of the park main entrance. Known as Water World, this park was a pure representation of what early visions of a water park was: concentrate on slides with few pools to absorb the crowds. It also suffered from a short 100 days operating season similar to what you see in North America and given its prominent location near the front of the park, it gave the park a bad image: 260 or so odd days of the year, guests had to walk past a shuttered park on the way to the park.

Later, we will detail later the circumstances that surrounded its 1999 closing and the subsequent years after. Today, you can find Aqua City, the current entrance and the Grand Aquarium where it was located.