I’ve been to Ocean Park numerous times – and now with a toddler in tow, we go even more frequently than I used to go. Of course, it is a big park and it is full of people, so here are a few of my tips to make the visit as enjoyable as possible:
1) Only go for a few hours
Of course that is easier said than done – but if you have an annual pass (which is not too expensive, if you get the weekday one, it is as much as two single tickets to Ocean Park), you do not need to spend hours in the park. Just go for a little while, enjoy the rides or the animals and when the little one is tired, head home.
2) Go early or late
Try to beat the crowds. The park usually opens around 10am, and if you arrive before noon it is usually quieter. Or you could go late (around 4.30pm) and just do a few activities, and usually at that time it is quieter at the top (The Summit) than at the bottom (The Waterfront).
3) Bring essentials with you
Yes you can hire a stroller (for 100 HKD and with another 100 HKD as deposit) and purchase almost anything you want at the park – but the prices are steep and I find that a lot of the food my toddler would not touch. So we usually bring our own water bottles and lunch boxes with fresh fruit, vegetables and sandwiches, which is actually not allowed. But as long as you don’t bring a huge picknick basket, staff won’t say anything to you (but of course, be sensible and have your picknick somewhere quieter, not in the middle of a restaurant).
Also don’t forget to bring hats, sunglasses, sun lotion and mosquito spray for the hot summer months – and all year round a sweater is useful if you plan to visit the North and South Pole exhibits, as these are kept in chilling temperatures to keep the penguins, sea lions and snow foxes at ease.
4) Head for Whisker’s harbour & skip the main aquarium
This is the small kids world on the lower level with a carousel, jumping castle, mini frog hopper, mini train and a playground. If you go there first up it is always really quiet – on some week days it is even that quiet that some of the rides are switched on and off during the day, to conserve energy. But that’s unlikely to happen during the busy summer months.
The aquarium is closest to the entrance so tends to be where everyone goes first and is a bit disappointing for the kids as the viewing points are quite small and it can be hard for them to see. I find it is much better to take the cable car to the top (The Summit) and either go to the sea jellies section, the North and South Pole exhibits or the Pacific Ocean area with the sea lions.
Usually kids can see much more in these exhibits, and apart from the Pacific Ocean area, all the exhibits are air conditioned, so nice and cool in summer – and usually less packed than the main aquarium.
5) Check out the toddler-friendly activities on the Summit
A large section of the Summit is dedicated to rollercoasters, but unfortunately there are not many suitable for small children. There are only a few exceptions: Arctic Blast is a fairly tame rollercoaster suitable for children height 100cm and above if accompanied by an adult, the Ferris Wheel and the Raging River for ages 3 and above if accompanied by an adult.
Up on the Summit is also the Rainforest Expedition Trail, and it includes the world’s smallest monkey – the Pygmy Marmoset, a sloth, and lots of snakes, lizards, spiders and frogs including brightly coloured iguanas and an anaconda. Plus there is a section where you can squirt water guns on the people riding the Rapids below you – so this might keep your little ones occupied too.
There is also a dolphin show and a shark tank that your little one might enjoy – but usually by the time we visited the North and South Pole exhibitions, Lina is already exhausted and we take the train back down.