Whether it’s reliving your childhood with Mickey and Snoopy, reconnecting with nature, or going on the thrill ride of your life, head to these spots for a fun day out.
For the best of everything, Ocean Park is an oldie but goodie, serving Hongkongers and tourists their dose of splashtastic fun since 1977. The marine-life theme park is today a sprawling 915,000sqm wonderland featuring thrill rides, animals, shows and more. It can also get very, very crowded, so plan your trip accordingly and be there just before the gates open at 10am.
If you’re visiting with children, Ocean Park has no shortage of child-friendly rides and attractions for all ages, but adults and teens will find the place equally exciting. Major highlights include Shark Mystique, an enormous underwater shark tank with 360-degree views of over 100 sharks and rays; Giant Panda Adventure, where you get to meet Ocean Park’s resident giant pandas and coo over the smaller, cuddlier red pandas; Polar Adventure, the park’s designated arctic (read: freezing) zone featuring bobsled rides and arctic critters like spotted seals, king penguins and arctic foxes; Thrill Mountain, where the park’s infamous Hair Raiser floorless rollercoaster awaits among other heart-stopping thrill rides; and Adventure Land, home of Hong Kong’s first ever virtual reality roller coaster – the VR Mine Train, where you put on VR goggles to zip through a simulated Amazonian rainforest.
With so much to see and do here, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but as long as you approach the park strategically (and try not to visit on national holiday or weekend), you’ll be fine! If you’re into animals and marine wildlife, the first things to cross off your itinerary are the Grand Aquarium (because it’s no fun checking out colourful schools of fish over the tops of people’s heads), Amazing Asian Animals (mostly for the Giant Panda Adventure), and Adventures in Australia (for koalas and wallabies!). These attractions can get pretty busy throughout the day, so it’s best to get these out of the way.
Ocean Park has two levels: the Waterfront where the main entrance is, and the Summit level where all the fast rides are. The only way to travel between these places is by cable car or Ocean Express train; the former gives you amazing views of the South China Sea, but the wait can be pretty long in the mornings. Our suggestion: ride the train to the Summit (it’s less crowded), and only take the cable car on your way back down to the Waterfront in the afternoon, when it’s not so crowded. This way, you won’t be wasting any precious time queuing up for the cable car and can hopefully hit all the thrill rides and other Summit attractions before the cable car crowds arrive! Bonus: the Ocean Express train is disguised as a submarine, complete with flashing lights and underwater video – kids will love it.
When you’re back on the Waterfront from the cable car, be sure to stop by Old Hong Kong, an Insta-friendly model town of Hong Kong circa 1950s-1970s featuring retro shophouses and other charming fixtures of days past.
Tip: You can avoid the queues at the ticket counter by purchasing your tickets online. If you really want to save time, you can opt for the OceanFasTrack ticket for priority access to selected rides and attractions, although this will set you back at least HK$280 on top of the general ticket price.
Rides, live shows, beloved Disney characters coming to life – Disneyland is where childhood dreams come true. The park may be smaller than its other counterparts around the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the true Disneyland experience here from its seven main lands: Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A.
With enough rides to cater to visitors of all ages, the more popular ones here include Hyperspace Mountain (a Star Wars-themed rollercoaster with impressive audio-visual effects), Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars (a speeding mine train that dashes in and out of twisting caverns), and Jungle River Cruise (a guided tour of the park’s Rivers of Adventure), among many others.
Most of the rides pretty much follow that of other Disneyland parks around the world, but there are some exclusive to Hong Kong, namely Mystic Manor and Iron Man Experience. The first ever Marvel-themed ride to feature at a Disney theme park, the Iron Man Experience is a 3D motion simulator attraction featuring Tony Stark aka Iron Man as he recruits guests (that’s you!) to fight off extraterrestrial beings attacking Hong Kong. Don a pair of StarkVision Glasses and you’ll be jetting off on an aerial tour of the city – expect plenty of drops, rapid motion manoeuvres and exciting sensory effects.
Mystic Manor may be less hyped than the Iron Man Experience, but it is a must-visit for its impressive trackless Mystic Magneto-Electric Carriage ride. Scored by renowned composer Danny Elfman, each carriage glides around the manor’s labyrinthine enchanted gallery overflowing with paintings, artifacts and rarities (belonging to the fictional Lord Henry), stopping at various points as these inanimate objects come to life. It’s a spectacular ride with top-notch special effects (and even its own storyline), making it one of the park’s best.
Other than rides, it’s really the live entertainment that gives Disneyland its magical edge. ‘Festival of the Lion King’, a 30-minute musical retelling of the beloved Disney film, is a must-watch; and your Disneyland visit wouldn’t be complete without catching at least one parade – ‘Flights of Fantasy’ (a circus-themed daytime procession with acrobats and aerialists accompanying Mickey Mouse and friends) and ‘Disney Paint the Night’ (featuring parade floats, dancers and Disney characters aglow in flashing neon lights). Be sure to also catch the park’s latest nighttime entertainment, the ‘We Love Mickey Projection Show’, when the buildings along Main Street, U.S.A become the backdrop for an audio-visual presentation celebrating Mickey’s many major milestones.
Like Ocean Park, Disneyland can get very crowded, so get there just as the doors open and purchase your tickets online in advance.
Good for young kids, this small theme park on the rooftop of New Town Plaza shopping mall may not be as grand as Ocean Park and Disneyland, but it does pack maximum cuteness. You’ll see life-size figurines of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy and the rest of the main gang all around the park, which is modelled after the Peanuts comic universe.
Snoopy’s World is divided into six zones: Snoopy’s House, Peanuts Academy, Canoe Ride, Peanuts Dugout, Peanuts Boulevard, and Snoopy Wedding House (an event hall that hosts actual weddings). The main entrance takes you straight into Snoopy’s House, the roof of which features a 5.5 metre-long figure of the lovable beagle lying face-up with his pal Woodstock. Inside Snoopy’s House is a mini museum dedicated to the Peanuts characters and its creator Charles Schulz.
Besides the Canoe Ride, there aren’t any rides at Snoopy’s World – it’s mostly for photo-ops, of which there are plenty (be sure to get on the big yellow school bus at Peanuts Academy!). Meanwhile, parents can take a break by the dog bone-shaped benches while their kids play at Peanuts Dugout, a baseball-themed playground.
There’s no entry fee to Snoopy’s World, so if you’re in the Sha Tin area or shopping around New Town Plaza, take a break and spare some time for a dose of Peanuts cuteness!