The Honourable Mr. Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, today together with Mrs. Tsang officiated the grand opening of Aqua City, Ocean Park's brand new flagship marine-themed zone.
He was joined by Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park; Ms. Judy Chen, Chair of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK); Mr. Tiger Lin, Chairman of China Mobile; and international film star Donnie Yen and his wife in unveiling the new attraction area. Starting tomorrow, the public will for the first time have access to this theme zone where the beauty of marine life is celebrated and perfectly integrated with conservation, education and entertainment through its flagship attractions, which include one of the best aquariums in the world, a conservation story told on the world's first 360° water screen, Hong Kong's first and only fine dining destination in an aquarium setting and new themed retail space. The first 1,000 guests to visit Aqua City can be part of a giant group photograph that will be featured in a congratulatory notice to be published in the local press. Moreover, the first 100,000 guests to visit Aqua City will also receive a limited collector's edition commemorative Aqua City button.
The launch of Aqua City coincides with the opening of a brand new Main Entrance, thus presenting Hong Kong and the world a "New" Ocean Park experience and marking the second most important milestone in the Park's history, behind only its opening in 1977. Starting tomorrow, before each guest enters the Park, they will be greeted by a kiosk featuring educational displays about the importance of conserving animals and their habitats, as well as an exhibit of Asian otters.
Mr. Tsang said, "Ocean Park has provided a great deal of joy to the Hong Kong public and visitors from overseas for over 30 years. The new Aqua City, featuring cutting-edge design and state-of-the-art facilities, showcases rare fish and marine creatures in one of Asia's largest aquariums. I believe it will be loved by children and adults alike and I hope that Hong Kong's attractiveness as a tourist destination will continue to be enhanced."
Dr. Zeman said, "The opening of Aqua City represents the birth of the New Ocean Park as it gives us a new flagship aquarium and a new iconic entrance. Ocean Park has been connecting people with nature for over 34 years by showing unconditional love for the animals under its care, extending educational opportunities to the public, opening our eyes to the wonders of nature and offering world-class theme park experiences. Aqua City will enable us to set new standards in all of these areas, bolstering Ocean Park as the premier international travel destination that combines conservation advocacy with the best theme park enjoyment."
Aqua City is the clearest expression of how the New Ocean Park seamlessly integrates conservation, education and entertainment through the most immersive designs, presentations and experiential encounters. The moment guests step into Ocean Square — the Park's new single point of entry and exit — they will be greeted by whimsical designs, from large-scale installations such as the 2-metre tall sea creature sculptures to detailed marine-themed features on waste bins. Every aspect and moment spent in Aqua City elucidates Ocean Park's mission of advocating for marine conservation.
With an awe-inspiring architectural design reminiscent of a giant marine creature, the new Grand Aquarium brings to Ocean Park and Hong Kong a new iconic landmark that will soon be associated with marine conservation throughout the world. Clad with 244 trapezoid panes of glass and draped with golden fins across its surface, the egg-shaped Grand Aquarium lights up the Park at night with a cobalt-blue glow, exuding the grace and brilliance befitting the Park's new crown jewel.
Insider the Grand Aquarium, guests will encounter "from the sea floor to the sea shore" some 5,000 marine animals of over 400 species, including many that are new to the Park, such as the scalloped hammerhead shark, the manta ray, the Pacific bluefin tunas, the Japanese skipjack tuna and many more. With a new home that ranks it as the 9th largest in size among aquariums worldwide, the conservation ambassadors, both new and old, enjoy a spacious environment that allows them to freely exhibit behaviours natural to their species. Guests can experience under one roof the aquatic life of diverse ecosystems, ranging from the coral reef environment in the Reef Tunnel to the deep sea terrain in the Panoramic Ocean Gallery, a major highlight of the aquarium which features a 13-metre panoramic acrylic viewing panel, one of the largest in the world. Jewel tanks that display different rarely-seen species are also stationed along the downward journey into the oceanic abyss to showcase the animals' natural history and conservation status.
Two other highlights in the Grand Aquarium that are sure to capture the attention of guests are the Bubble Tunnel, which features the world's largest aquarium viewing dome (at a diameter of 5.5 metres), where guests can catch the mesmerizing motions of the fish as they swim across your head; and the Swirl Tank, which strikingly shows the swirling movement of a school of fish swimming in a tight formation. The galleries of the entire aquarium are decorated with realistic rock formations and dynamic interpretive panels to offer a truly immersive environment for guests to connect with the underwater world of nature. Younger guests will be particularly thrilled with the touch pool where they can experience hands-on encounters with sea cucumbers and sea stars.
International film star, Donnie Yen, officially appointed by OPCFHK today as a marine conservation ambassador, said, "As a resident of Hong Kong, I am extremely proud of the fact that a homegrown facility like Ocean Park has developed into such a successful international theme park and conservation advocate. As a parent, I cannot wait to experience with my family all the fun and educational exhibits and presentations in Aqua City."
Aqua City also most fantastically displays conservation messages in the outdoor setting of The Lagoon in front of the Grand Aquarium, where the new nighttime Symbio! Show is shown on the world's first and only 360° water screen. Set against a rousing musical score created by Oscar-wining composer, sound designer and mixer, Peter Lehman, the show teaches an important lesson about the symbiotic relationship between human beings and nature through the story of the Water Dragon and Fire Dragon. Ocean Park is extending the operation hours of the Park to ensure guests can enjoy the show under the most suitable lighting conditions.
The new aquarium represents a new chapter in Ocean Park's education programmes, which has benefited over half a million of local students over the years. Ocean Park Academy will launch six new programmes to take full advantage of the new animal ambassadors and added facilities, including three new classrooms, one of which features a private touch pool to encourage interaction with coastal animals. The investment Ocean Park has made on interpretive displays, audiovisual systems and education programmes in Aqua City amounted to nearly HK$10 million.
Ocean Park has further extended marine conservation to become an integral part of the exciting new dining and shopping experiences in Aqua City. Neptune's Restaurant not only offers diners a mesmerizing panoramic view of the underwater world, but also surrounds them with specially designed tableware like dolphin-themed napkin rings and ocean-blue stemware for a completely immersive meal. Diners can choose among many dishes newly created for Aqua City, including three varieties of Japanese offerings served in beautiful bento boxes specifically imported from Japan, as well as a number of dishes created from sustainably sourced seafood ingredients. As a leisure destination favoured by families, Ocean Park offers at Neptune's Restaurant some the most attentive services to its guests, including parking spaces for baby strollers, a children play room and an electronic paging system to alert guests when their tables are ready.
As Hong Kong's People's Park, Ocean Park will feature at Aqua City Bakery, Ocean Park's first-ever bakery, Hong Kong's world-famous pastries, such as pineapple bun and egg tart. Fans of alfresco dining will be glad to know that the Lakeside Snacks Food Cart is conveniently located at the beautiful outdoor setting of The Lagoon.
In Aqua City's 15,000 square-foot retail space, more than 20,000 themed gifts and souvenirs are offered, including numerous items bearing unique educational and conservation messages, newly introduced premium gifts and jewellery, as well as an exclusive collection created in collaboration with internationally renowned homegrown brand Chocolate Rain.
Close to two hundred members of overseas media and over 1,000 guests took part in today's launch ceremony. Also present to celebrate the momentous occasion are some of the most colourful and entertaining roving performers from Hong Kong and overseas, including the FlameOz group of fire-jugglers; the Steel Drum Band; Popping Roving's hip hop street dancers; the Silly Bag Dance Show; the Fire Juggling Stilt and a group of lion dance performers.
To ensure local and international media enjoyed access to the best digital imaging, display, and computing technologies when reporting on the launch of Aqua City, Ocean Park, in collaboration with Samsung Electronics H.K. Co. Ltd, has set up "Ocean Park Media Centre, Powered by Samsung" with state-of-the-art equipment exclusively provided for this event.
Ocean Park Aqua City is presented by China Mobile Hong Kong Company Limited, a premier provider of a wide range of communication services including mobile voice, IDD & roaming, wireless data and cross-border services. The Company is committed to substantiate its "caring" service pledge by putting customer needs at top priority and making sure the new services cater for their specific needs.
Dr. Zeman concluded, "With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, there is no better way to celebrate than with a visit to Aqua City — a place teeming with life and vitality for a most auspicious start to the Near Year. I encourage everyone to plan ahead for an exciting holiday excursion to the New Ocean Park!"
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