Ocean Park HK CEO Ivan Wong: We Are More Than a Theme Park
Hong Kong/ Nomads/ Explore

Ocean Park HK CEO Ivan Wong on Conservation Efforts and Water World

Ocean Park HK CEO Ivan Wong 2

To be honest, it’s been quite some time since we last visited Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and regretfully, we haven’t experienced their new Water World. Still, we can vividly recall the pandas, gigantic aquariums, energetic animal shows, and thrilling rides. Ocean Park Hong Kong is just one of those places where you create lasting, core memories with your family.

And while their theme park may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of this iconic HK destination, Ocean Park and Water World’s CEO Ivan Wong would like people to remember the park as first and foremost, a conservation sanctuary.

You joined Ocean Park in 2021, in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic whilst Hong Kong’s borders were still closed to the world. What was it like to take over during this time?

We did have a tough time during [the COVID-19 Pandemic] because we were forced to close. But during that time, we needed to show the public that we’re not doing nothing. We sent 400 park staff to different hiking trails and beaches to help clean up garbage and teach visitors how to behave in nature. We also helped the government pack over 200,000 anti-COVID packs.

Of course, we also thought of many ways to maintain the park’s financial sustainability during that period, which I would say was the toughest time [for our park].

Sloth and Friends Studio
Ocean Park Hong Kong

After the pandemic, we had to work on tourism recovery and how to encourage more visitors to visit. So we launched new initiatives: Water World and all sorts of different new attractions (Croco Land, Sloth and Friends Studio, Dive into Local Diversity) – most of these refocusing ourselves into Conservation & Education which is the prime objective of our park.

South Pole Spectacular
Ocean Park Hong Kong

So it’s not supposed to be a theme park?

We run the theme park really well, but it’s actually a funding source for our conservation and education efforts. Oftentimes, people do think of us as a theme park doing a lot of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) work, right? But actually, it’s the other way around. We’re a conservation education institution that did really well in the theme park business.

Animal Programme
Ocean Park Hong Kong

In fact, Ocean Park is the first facility outside of North America that is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and we’re the longest-standing AZA-accredited member. We’ve been a member for 22 years. We’ve also helped handle over 600 cetacean stranding cases in Hong Kong waters. These are just some of what we do that people don’t know.

In line with the theme park talk, what are the upcoming attractions and events that visitors can look forward to?

Halloween Fest
Ocean Park Hong Kong

We have the Summer Splash 2024 that’s this summer from July to August and our famous Halloween Fest that’s coming this October. Every time we have these events, we have something new for our visitors. This Halloween, we’ll have six new haunted houses! Aside from the events, we have the Old Hong Kong which is reminiscent of retro Hong Kong in the 70s to 80s. You’ll see a lot of movie characters and traditional Hong Kong food that you can hardly find in the neighborhood these days. We also have two new shows: Soul of the Ocean and Visions of Hong Kong.

Old Hong Kong
Ocean Park Hong Kong

Our Water World is one of the world’s best - and unlike other water parks, ours is built on a slope – embracing the mountain. So just for that scenery, it’s really worth the visit. When you slide down, you can actually see the South China Sea – similar to the views when riding the cable cars. It’s some of the best views in Hong Kong!

As of June 2024, Hong Kong was the top destination for Filipinos, with over 300,000 visiting HK since January 2024. Why do you think they love traveling to Hong Kong?

The Flash
Ocean Park Hong Kong

I mean, Hong Kong is about 2 hours away [from Manila], and hopefully, with more direct flights coming from other Philippine cities, it’ll make visiting [Hong Kong] more convenient. Aside from this short distance, I think there’s a lot to be loved in Hong Kong. For Ocean Park, we have the food, sightseeing, [and] excitement. Earlier someone told me that our rollercoaster is one of the best she’s tried in the world, and I told her that it’s more exciting when it runs at night during Halloween.

Plus, when Filipinos come to Hong Kong, they bring such a positive, cheerful vibe. When a group of Filipinos met our Filipino band, there was instant chemistry. The band suddenly played different music and everybody started dancing – it was interesting!

Could you tell us more about Ocean Park’s Conservation and Education efforts?

Red Panda
Ocean Park Hong Kong

In terms of conservation, we have a lot of ongoing programs. As you know, we rescue, breed, and release. [Release] is very important because we need them to have a way out, right? Otherwise, we’re just keeping them captive and it’s not what we want. On the other hand, we also need the animals to help us educate the people. If you don’t have the animals, people may not pay attention to learning.

Our Red Panda Encounter program surprises a lot of people because it’s really hard to ensure that they behave in a way that they can safely interact with visitors. Our Giant Pandas, we also take very good care of them. Our first two pandas passed away a few years ago, they were around 36 and 38, so in terms of human years, multiply that by three so they were both over 100 years old at that point. Now we have two pandas – Ying Ying and Le Le – we’re so fond of them.

Croco Land
Ocean Park Hong Kong

We have so much more – including Passion, the exotic crocodile we rescued – but all in all, we want people to know that we’re not just a theme park. But of course, visiting our theme parks has a deeper purpose too – for every ticket you buy, you are contributing to our conservation efforts!

Do you have a favorite attraction in Ocean Park and Water World?

I’m more of an animal person. [I visit the Red Panda] during lunch sometimes when I don’t have appointments. I would walk around and usually go to the animals. For Water World, I recommend you try the Vortex and the Daredevil Drop – you’re standing inside a capsule, and they drop you while you’re standing!

Grand Aquarium
Ocean Park Hong Kong

I went with a friend, and he rode first. I helped him take photos since he was inside the capsule. Then I waved goodbye through the glass and walked down (laugh)

That’s not fair! (laugh)

Well, I helped him take good photos!

Ocean Park Hong Kong
Ocean Park Hong Kong

Ongoing Promos

From now until June 29, 2024 – Ticket for Two (2 Adults for HK$677)

From now until Sept 30, 2024 – All Day Delight: Adult (HK$398), Child (HK$239)

Ocean FasTrack – Standard (HK$320), Pro (HK$580)

Annual Membership – Adult (HK$1,398), Child (HK$980)

Until June 30 – Water World Pre-Summer Admission: Adult (HK$280), Child (HK$196) or Post-Exam Retreat Admission: Full-Time Students (HK$168), Children from 3 to 11 (HK$168)

Summer Splash
Ocean Park Hong Kong

Regular Admission Rates for Ocean Park: Adult (HK$498), Child 3 to 11 (HK$249), JoyYou Card Holder/Elderly (HK$100)

Regular Admission Rates for Water World: Any Day (Adult HK$420, Child HK$294, JoyYou Card Holder/Elderly/PWD HK$150) or Weekday (Adult HK$340, Child HK$238, Student $288, JoyYou Card Holder/Elderly/PWD HK$150)

Location: 180 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island (Ocean Park), No. 33 Ocean Avenue, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island (Water World)

Opening Hours: 10 AM to 7:30 PM (Ocean Park), 10 AM to 7 PM (Water World)

For more information, check their website or follow them on Facebook (Ocean Park or Water World), Instagram (Ocean Park or Water World), YouTube, or Weibo.

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