The beautiful Ocean Park in Hong Kong has suffered great financial distress due to increased losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hong Kong government has decided to give the struggling theme park $361 million (HK$2.8 billion) to try and fix the situation before it gets even further out of hand. The catch? Ocean Park will no longer be just a theme park.
Ocean Park plans to transform itself from a mere theme park to a larger travel destination and marine conservation hub with a new business model that will hopefully be able to sustain itself better. The government will provide $251 million (HK$1.67 billion) in working capital and $144 million (HK$5.4 billion) to run various conservation programs for four years.
The 44-year-old park has been operating at a loss even before the pandemic stared. Ocean Park is a not-for-profit organization, and the past four years have presented many difficulties. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced the park’s capacity during 2020 to only one third, further challenging the park to figure out a way to climb out of the red. It seems that they have finally found an answer.
“[The park is to be] a destination, a resort. It will no longer be just a theme park about rides and pandas,” said park chairman Lau Ming-wai.
And quite the destination it will be. Ocean Park plans to turn it’s facilities into an adventure-themed resort as well as a place for education. When visitors enter the park, they will gain access to seven themed zones: Ocean Square, Azure Bay, Discovery Grove, Pacific Point, Adventure Valley, Explorers Wharf and Ocean’s Edge. There will be immersive and educational experiences in each land, as well as well-themed rides and attractions. There is also a new education center in the works, furthering the idea of learning in the park.
There will be quite a few changes as the park enters this new era of “edutainment.” Ocean Park plans to remove various rides and replace them with temporary rides until they can install something more permanent. The park will also discontinue annual passes in favor of a pay-as-you-go model. This will hopefully attract visitors who want to visit the park but may only be able to pay for a couple of rides and attractions.
The tourist destination plans to open a venue for concerts and performances within the next few years. It also plans to open Water World, an indoor/outdoor water park with 27 attractions, in summer 2021.
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