Long, long before Disneyland set up shop on Lantau Island, Hong Kong had its own, homegrown theme park – Ocean Park – located on the south side of Hong Kong Island and overlooking the South China Sea.
Hong Kongers who first came as children now revisit the park with their own children, and quite a few Hong Kong kids have an annual pass so they can visit as often as they wish. It's very much a Hong Kong outing.
Four decades after first opening its gates, Ocean Park's going stronger than ever and attracting even more visitors, with programs aimed at getting them closer to the fauna who are among the park's main attractions.
It's always non-stop fun at Ocean Park in Hong Kong — Photo courtesy of Ocean Park
One of the most popular schemes lets visitors become an honorary panda keeper – taking a look at the panda enclosure from the inside, learning how to prepare the pandas' special meals and experiencing a day as one of Ocean Park’s
Or there's a chance to explore the mysterious nighttime world of the sea bed with a special camping program, getting inside the facilities and witnessing the feeding times of sea creatures at the Grand Aquarium.
Even more up close and personal is the Grand Aquarium scuba dive, an unforgettable journey that brings visitors face to face with unique fish like manta rays, hammerhead sharks, tunas and Napoleon wrasse. (Obviously, this one's for qualified divers only.)
Everyone loves Ocean Park's sea lions, and now there's an opportunity to take comic snapshots with the sea lion stars after their show at Whiskers Theatre!
Alternatively, a behind-the-scenes tour lets visitors listen to the koala and wallabies' keepers talk about their work on the daily care of Australia's cutest animals.
Equally fascinating, the penguin encounter teaches visitors about about the life journey of penguins, allowing them to meet the king, southern rockhopper and gentoo penguins and to learn how to distinguish them.
And the dolphin encounter is just as thrilling, as visitors actually get nose to nose with some of the world's most beautiful animals.
There's also a sea lion feeding program, and a similar scheme for sharks and rays.
A charge is levied for all the programs, which take place at set times throughout the week.
Ocean Park, already easy to get to aboard dedicated buses running from Central, has become even more accessible since a new MTR line opened on the south side of Hong Kong Island in late 2016, with a dedicated stop for this favorite Hong Kong theme park.