Share thoughts, photos, and reviews from visits to Carowinds or any other amusement park
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By Jonathan
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In March I took a trip to Southeast Asia, visiting northern Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taipei. Though I passed on such gems as Hanoi Steel Dragon, I did visit one amusement park: Ocean Park in Hong Kong. It is one of the world's most popular parks (over 7 million visitors a year) and has received the Applause Award.

Getting to the park could not be much easier. From the Admiralty MTR station a bus runs direct to the park, which is on the south side of Hong Kong Island. A new MTR line is under construction that will stop at the entrance to Ocean Park. As you can see on the map, there is something very unique about Ocean Park. The park is separated into two areas which are separated by a mountain. The park entrance is in the Waterfront section at the foot of the mountain, which is connected to The Summit by a mile-long cable car and a funicular through the mountain.

Since all of the roller coasters and major rides are at the top of the mountain, I immediately headed for the Ocean Express to get up there. The funicular is kind of a poor man's version of the Hogwart's Express at Universal Studios and I suspect that Universal may have been inspired by it. Like Hogwart's Express, the "windows" of the train are actually digital screens that simulate an underwater environment as the trains travels through the mountain.

After emerging at The Summit I made my way toward the coasters to make sure I got them out of the way first. It was March and a bit chilly so I wasn't too worried about crowds, but better safe than sorry, and I did not want to spend the entire day at the park so I could explore more of Hong Kong. Arctic Blast was my first ride in the Polar Adventure section of the park. Built in 2012, it's the most scenic Mack powered coaster you'll ever find. It's a fun family-oriented ride and the train makes two laps around the circuit.

Next door on 'Thrill Mountain' is the park's signature ride, Hair Raiser, a B&M floorless built in 2011. It easily takes the award for most scenic B&M ever. It's a fairly compact coaster with four inversions that starts with a climb up the side of the mountain. It's one of the more fun floorless coasters I've been on, in large part due to its setting, and there is also a great airtime hill early on in the ride.

Next I needed to get down to Adventure Land for Wild West Mine Train, which rivals Hair Raiser for its setting. The ride is a fairly large Zamperla mine train that runs a little rough but nothing too bad. It's all about the incredible views and there is a weird helix as well. Getting to the coaster involves a lot of escalator rides.

A lunch break was needed and Ocean Park has a few good restaurants serving food that is a few notches about the standard park fair. The Terrace Cafe seemed like an obvious choice for views and it was the first time I had braised veal shank at an amusement park.

I was not exactly in a hurry to get to the final coaster, but it had to be done. The Dragon is an Arrow looper from 1984, and while it is quite nice to look at, as you might expect it is not very fun to ride. Once was plenty.

Ocean Park is about a lot more than roller coasters, of course. In fact, the coasters are not really that special other than their settings. Hair Raiser was the only ride I did more than once and even that is a fairly typical B&M floorless. I would really love to see the park build a top tier coaster. Much of the time for guests is spent at the many animal exhibits and shows as Ocean Park is a combination zoo and amusement park. It boasts the world's largest aquarium dome. There are also a number of functioning laboratories and observatories, and Ocean Park has a large conservation foundation.

I ended my day by taking the cable car down the mountain. It offers some breathtaking views. This was definitely one of the most beautiful and scenic parks I have ever visited. I would recommend it even to people who don't really care for amusement parks simply for its location. It feels so remote, yet is just minutes away from one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Now that the park has started focusing more on rides, I can only imagine what they might build in the future using their unique terrain.

If you'd like to check out the rest of my photos from Ocean Park or the other places I visited, here they are:

Ocean Park

Hanoi
Ha Long Bay
Hong Kong
Taipei

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