Chimelong. Those not familiar with Chinese parks may not know the name, but the company is one of China’s premier operators of theme parks.
By Adam Sandy (right), Chief Business Development Officer at Ride Entertainment.
A transition to the big time
The Chimelong family of parks is owned by Mr. Su Zhigang. He has helped guide the growth of the properties, and Ocean Kingdom represents his visit for an attractions park with animals integrated into the guest experience.
“This park was a transition to the big time for them,” said Al Cross, Vice President at PGAV Destinations, the company who master planned the winner of the 2014 Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement in theme parks. “The client sought us out. Their idea was to bring animal concepts into the ride and show experiences. Ocean Kingdom was done in a big way – bold. During the initial phase we toured the site and hiked up the mountains, really got a feel for the area. We went over three or four park layout concepts before deciding on the final one.”
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is an example of many things done extremely well. The entrance is huge and inviting. An LED screen with a surface area of 1,608 square meters displays sea life frolicking as guests are ushered into an ocean-themed wonderland. It really is an awe-inspiring way to start the day.
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom highlights
- Parrot Coaster: A fun wing coaster from B&M, it succeeds because it uses none of the “tricks” some of the other Wing Coasters incorporate. The back seat is the best seat and some of the stand-out moments are the straight drops, a rarity on coasters like this, as well as the second half, which features an in-line roll and a tunnel. Jeff Havlik, Vice President at PGAV Destinations said, “The decision for this ride actually come fairly late into the design process, but it fits the park extreme well.”
- Beluga Show: Great training and first-class viewing area make this attraction a hit. It is what you expect from the classic sea life show, but done in a spectacular way. Six belugas work with their trainers to put on an amazing performance several times each day.
- Mt Walrus: A Mack SuperSplash, the theming is really what impresses here. It begins with a chain lift up the hill. At the top the ride reverses directions, glides backwards and then heads face-first down the finale splashdown and bunny hop. The ride is fun, but the finale occurs between two large (easily 30-meters tall) Walruses. The entire area also has the great theming of a seaport area.
- Aquarium: This aquarium holds 5 Guinness” World Records, including that of the largest aquarium tank in the world. Looking into this aquarium feels much more like you are looking at a cross-section of the ocean as opposed to an enclosure. It is truly massive. It allows park-goers of all ages to not only get up close with sea life, but see them in ways you never thought possible. In this setting the animals have a great environment to live in. Visitors just want to sit back and take it all in.
A cut above most theme parks
From the small touches to the grand gestures Chimelong’s Ocean Kingdom is certainly a cut above not just most Asian theme parks – but most theme parks. But, in addition to the world-class rides, the park also offers a tranquil area. The layout is divided into two loops, a larger section and a quiet one by the lake. Cross said, “Chimelong and Mr. Su wanted to offer a place where guests could relax and feel better during a long day. Environmental elements like this make it a little more of a Chinese experience than your standard theme park.”
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is located in Zhuhai, only two hours from the large city of Guangzhou. It is also just a short a boat ride from Hong Kong. For those in the attractions industry wanting to see a great example of a sea life park, I highly recommend a visit.