Ocean Park’s newest major attraction and funicular transportation system under the Park’s HK$5.55 billion Master Redevelopment Project (MRP)took its official maiden voyage inside Hong Kong’s 36th tunnel, the Ocean Express Tunnel.
The fleet was activated upon being christened by Ocean Park Chairman, Dr. Allan Zeman, and renowned “leading man”, Mr. Nick Cheung Kar-fai (???) at the Ocean Express Grand Opening Ceremony media event held today at the Park’s Waterfront Plaza.
At the media event, Dr. Zeman also made an announcement that the price adjustment on admission will take effect on 9 October, instead of 5 October, as stated previously. “This year, the Mainland authorities have extended the golden week holidays to eight days by merging it with the Mid-Autumn celebrations. This gives rise to a great opportunity to generate more tourism traffic to Hong Kong. On top of this, our local guests can also have more time to come out with their Mainland friends and families. With this, we have decided to delay the implementation of the price adjustment by three days, and to have it take effect on 9 October 2009, at the conclusion of the holiday observance period.”
Also taking part in the Grand Opening Ceremony were engineering experts: Mr. Dickson Lo, President Asia, AECOM Asia Co. Ltd. representing the lead consultant (infrastructure); Mr. Vincent Avrillon, Civil Works Operations Director representing Dragages-Bouygues Joint Venture, the contractor for site works; Mr. Peter Baumann, Marketing and Sales, Vice President of Garaventa AG representing the funicular system designer and builder; Mr. Marc Pfister, Director of Gangloff Switzerland, which made the trains; and Mr. Till Scheer, Managing Director representing Volkswagen Hong Kong, a branding partner and the attraction name sponsor.
Dr. Zeman said, “When we were planning the Master Redevelopment Project, we realised that the current capacity of our cable car systems will be inadequate for the future new Ocean Park, for which we are anticipating an annual attendance of over seven million five years into the completion (i.e. around 2017). So we explored all in-park transportation options available. I can still remember how we were called ’crazy!’ when the idea of boring through Brick Hill and putting in a funicular system inside the tunnel, was put forth. So, it really gives me great pleasure to stand here and to proudly present the Ocean Express, which is a real testament of ‘making the impossible, possible’. There are so many people we would like to thank for making this happen – our lenders who provided the funds, and all the engineers, designers, and their supporting teams. With great partnering and seamless planning and management by all our divisional teams, the 1, 300m tunnel and funicular system is ready to go after less than 30 months when the first rock was dug out! This project involved thousands of people in Hong Kong, from all levels and stages of work, enabling many to be part of the making of Hong Kong’s People’s Park.”
Dr. Zeman also announced that, as of today, Ocean Park will give the lowland and headland areas new identities. The area beyond the Main Entrance gate is now called The Waterfront (formerly “The Lowland”) The area connected to this area by both the cable car and Ocean Express is now The Summit (formerly “The Headland”) (Please refer to the fact sheet for future Waterfront and Summit attraction areas under the MRP.)
“The official opening of Ocean Express to the public today is a bona fide Ocean Park milestone. Ocean Express will not only provide a choice in transportation modes, but will totally revolutionise the dynamics of how millions of our guests will experience Ocean Park, ” Dr. Zeman added. “Now, guests can have the option of a three-minute journey on the Ocean Express, or a 12-minute scenic ride on the cable car.”
Ocean Express will go down in history as the world’s first and only themed funicular system with an immersive show and running within a theme park tunnel. It also positions Ocean Park as the world’s first and only place operating two different ropeway systems side-by-side – two aerial cable car systems and a tunnel funicular system.
Ocean Express is the second flagship project this year to open under the Park’s MRP after the launch of Amazing Asian Animals this April. From now to 2012, more new MRP attraction areas will be opened. These will include Aqua City in the Waterfront area, and The Rainforest, Thrill Mountain and Polar Adventure at the Summit.
At the Grand Opening Ceremony, Dr. Zeman also introduced a collaboration with Volkswagen Hong Kong, which will become the title sponsor for the Ocean Express attraction. “Both Ocean Park and Volkswagen are strong brands in Hong Kong, projecting an image of quality, and we are happy to work with Volkswagen in this pioneering collaborative effort, ” Dr. Zeman said.
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