1. Travel
Sara Naumann

Hong Kong for Kids - Ocean Park or Disney?

By April 10, 2009

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Believe it or not, this is a topic of debate among expat moms here in China. And it's something to think about for those traveling to China with kids. I've traveled enough with my (soon-to-be) four year old that I know I can take him anywhere in the world, as long as mix my own itinerary with enough to please him. And believe me, after our first trip to Hong Kong Disney last October, he'll happily agree to a full day of Hong Kong shopping with me in exchange for another day at Disney. But lots of folks want to know what's best for kids and here's a recommendation against Ocean Park with toddlers that I thought was interesting as well as pretty hilarious. Terry Whitehead, expat mom living in Shanghai, shares her opinion:

If you are easily amused by the following, then go:

  • Taking pictures with cardboard cut outs of the "Madagascar" cast members after rushing to wait in line with other eager park attendees.
  • Having some horrid clown point a water squirt gun at you.
  • Eating only local food or hospital grade Western food (boiled fish and chemical tasting carrots) and being charged as if you were at a four star restaurant (for the fancy Western food restaurant at the park).
  • Having your 2 year old son knocked down to the cement ground, during a crowd stampede to see the dolphin show. And, then, after caring for your son (tears and all), finding out that there are no more seats to the show.
  • Settling for a tired sea lion show. Sea lion twirls and runs after a ball. Nothing magical or new and son is bored.
  • Discovering that the handout maps are not to scale, and so, your walk is now a mile longer than you thought.
  • Riding 4 jumbo long escalators to get to another part of the park. Each escalator ride is 6 long minutes with nothing of interest to a toddler on the ride or between escalators. Arriving at destination and finding nothing special but more opportunities to walk.
  • Not finding any attendants to help with directions or attractions; only attendants are at the food concessions.
  • Finally reaching the kid park and discovering that it resembles any dirty amusement park we have here. Nothing special. Rides are the same as what you would find at the zoo. Except at the zoo, you don't expect rides (so special).
  • Looking at heavy construction.
  • Building your upper arm muscles by carrying a toddler (stroller unfriendly park) and singing many renditions of itsy bitsy spider as toddler not amused by flower baskets pasted to the walls where you walk.
  • Looking at repair men fix electrical wires and wondering if the owners of Ocean Park paid their insurance premiums.
  • Looking at repair men fixing the cable car ride that you are presently on with your family and wondering how personal injury laws work in HK. Thinking about your estate planning.

I'd love to hear what other families have to say.

Photo: Fantasyland Castle at Hong Kong Disney. 2008 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.

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