Nighttime in the Ocean's Depths
When we gathered at the entrance of Ocean Park for its 'Nighttime in the Ocean's Depths' adventure, both of my children were thrilled to be camping out at their favourite Hong Kong theme park.
However, after an initial briefing, it became clear that this sleepover was about marine environment education and not roller coaster rides.
My husband and I agreed that the best part of the evening was dinner in the restaurant overlooking the Grand Aquarium. Watching fish swim by as you eat your dinner can be quite meditative, although our children chose to over-intellectualise the act of eating seafood at the same time.
The Symbio light and sound show following the meal offered sensory stimuli, with music, fireworks, light, colour and shadow effects. Another highlight was feeding the fish after the show, and learning how the ocean water is filtered into the tanks that house the fish and then recycled back into the sea.
The actual sleepover was not as much fun. First, we didn't get to pitch our tents until after 10pm, exhausted though we were.
Then, with hard yoga mats to sleep on and the sound of teenagers chatting and cellphones ringing until the wee small hours, it took quite some time to get to sleep. The next morning, we were woken at the crack of dawn - well, 7am - to be whisked off to the Panda Cafe for breakfast.
Families who sign up for the Ocean's Depths sleepover can stay on in the theme park afterwards for no extra cost. The rest of our day was defined by the more traditional 'rides and fun' experience of the park, which made it worth it.
Participants with valid SmartFun Annual Passes, adult HK$1,242, child (aged three to 11) HK$1,062; without passes, adult HK$1,380, child (aged three to 11) HK$1,180.
Verdict: This could be a fun night away from home for teenagers or for children who are especially interested in learning about the ocean habitat. However, if you are looking for a roller coaster thrill synonymous with Ocean Park, this sleepover is not for you. For more details, go to oceanpark.com.hk