Ocean Park's new haunted house may just scare the life out of you
Arthur Chan and Patsy Moy
Ocean Park says its new haunted house is so scary it will require visitors to sign a disclaimer in case they fall ill or even die of fright after visiting it.
But while the theme park admits this is just a marketing gimmick for its Halloween attraction, lawyers say a properly drafted document could in fact protect the park from potential claims if something did go awry.
Ocean Park says this is the first time it has introduced such a requirement for one of its attractions. The haunted house, dubbed H14, will open on September 14 and end after Halloween on October 31.
Veteran barrister Charles Wong Tuk-ching, who specialises in civil claims, said a disclaimer could be legally sound if it was properly drafted.
But the theme park could not provide a copy of the "disclaimer" yesterday, saying it had yet to be drafted.
Wong said it was a common practice for organisers of high-risk activities such as boxing, bungee jumps and car racing to request participants to sign a disclaimer.
But he warned organisers that they could still be liable even with a disclaimer if they were found guilty of negligence that led to injuries or death.
"There are many factors to take in account [in deciding whether an organiser is liable], such as whether there are any defects in the facilities," Wong said.
"For example, no one would expect to step into a big hole in complete darkness, or [experience] horror beyond one's imagination. There is no simple, straightforward answer to determining liability."
The organiser also had the duty to take care of certain types of people such as youngsters or people with disabilities, he said.
The 15-minute adventure of H14 will be open only to people aged at least 16. Ocean Park's former chairman Allan Zeman, who stepped down in June, still appears in the promotional footage for H14 along with popular comedian Lo Hoi-pang .
Those who do not want to be scared out of their skins but still want to have some fun, may join Asia's first Doraemon-themed Halloween Party, also organised by the theme park.
Doraemon is a Japanese cartoon character in the form of a blue and white robotic cat. It has been highly popular in Hong Kong, Taiwan and many other Asian cities for decades.