Licensing slip-up: Hong Kong water slide event finally opens after five-hour delay

Organisers underestimated time needed for licensing approval, causing visitors to be turned away from water slide in Central Harbourfront until 2pm

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 10:55pm

About 100 visitors to a giant water slide were turned away on the day of its opening with organisers blaming licensing issues for the five-hour delay.

It finally opened at 2pm yesterday, and the company responsible said disappointed visitors could exchange their tickets for later time slots.

Karen Kwok Ka-yan, project director of event organiser Dreams Salon Entertainment Culture, conceded that the company underestimated the time it needed to get approval from the government, which caused the delay yesterday morning.

“We did not have good control of the time,” she said. “It took some time to negotiate with the government’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.”

Roaming water park enterprise Slide the City, which installed the 10m-tall slide among other funfair-inspired food and game stalls on the Central Harbourfront, announced at 9am – the scheduled opening time – that ticket-holders would have to wait for further “fine-tuning” to be carried out and approval from the government’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

When asked why the delay was announced yesterday morning instead of the day before, Kwok said the team had been “very confident” at that time and had thought all the issues would be resolved by that morning.

Netizens complained that no announcement on the delay was made on social media at all until it was nearly noon.

Earlier this year, the event space was the site of a separate incident in which Canto-pop star Leon Lai-ming had to cancel one of several concerts held there due to a breach in fire safety regulations.

Slide the City visitors, who had pre-booked tickets for the morning session, said they felt disappointed by their time slot being cancelled, but were placated with the offer to return at a later time and a bottle of water each.

Spokespersons were initially unable to confirm when the six-day event would open, but later announced that visitors were welcomed from 2pm.

Some eager punters lingered while others left phone numbers with managers, hoping to get a call when the slide would be up and running.

“We had really been looking forward to this. We got a taxi here all the way from Tai Po just to be told we can’t go in; we’re very disappointed,” said Sourav Kundu, who arrived at the venue at 11am and had brought his daughter along as a treat before school starts next month.

“They say it is technical difficulties and that they will call us if or when it opens but I have concerns,” he said. He questioned if the event had passed safety rules.

A hopeful Wan Chai resident Kenneth Ho, who came with a group of 12 family members and friends, was waiting on a bench outside the venue for the event to open earlier in the day.

“I’m a little bit disappointed – my family arranged this weeks ago,” he said.

Additional reporting Nikki Sun