Call for improved safety at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park after fatal haunted house accident

Visitors want to see more staff on call in attractions to avoid more incidents at amusement park, ahead of Halloween Fest next month

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 September, 2017, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 September, 2017, 9:21am

Ocean Park visitors have called on the Hong Kong amusement park to ensure all of its haunted houses are safe to use before they are officially opened to the public next month, after a fatal accident on Saturday.

They made the remarks after a 21-year-old man died inside the Buried Alive attraction, part of the Halloween Fest that will be officially opened from October 5. The man ventured “by mistake” into a backstage area open only to staff after he had used a slide inside the attraction, the park said earlier.

A probe by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department found that the man was hit by “moving parts of the slide” in the area. The slide measured 4.5 metres long and 2.5 metres high. It has been approved by the department after a comprehensive examination by independent inspectors. The department believed the incident did not involve mechanical failure.

While the haunted houses would only officially open to the public next month, they were open to invited corporate guests on Saturday and Sunday. Some guests said the fatal incident would not deter them from visiting the Halloween attractions but hoped the park would improve its safety measures.

“It was completely dark inside and I had to walk my way slowly out. I was touching the wall all the way for direction. The walls on both sides were covered in soft stuff so it would not be dangerous if I bump into the walls,” said 35-year-old Roy Chan, after playing in the Dark Maze Halloween attraction on Sunday.

“My only concern was that there could be a stampede if many people are allowed inside at once and if some of them fall. But that did not happen and it was safe.”

For the attraction that saw the death of the young man on Saturday, Chan said the staff could have placed signs at the off-limit areas telling guests not to pass through.

“The park could also have put some staff in ghost costumes and asked them to stay at the off-limit areas. The staff could entertain the guests on one hand and the guests would know they are not supposed to pass through those areas.”

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Chan said he had visited the park’s Halloween Fest many times and always felt safe.

Other guests also said that the park could just use signs to tell guests not to pass through certain off-limits areas.

“I don’t expect park staff to accompany me all the way inside the attraction. But the park could just put up signs to block the routes leading to the areas where we are not supposed to enter,” said 22-year-old Emily Lam.

Another 22-year-old guest, Calcio Cheung, said the park would be killing the fun if too many staff were there to assist guests.

“I will still be playing in the haunted houses even though I am a bit scared getting in,” he said.

A 14-year-old guest said she hoped there are enough illuminated signs showing the route from the start to finish so no one would get lost. Guests who are too scared to finish the whole attraction should be allowed to exit halfway through, she added.

Several police officers entered the Buried Alive attraction on Sunday afternoon to continue with their investigation. The attraction has been closed since the incident.

The death marked the first fatal accident at the Halloween Fest since it was introduced in 2001.

Ocean Park said on Sunday that its staff conduct safety checks on all haunted houses every morning before they are opened to guests.

A government source said the park obtained the Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence for its haunted houses on Thursday September 14.