Safer but not scarier, Ocean Park attractions open after fatal accident
Uniformed staff guide visitors at official opening amid eerie atmosphere
Regular thrill seekers visiting Ocean Park’s Halloween-themed attractions on Thursday found the games safer but not scarier, as they saw not just the “ghosts” but also uniformed staff guiding them around amid heightened safety measures prompted by a fatal accident at the Hong Kong amusement park last month.
The park tightened safety arrangements after a 21-year-old student was fatally hit by the movable base of a coffin in a haunted house on September 16. The incident happened when the attraction was opened to corporate clients before Thursday’s formal opening.
Police sources said the victim, Cheung Chiu-kit, slid out of a coffin in an attraction called “Buried Alive” and walked around alone for two to three minutes before he entered a restricted area, where he was struck by the base of the coffin.
The sources said Cheung might have failed to notice a warning sign inside the haunted house because it was dim.
While “Buried Alive” – the only Halloween attraction with mechanical parts, remained closed, other haunted houses were open to the public on Thursday.
They will close at the end of the month.
Visitors noted on Thursday there were more uniformed staff stationed in the haunted houses to guide people, but they said the arrangement spoiled the eerie atmosphere.
Pearl Leung Shuk-man, a university student who visited the Halloween extravaganza for the fourth time, said: “In previous years, we only saw staff dressed up as ghosts inside and we had to figure our own way out. It was more fun.
“Now there are uniformed staff inside haunted houses telling you where to go next.”
The 18-year-old went with three friends who were also repeat visitors. They all agreed having more uniformed staff inside haunted houses “spoiled the mystery”. But they were generally satisfied with the attractions and games on offer.
“I’m not worried about safety. The fatal case was only an accident,” said Tang Hiu-yan, 18, standing in front of the cordoned-off accident site with her five friends, who all agreed with her.
Another guest, Angel Chung On-ki, 14, and eight friends from a secondary school in Lai King arrived at the park when it opened at 10am. She said there were fewer visitors than she expected and the waiting time to get into each attraction was “reasonable”.
An Ocean Park spokeswoman said a new round of safety checks was conducted on all Halloween-themed attractions following the fatal incident. She said staff were stationed inside the haunted houses in reflective clothing.
On the accident, she said a worker indicated to the student which way to go after he tried the “Buried Alive” coffin.
She said she could not give further details, saying investigations by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and police were under way.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok