HK’s first VR roller coaster debuts at Ocean Park and it’s an immersive thrill with a ‘catch’

Clara Chan

The Mine Train merges virtual reality with physical reality as you rocket through a rainforest while trying to capture animal critters

Clara Chan |

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JRs Yiannie Yin (left) and Clara Chan try the VR Mine Train which takes you through a virtual rainforest.

Good news for tech fanatics and thrill seekers alike! Ocean Park has just launched the first-ever Virtual Reality (VR) roller coaster in Hong Kong. The Mine Train looks like any other stomach-churning theme park ride, but pop on a VR headset, and you’re transported into a 3D virtual world as you ride. As you can imagine, we jumped at the chance to try it out.

Virtual Reality creates a 360-degree simulated environment using computer technology. As we rode the Mine Train, we ventured through a virtual rainforest, narrowly dodged erupting volcanoes, and even dove headfirst into the ocean.

Unlike when watching a movie, VR allowed us to respond to the environment in our own way, ensuring a more personalised experience. There is a game you can play during the ride, in which you have to catch wild animals by turning your head around and tapping the button on the gears. The more animals you capture, the higher your score.

The headsets, meanwhile, were surprisingly comfortable. Staff members helped us fit them on properly before the ride. The graphics were realistic enough to make our hearts pound with both fear and excitement – the force of the ride, paired with the immersive virtual adventure, made for an intense experience.

However, while entertaining, the additional mission during the ascend took away the itching feeling that normally comes with waiting for the ride to begin. The sea view you can usually enjoy from your vantage point on the ride, as well as the anticipation before the steep drop, were sacrificed.

While the VR makes for a more hi-tech ride, you have to compromise on the original experience.

If the Mine Train isn’t enough VR for you, Ocean Park also has a VR Arcade. We tried our hand at virtual boxing, walking across a broken bridge, and riding on a flying bicycle. Users are guaranteed to be blown away by the scenery in these VR environments.

PS. For safety reasons, you have to be 13 or above to wear the VR gear. If you wear glasses, you’ll need to take them off to pop on the headset – but don’t worry; there is a focus button on the top of each set.

Lokie: made in Hong Kong

Eight-month-old Lokie, the first-ever golden snub-nosed monkey born in Hong Kong, is getting ready for his first-ever Christmas. He’ll be spending it at his home in Ocean Park with his mother Le Le and father Qi Qi.

Lokie the golden snub-nosed monkey is just hanging around.
Photo: Ocean Park

Anyone who has ever had a monkey steal food from their shopping bags knows that these animals are extremely clever – and little Lokie is no exception. He now observes and tries to imitate his parents’ behaviour, grooming himself and sitting patiently on a stand while one of the keepers measures his weight.

Lokie is now old enough to stop drinking his mother’s milk and instead eat solid foods. He loves rummaging through the pile of vegetables the monkeys are given to eat. His favourites are carrot and sweet pepper.

Naturally playful and curious, Lokie enjoys hanging onto branches and swinging around his enclosure.

Although he is still very young, he is starting to look more grown-up. His hair has changed from grey to light brown and his body weight has doubled from 1kg in June to 2kg in December.

With Lokie around, Christmas at the monkey enclosure is sure to be a fun-filled one!

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge