Chimelong Ocean Kingdom to Open in Late 2013
Posted by Rachel S on Thursday, July 25th, 2013
If you’re looking for something cutting edge to do in the waning months of 2013, consider a visit to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. While still under construction in a remote area of China, the opening is slated for a yet-to-be-named date later this year. This water world themed extravaganza is the brain child of Su Zhigang, the chairman of Guangdong Chimelong Group and promises to be – if renderings become reality – a one-of-a kind experience. Interestingly, the Chinese corporation has outsourced design of the park to an American firm – PGAV Destinations.
The St. Louis based firm has $1 billion in projects in 2012 alone and works with an eclectic mix of world class parks and attractions including Sea World, Busch Gardens, The Biltmore Estate and Kennedy Space Center. The Chimelong Group chose the largely undeveloped Hengquin Island for the project – prior to breaking ground, this area was oyster farms and sand dunes. Ocean Kingdom is the first phase of transforming the last of the undeveloped Pearl River Delta islands into what Mr. Su describes as the “Orlando of China” which “will become the new benchmark for the theme park industry.”
The Orlando Project (as the Group has dubbed it) will include 10 theme parks, world-class hotels, golf courses, a yacht club and science center, convention center and attractions worthy of luring in 30 million visitors each year. The hilly green island, roughly 60 miles west of Hong Kong in the southern coastal Guangdong province is reminiscent of Jurassic Park’s Isla Nublar with its lush mountains and foggy skies (see pic above) and it seems here too they’ve “spared no expense.”
Similarly, many of the animal specimens to be on display at the park would cheerfully feast on park visitors à la Spielberg’s iconic film. They plan on keeping the aquatic maneaters at bay, but available for close-up viewing encased in what will be the largest aquarium window in the world. The whale shark – the world’s largest fish and a threatened species – can hungrily watch park visitors from his six million gallon tank as eagerly as they watch him (see artist rendering below).
In addition to the uber-tank featuring the whale shark, there will be penguins, polar bears, spotted dolphins and Chinese white dolphins. The white dolphin exhibit is an interesting risk since this will be the first attempt at captivity of this species. Sounds very Jurassic Park again, right? Chimelong has faced animal-rights protests over inclusion of the threatened whale shark, but has plowed forward with plans to feature up to ten of the 40 foot long colossal fish in the future.
Chimelong’s Ocean Kingdom, if it unfolds as planned, will be unlike anything in Asia. The ride plans include German engineered thrills including a MACK water coaster, a MACK Super splash and a MACK dark ride as well as a Swiss designed Bolliger & Mabillard flying coaster that will take you through a rain forest from a bird-eye view. Themed entertainment shows to complement the nine zones of the park are also in the works including stadium-style shows featuring performing marine animals.
We look forward to the park’s opening, already pushed from 2012 to late this year, and hope that its grand design will come to fruition. With 55 million international visitors clamoring to Orlando each year to enjoy theme park thrills – many of them from Asian nations – it will be interesting to see if the allure of Ocean Kingdom will slow this roll. If the thrills are worthy and no 18 hour plane ride is required, China’s Orlando doppelganger may prove a boon to both Asian vacationers and the local economy there as well!
image sources: Themeparx.com, PGAVDestinations.com