All aboard Mine Train for VR ride

Local | Stella Wong 8 Dec 2017

Hongkongers will get to experience Ocean Park's Christmas Sensation from Monday.

With the theme park undergoing a major transformation as the festive season is just around the corner, people will get to visit all the unique attractions of the Christmas Sensation, including the renowned Mine Train ride being transformed into the SAR's first virtual reality roller coaster.

Visitors will be able to don VR headsets equipped with a smartphone and enjoy the ride with a 360-degree view of the Amazon rainforest. The ride can reach speeds of up to 71 kilometers an hour, and delve into a story setting about how logging has affected the rainforest.

A video begins by showing a plethora of animals and plants, but as the train goes faster, visitors will notice that their vehicle is flying above the trees. When it plunges from the highest point, it appears to go off a cliff and straight into the sea.

A 23-year-old visitor, Honey Ho Wing-cheuk, who experienced the ride in a media preview, said it was very exciting.

"It was scary," she said. "When you take a ride on a roller coaster, you can usually look around and know when you are going to go up or fall down. But with the VR glasses, you cannot predict the movement of the train."

Ho also preferred taking the ride with VR glasses as it was more fun. "The scenery along the ride was very beautiful. There are scenes of forest, volcano and sea."

Timothy Ng Sau-kin, executive director of operations and entertainment, said the VR idea stemmed from similar roller coasters at theme parks in South Korea, Australia and Europe.

"Our VR ride is up to the best industry standard," he said. "The company we are cooperating with has launched more than 20 VR rides in different theme parks. We have also employed foreign consultants to ensure the safety of the ride's operation and design."

Park chairman Leo Kung Lin-cheng echoed Ng's sentiments, saying: "I can assure everyone that it is totally safe."

The park will also provide VR game zones as seasonal attractions. Visitors can try a boxing game station, two gun shooting stations, five bikes and an area to complete missions on hanging bridges.

Kung also said Ocean Park's admission figures have been increasing for the past few months, and expects more people to visit this Christmas, compared to last year. Meanwhile, the park will offer free night-time admission to Waterfront Plaza and Lakeside Chill from7-11pmfor 10 days, from December 23 to January 1.

Visitors can also enjoy the local Christmas market, which boasts 15 booths offering accessories and housing products produced by local designers.

To get into the festive spirit, park-goers can visit the enchanting Garden of Romance, which is adorned with lights and decorations.

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