Red flags raised over hygiene at new water park

Finance | Maisy Mok 24 Sep 2021

An unhappy visitor to the newly opened Ocean Park's Water World at Aberdeen received a refund and more tickets for him and his family after complaining of "an operational disaster."

The 45-year-old Hong Kong-based German went to Water World with his wife and eight-year-old daughter on Wednesday, the second day of operations.

After choosing to remain anonymous as "M," he ticked off complaints starting from arrival at the gate to leaving.

Inside, he said, Water World mandated that guests must wear masks, though obviously not in pools. But there were no guidelines on masks when riding on slides.

He saw some visitors wearing masks or having their masks wrapped around their arms when going down water slides. Masks were also left on lounges, chairs and on floors.

"Water World should provide wearable mask pouches for hygiene," M said.

One male visitor on Tuesday's opening day had in fact said later that he had to change masks continually after they became wet.

Visitors have also complained about long queues at various facilities including washrooms and locker areas.

M said Water World is understaffed with only two employees seen in the locker area, and none were around to help when he had a problem with scanning the bar code to a locker.

The wristband provided by the park is not water-resistant, he added, and "my wife's wristband came apart in the water. Luckily she caught it in time."

And the Big Wave Snacks was overrun, he said. So he and his family queued for an hour for food.

His daughter, he said, was crying when queuing because she was hungry and thirsty."

Food trays were left uncollected on any flat surfaces people had spotted.

"Water World is quite in contrast to a very vigilant Ocean Park, where hygiene is taken very seriously," M said. "Same company, two completely opposite hygiene concepts."

M said Water World failed to mention on its website that private vehicles could not drop off visitors at the entrance.

Having taken an Uber, he said his driver was ordered by police to turn around as private cars are prohibited to drop off visitors. He ended up having to spend HK$24 to take a taxi to the entrance. And visitors are unable to walk to the entrance due to construction.

Despite getting more than HK$1,400 in a refund and extra tickets, M said it was unlikely he would return as he had a beef with a member of the senior management.

A spokesman for Water World said there are special traffic arrangements during the launch period and visitors should take public transport.

Reminders with tips for visiting Water World will be sent by e-mail to people booking online, he added, and managers will continue to update and to enforce anti-pandemic and other safety measures.

Ho Pak-leung, head of the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Infection, said visitors not wearing masks could lead to a greater risk of virus transmission through the air.

But he said pool water contains chlorine, which lowered the risk of any virus spreading. Ho also suggested that visitors change masks from time to time as wet masks would reduce their effectiveness in resisting viruses.

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