Ocean Park will be scrapping its controversial dolphin and sea lion shows as part of a major revamp of the theme park, officials and park administrators revealed today.
The announcement comes after the government unveiled a HK$10.6 billion (US$1.36 billion) plan to revive the ailing theme park, which has seen a drop in visitor numbers in recent years (not to mention a recent vicious outbreak of koi herpes).
Speaking to reporters at a press conference this afternoon, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau and senior members of Ocean Park’s management revealed that the park will undergo a revamp into an adventure-themed resort that will focus on nature and conservation.
Ocean Park says it will need a HK$10.64 billion injection that will also see the dolphin show scrapped. The theme park hopes to evolve into an adventure-themed resort destination that will come into seven experimental zones when projects complete in 2027
— Timmy Sung (@timmysung) January 13, 2020
The expansion plan will see the park create seven themed zones and 20 new attractions over the next seven years, and upgrade and rework 10 existing popular attractions, while others will be demolished. Work on the revamp will officially begin in 2023, with old attractions being retired in phases, Ocean Park chairman Leo Kung said.
One of the attractions to be taken down is the park’s Ocean Theatre — which hosts daily dolphin and sea lion shows — as part of the park’s plan to move away from animal shows and focus on exhibits on environmental protection and marine conservation and education.
“Regarding the dolphins, Ocean Park’s board constantly reviews our conservation policies based on research findings,” Kung said. “At one recent board meeting, it was decided that we no longer require the Ocean Theatre as the base for a venue, and we are going to stop the program on the dolphins at Ocean Theatre after the completion of the SRP.”
Kung was referring to the Strategic Repositioning Plan for the park, which will be discussed at a Legislative Council meeting on Jan. 20.
Kung added that after the Ocean Theatre shuts down, the dolphins will be “transported into another area,” although he didn’t state where that would be.
The announcement comes after the release of the park’s annual report for the financial year ending June 30, which disclosed that the park has been in the red for four years running.
Ocean Park first opened in 1977 and is one of the SAR’s two flagship theme parks, the other one being the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort in Lantau.