OCT East is another of Shenzhen’s sprawling theme parks, among the mountains east of Shenzhen in the Yantian District. It is a diverse park, so there is something for everyone, from sedate and amusing 3D rides to insane looking rides that make bungee jumping look like a Sunday afternoon hair wash in the sink, and there’s an impressive roller-coaster, and a cable car to the summit of the mountain OCT-East is built around. And a sky tower ride just in case the mountain summit wasn’t high enough for you.
OCT East is about a 40 minute taxi ride from the central Futian business district, this costs about 82RMB each way. The other alternative is a bus, as the Shenzhen Metro system doesn’t reach as far east as Yantian.
The park is huge, so trying to walk through it in the summer is quite a feat. Luckily there’s a steady stream of golf-carts riding around you can hop on and off. For a 40RMB ticket, you can use the cart 4 times during that day. It’s useful when it’s just after noon and the overall temperatures are hovering around 40 degrees Celsius.
Water park and Swiss village
Near the entrance of OCT East is the water park, suitable to keep kids entertained throughout the day. Considering the current average temperature in Shenzhen is in the low thirties, and the post-typhoon humidity adds an extra 10 degrees on top of that, it makes sense to hide in there for a large chunk of the day.
After a few sets of stairs we arrive at the OCT Village, which is decked out in a quaint fairy tale style, so green creepers growing on the walls of rustic buildings. There’s a sense of calm on the outside, and yet on the inside we find a bustling Starbucks and Pizza Hut. There’s a lake still under construction next to it, as with much of Shenzhen, it’s a city that’s still growing and accumulating new buildings and features.
The rusticness of this village means it’s a regular place for couples to have their wedding photos done. These photos are stylised and carefully choreographed pictures, either taken before or after the actual wedding day. I was hot in the loosest and thinnest clothes in my armoury, I can’t imagine how it felt to be in a tuxedo or wedding dress in the same heat.
The electric bobsleigh
The first ride we tried was a two-person bobsleigh-like series of twists and curves taking us high enough to get some splendid views of the coast and the buildings around the famous Dameisha beaches of Shenzhen. Thankfully, the sleigh is electric powered, with the driver controlling the throttle, no gravity or assisted launch is needed.
Like a bobsleigh, the occupants are sitting in very close proximity, the driver’s legs are wrapped around the front passenger, so it’s a cosy ride.
The bird sanctuary
The next attraction over is an enclosed space which turns out to be a bird sanctuary. There are a few talking birds there, but they weren’t playing along today. Regularly there’s a bird show going on, this is an entertaining demonstration of trained birds. With the typical fare of repeating words, riding bicycles, lifting barbells, and walking on a rolling drum, there are some clever demonstrations going on like birds working out the answers to addition or subtraction by picking up the square with the right answer on it.
Even more clever is the money demonstration, where a bird can collect the requested bank note correctly, as well as the more amusing exchanging a small denomination bank note to a bigger one.
3D journey to the centre of the earth
A 3 minute ride on a mining cart though a series of 3D iMax style movies is cleverly done, through a combination of spinning the mining cart around the 3D scenes almost blend in seamlessly into the physical rocks. As we dig ever downwards with a nearby digger, we break through into a place where dinosaurs still roam freely and aggressively pursue us out. Then we discover a massive Mayan temple, but as ever-curious our team is, we trigger off a detonation and we don’t have much time to escape before everything around us collapses. Luckily we make it out of the tunnel just before it collapses shut. Hopefully the people on the next mining cart have better luck than us.
Cable car to the summit
There’s a steady stream of cable cars to the top of the nearby mountain. I’d like to say the views from the cable car run are impressive – and they are – but as you go ever higher, the views just get better. The cable car ride is smooth and fairly quick, with the typical lurch to a stop at either end.
The summit is breathtaking. There’s a bridge walkway to a funicular. This is a platform that’s almost hanging mid-air – like a floating shelf. So you feel like you are suspended in mid-air looking down at the tall buildings that make up Shenzhen’s eastern coastline. In the distance you can see the mountainous coastline that makes up Hong Kong, the massive Shenzhen shipyard, and a number of gigantic ships navigating their way through. From the top of a mountain all the way down to the coastline and beach, straight past the waters of the Perl River Delta, right through to the coastline mountains on the North side of Hong Kong, on a clear or even slightly misty day this view is incredible.
If you need more excitement than that, there’s a terrifying-looking ride that consists of sitting at the end of a long pole and being rotated around at not-very-gentle speeds. About half the time you are upside down, so if you like mountain top views, while in a gyroscope, being tossed around like a salad, and just being stuck at the very top for a few minutes while they change occupants on the other side of the long pole, well, if that appeals to you, then this is most certainly the ride for you.
A little more sedate is the Sky tower, which is a circular platform that twists as it elevates. It’s like Seattle’s Space Needle, except the platform rises and falls as part of the ride.
The funicular platform itself is suspended in mid-air. There’s a little warning sign that no more than 50 people at a time should be on it. Thankfully, I don’t think we were anywhere near it. Slightly disconcerting is the semi-opaque glass floor, I managed to walk along that path, gingerly. I don’t like walking on glass, so a couple of deep breaths, and it was well worth it. The views from it are stunning.
And if you like insane rides with spectacular views while upside down, try this:
OCT East is a fascinating place, something for everyone. From rides and spectacular views, to bird sanctuaries and journeys to the centre of the earth. It is definitely a family theme park, and definitely worth spending a day or two experiencing.