Ocean Park Hong Kong is a recreation park that opened its doors in 1977 in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island. The marine-themed amusement park covers the area of Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan, and was recently ranked 7th in 'The World's Most Popular Amusement Parks' by Forbes, in that it attracted 4.38 million visitors in 2006, whilst ranking 16th in the TEA/ERA Theme Park Attendance Report 2007 with approximately 4.9 million visitors, which is higher than Hong Kong Disneyland. The larger part of the Ocean Park of Hong Kong sprawls over the Nanlang Mountain, with the rest spread across the Huang Zhu Keng Valley. Being one of the largest ocean parks in the world, it has two entrances linked to each other by a cable car, covering a combined area of 870,000 square metres.
The theme park currently has over fourteen rides and other attractions, such as aquariums. Besides housing two roller coasters, Ocean Park also features a giant panda exhibit, a jelly fish and shark aquarium, as well as a four-story aquarium displaying more than two thousand fish. The success of Ocean Park lies in the fact that it combines fun with education, but there seems to be more continued on-going construction work that will ultimately beckon more visitors to its turnstiles. The main attraction is a three-thousand-outdoor-seated theatre, which is the most famous and popular spot in the entire Ocean Park. The open-air theatre, in which dolphins and sea lions stage performances in a huge pond under the guidance of trainers, thrills the crowds with their theatrics.
Three equipment suppliers were recently invited to tender for the new loudspeaker system by consultants PCCW under the guidance of Toby Au and Mr Wong. d&b audiotechnik China ultimately proved to be the winner and ASCL were delegated with the task of installing the resultant sound system, for whom Tommy Ho was project manager. The previous sound solution sought to install the loudspeaker system at the rear of the seated area, but this was reversed by system integrator ASCL. The current loudspeakers are affixed onto the dolphin's interior resting areas to the left and right hand sides of the main expanse of water and the audience viewing area. 'We were made acutely aware that certain frequencies played at high volumes in such close proximity would upset the dolphins,' disclosed sales engineer Alex Poon. 'This was a prime consideration when drawing up the design, as was the wide dispersion characteristics of the PA system needed to cover an arced 65m seated kop. In addition, the fact that this is an outdoor area, experiencing a high incidence of rainfall, humidity and sunlight, could not be ignored.'
There are two performances staged each day at the theatre in which a band warms the audience up, before letting the aquatic actors take over with the full sound reinforcement system put to use. Two L-R fixed systems, hidden from the audiences' view by a grilled enclosure and blue paint, contain three d&b Ci4 loudspeakers and a single Ci7 cabinet, precisely angled towards the seated area they cover. Driven by eight E-PAC amplifiers racked in the control room in the upper central theatre section, the system can be monitored and configured by d&b's R1 Remote network software and R60 interface. In addition, two Ci subwoofers have been affixed into the rear under section of the roof facing out into the audience, driven by a single D12 amplifier. Outside the show times, the background music is played from the two Denon DN-C635 CD/MP3 players through eight overhead Ci80 loudspeakers facing down into the seated area from the above roof, powered by four E-PAC amplifiers. All the loudspeakers were weatherproofed and coloured to match the theme park theatre's decor. Credit must be given to the ASCL team in engineering a customised solution, which allows the loudspeakers to be easily retracted from their resting berths for periodical servicing. The Ci80 loudspeakers on the roof are housed in steel outer casings attached by an arm, allowing them to be flipped back onto the roof for inspection.
d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker systems are normally represented on the stages of Broadway and London's West End, so the German manufacturer may feel that their acceptance among the animal kingdom only serves to extend their endorsement. The ASCL team who conducted the on-site works were Paul Ho, Alan Lam, Tommy Ho, Kai Wong, Bryan Wai, Lai Pak Ho and Lai Kwok Wing.
Acknowledgement to Pro Audio Asia for the editorial content and photographs.