(14 March 2012, Hong Kong) True to its proud heritage as Hong Kong People’s Park, Ocean Park today unveiled Old Hong Kong, a brand new attraction that uniquely combines culture, history, iconic architecture, delicious delicacies and entertainment, offering guests a fun and educational way to make wonderful new memories while celebrating the city of yesteryear. Old Hong Kong brings to life the streetscape and spirit of Hong Kong from half a century ago by creating a friendly old street lined with “tong lau” style apartment buildings and storefronts from a bygone era and presenting a vintage tramcar, a specially preserved heritage bus, classic local delicacies and a dazzling array of nostalgic merchandise. Not only will guests be immersed in the collective memories of Hong Kong people, they will also be invigorated by the enduring spirit that continues to make Hong Kong a world-class city.
Interactive Journey Immerses Guests in Beautiful Memories
Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, said at today’s launch ceremony, “Hong Kong experienced a golden period between the 1950s and 1970s, which saw the city establish itself as an economic miracle and bastion of creativity. Old Hong Kong offers everyone a chance to immerse themselves in the communal pride of that period and the many small joys that enriched the lives of a previous generation.”
Dr. Zeman added, “Old Hong Kong is the first new attraction to open in 2012; it is the culmination of nearly 2 years of in-depth research and a meticulous design process aimed at creating “edutaining” presentations of diverse aspects of life in the old days, from clothing, food, shelter, transportation, culture to entertainment. By bringing these collective memories to life, Old Hong Kong is at once a giant history classroom and a celebration of Hong Kong People’s indefatigable gung-ho spirit.”
Themed after the streetscape and architectural styles of Hong Kong from the 1950s to the 1970s, Old Hong Kong spans nearly 40,000 square feet in an area adjacent to the cable car station in the Waterfront. Mr. Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the HKSAR, joined Dr. Allan Zeman at today’s launch ceremony, which was styled after the traditional grand opening celebration for local businesses. The Chief Executive said, “Ocean Park is widely recognized for its remarkable achievements in education and animal conservation. Now with the opening of Old Hong Kong, the Park will help young people learn about Hong Kong’s cultural history, the everyday life of an earlier generation and a wonderful bygone era. Millions of visitors to Hong Kong can also travel back in time to personally explore the Hong Kong of old.”
Other honourable guests at the launch ceremony of Old Hong Kong included Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBS, JP, Secretary for Development; Ms. Rosanna Law, Acting Commissioner for Tourism; Mr. Kevin Wong, Managing Director of Kee Wah Bakery; Mr. Tom Mehrmann, Chief Executive of Ocean Park; Mr. Matthias Li, Deputy Chief Executive of Ocean Park; and artists Mr. Wu Fung, Mr. Joe Junior, Mr. Eric Tsang, Ms. Jennifer Tse and Ms. Annie Liu. They all helped to celebrate the Hong Kong spirit embodied in Old Hong Kong before enjoying a tour of the new attraction.
Traditional Culture Presented as Hip Entertainment Promises Endless Fun
The nostalgic journey to Old Hong Kong begins with a “Dai Tat Dei”-style garlanded entrance. The design showcases traditional craftsmanship by taking reference from colourful bamboo scaffolds used in Cantonese opera performances. Other highlights in the new attraction include: a “dai pai dong” area offering over 70 classic delicacies; interactive game booths housed inside rows of apartment buildings in the now rare “tong lau” style; a manually retrofitted heritage tramcar (No. 120); a specially preserved vintage KMB bus from the 1960s; a grand cinema where most people in the old days would visit for entertainment; and a nostalgic gift shop inspired by Kee Wah Bakery’s inaugural store in Shanghai in the 1940s.
Savour Nostalgic Delights at Dai Pai Dong
Greeting guests entering Old Hong Kong is a “dai pai dong” area, which fills the air with the smells of nostalgic snacks. With more than 70 types of classic street foods available at one location, guests who cherish variety would save themselves from the hassle of crisscrossing the city. Displayed in front of the “dai pai dong” are a number of iconic objects that best represent Hong Kong from the 1950s to the 1970s: four replica rickshaws, bicycles used for rice delivery, racks for bottled soft drinks, and dried seafood. With tasty treats in hand, guests can leisurely walk down a memory lane of pre-war “tong lau” apartment buildings for more delightful blasts from the past.
Tong Lau Makes Reappearance
The ‘tong lau’ buildings featured in Old Hong Kong are based on an iconic architecture style, commonly found from the 1950s to the 1970s, which fuses eastern and western elements. Residences occupied the upper floors while businesses operated at the ground level, with signage of various dimensions hanging off the side of the buildings. Inside Old Hong Kong, guests will encounter stores that would have been commonly found in every neighbourhood, such as barbershops, rattan ware shops and grocers. These storefronts are used to house different popular booth games, including traditional pinball machines, shooting games, tossing games and more, offering guests a chance to relish in the memory of their carefree childhood days.
The Grand Cinema – Blend of Entertainment and Education
Older guests would not want to miss the Grand Cinema, a place where they can reminisce the golden days of Hong Kong cinema. Old posters displayed on the walls allow guests to look back on the colours and styles of yesteryear. Being an ardent advocate of conservation, Ocean Park has arranged a show about golden monkeys to be launched at the Grand Cinema in early April so guests can learn about this threatened species inside a classic cinema.
Colonial Era Streetscape Stirs Collective Memories
Past the Grand Cinema is an area rich in the styles of colonial era Hong Kong. For instance, guests will encounter a replica of the clock tower of the old Star Ferry Pier, installed with a clock made by the manufacturer of the original Star Ferry clock so that the iconic Star Ferry toll will enliven the city once again.
Another highlight of Old Hong Kong is tramcar No. 201, the one-and-only manually built replica tramcar based on the model used in the 1950s. Not only does it feature rattan seats and camphor wood flooring, many mechanical components are original parts taken from tramcars of that period. To make the experience of Hong Kong from half a century ago more realistic, Old Hong Kong will have on display a vintage double decker bus – one of only three in the world – specially preserved by KMB. Ocean Park has also installed an old British-style red post box and a traffic pagoda, which used to provide shelter for policemen directing the traffic.
Kee Wah Offers Nostalgic Souvenirs to Treat Friends and Family
Guests would not want to end their tour of Old Hong Kong without stopping by Kee Wah Bakery’s nostalgic gift shop – the very first in Hong Kong – where they can take home the tastes of Old Hong Kong. The shop offers four exclusive gift packs, including: Authentic Winter Melon Pastries with fillings made according to an ideal ratio of ingredients; Victoria Harbour Assorted Tea Cookies infused with the fragrances of four different teas; “Dai Tat Dei” Premium Gift Set, a collection of eight styles of classic baked goods, and “I Love HK” Assorted Snacks Suitcase, which comprises eight types of crispy snacks. Kee Wah also offers freshly baked pastries, including century-egg puffs, flaky egg tarts, barbecued pork puffs and crumbly chicken pies, to let Park guests enjoy some of Hong Kong’s signature traditional treats.
Dr. Allan Zeman concluded, “Given the strong public interest in the history and culture of Hong Kong, this latest attraction is set to become a new hotspot for locals and tourists alike. I encourage everyone to plan ahead for a visit to Old Hong Kong for an immersive, fun and inspiring experience of the city’s rich heritage.”