You can’t help but want to keep an eye out for China, because before you know it, they may have already trumped something that exists in the Western Hemisphere – and elsewhere – with a bigger and better version of their own. Such was the case with the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, once touted to be the largest structure of its kind in the world. But in 2012 it was surpassed by Singapore’s Marine Life Park, which in turn was beaten in 2014 with the opening of the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin, Zhuhai in China. Now they contain the largest aquarium in the world yet.
The island of Hengqin is remarkably reachable by a drive of only 15 minutes out of Macau. The layout of the entire complex is quite overwhelming in the typical modern Chinese building sense. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is host to three whole hotels, its own circus, a 5D film theater and multiple roller coasters. The combined water volume of their aquarium is a whopping 12.87 million gallons, separated into fresh and saltwater compartments. But it’s still quite a leap from the Georgia Aquarium’s 10 million gallon capacity. Really, the place can be sort of like a town in its own where not everything can be seen in a single-day visit.
It’s pretty much par for the course where the developers are concerned. The Chimelong Group is one of China’s leading tourism and amusement park operating companies. They’ve been at it since 1989, and their parks definitely have a thing about size going on; Chimelong Paradise is China’s largest theme park.
But back to their Ocean Kingdom; its 353 acres of land area could make it go toe to toe with the Magic Kingdom on Disney World. That pretty much means any visitors will have to know their way around the multitude of attractions and decide which ones to devote time to when they drop by. Like the rest of China is wont to do, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom takes a page off some other existing place – in this case Sea World – wherein the several stadiums on the grounds are themed after a representative critter from each major group of sea animals, Beluga Theater for one. The Dolphin Conservation Center has as its star the Chinese white dolphin. And the main draw of the aquarium is the world’s largest aquarium tank itself, as advertised, home to the largest fish in the world, the whale shark.
Just reading all this, you’ll agree that the Chimelong Group is aiming to turn the Ocean kingdom and its nearby attractions into the Chinese counterpart of Orlando, Florida. With 7.5 million visitors in 2015 and being ranked as the 13 th most visited theme park in the world, it’s clear many agree.
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