An Interview with Dr. Allan Zeman from Water World Ocean Park HK

Talking Water World Ocean Park HK with Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, and former Chairman of Ocean Park HK

Asia’s first all-weather, year-round waterfront water park, Water World Ocean Park Hong Kong, is celebrating its first anniversary this September. To dive into the topic of Water World’s development and history, WhiteWater was honoured to sit down with Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, and former Chairman of Ocean Park HK.

Since 2003, Dr. Zeman has spearheaded and overseen the completion of Ocean Park’s six-year, eight-phase HK$5.55 billion Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP). This plan featured multiple themed areas and a funicular train system and brought to Hong Kong Asia’s first Applause Award – the highest international accolade in the theme park industry.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of Ocean Park. We know that in 2003 when you became the Ocean Park Corporation’s Chairman and undertook the park’s redevelopment, it was your vision to make it the best in the world. After the redevelopment, the park became the highest attended amusement park in Hong Kong.

Before I became the Chairman of Ocean Park, I went to the park to review potential improvements and noticed some aspects that could be refurbished. Specifically, the pavement and paint. It urgently needed an update to retain business and attract new potential customers.

Despite the lack of upkeep, I saw potential in the park to create something great. One of the critiques I remember receiving was that the park was built on a hill instead of flat land. I never understood those opinions because one of the park’s unique features that stood out to me was how integrated guests would be in nature.

After my visit to the park, I decided I would take the job of creating the best and most unique guest experience.

What prompted you to build Water World?

You know, it was really my idea to do a water park.

As I shared before, Ocean Park is a beloved destination for the people of Hong Kong. Years before my arrival, the park used to have a Water World, albeit a smaller version that only operated for a few months of the year. However, it was well-loved by the locals until it shut down. Hearing the local’s stories reminiscing on the water park made me want to re-introduce that magic and nostalgia to them. You can tell that they loved Water World. So, when the Chief Executive Officer of HK visited Ocean Park, I told him I needed to see him for 10 minutes. I played him a video where I wore a swimming suit and a T-shirt that said Hong Kong needs Water World. I also had goggles on my eyes and a rubber pool ring around me. After I showed the video, I took the Officer to one of the swimming pools we have at Ocean Park, slid down the slide, and while standing in the water, just said Hong Kong needs a Water World.

What does the Water World mean to Hong Kong’s culture and tourism?

Water World is an extension of Ocean Park to make Hong Kong an even more fascinating city.

Hong Kong was only recognized as a financial and business center in the past. However, with the introduction of Disney World, Ocean Park, and now Water World, Hong Kong is shifting to cater to the tourism and family industry.

Our goal is to make locals happy and to attract tourists from all over the world. We want to be a part of people’s childhoods, so when they get older, they continue to visit with friends or family, and in the future, with their spouses or children. Last week, my dentist shared her experience of bringing her family to Water World, including her three kids, her father-in-law, and her parents. The whole family needs to see their grandkids having a fun time. It continues the cycle of people being connected with the park and how it has brought joy to many generations.

Ocean Park had the highest standards for its redevelopment and reaped tremendous success. Do you think those same standards have been applied in building the water park and selecting its vendors?

I know we’ve discussed so many times how to plan everything. How can we ensure that the customers enjoy their visit, be safe, and want to visit all year round? All these factors are essential for water parks. We want to guarantee we have the right people to execute our vision, and I felt very comfortable when we decided to take on WhiteWater.  

Ocean Park Water World is one of the most critical projects for WhiteWater. We are proud to be this park’s leading supplier, with 85% of the park’s attractions coming from WhiteWater. We have learned a lot from the project, primarily through the unique challenges created by the construction site and Covid. We are pleased that the park opened on a high note and is now fully operational. What is your impression of WhiteWater?

Everyone knows WhiteWater is one of the best water park manufacturers in the world. Working with them was a pleasure and felt like an effortless partnership in making a dream into reality. They were able to answer any questions I had and come up with creative solutions. I have asked some of the staff who worked directly with WhiteWater if they could give me a statement on what they think of the company. I wanted to get the opinions of the people directly involved on a day-to-day basis with them. I have nothing negative to say about Whitewater from the feedback I received. As a partner, WhiteWater was incredible and easy to work with.

That means a lot to us. Thank you so much, Allan.

It’s my pleasure. I wish WhiteWater continues to build renowned parks and brings happiness to the world. With today’s current events, the world needs water parks. Hopefully, WhiteWater will be there worldwide, building water parks, so people can have a delightful time and enjoy themselves.

Megan Mo