Hong Kong entrepreneur Deacon Chiu had always wanted to bring Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park back to life.
For 10 years, Chiu and his youngest son Duncan discussed a plan to rebuild the amusement park on Lantau Island.
It was dead in the water thanks to environmental issues, Duncan told the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Last year, father and son decided to open the park in the Central promenade.
Deacon did not live to see it happen. He died in March at the age of 90.
“I am very grateful that I can live his dream but also very sad that he is no longer around to see it,” Duncan said.
Duncan spent much of his childhood in the old amusement park on the west shore of Lai Chi Kok Bay.
It had been bought by his father from its original owners in 1961 and enjoyed a successful run until it began losing business to Ocean Park.
In 1997, it was torn down to give way to a residential development.
“I was in primary school and I had lots of free time compared with my elder brothers. So I would have time to go with my father to the park,” Duncan said.
“I did my homework in the manager’s room. Of course I played, too. I loved to ride bumpy cars with my schoolmates.”
Duncan’s aim is to bring back memories of the good old days but the new version won’t be a repeat of the old theme park.
Apart from traditional attractions such as Little Carousel and Gum Tile (the most profitable game according to Deacon), there will be robotic elephant Super Tino that eats plastic banana and Spooky School, an electronic ghost house .
For all his business savvy, Deacon did not give Duncan any advice about running a theme park.
“Dad only reminded me about one thing — keep up with the times. I worked in the innovation technology business, so this is the last thing I need to worry about,” Duncan said.
Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park Co. Ltd, which is chaired by Duncan, has invested HK$60 million (US$7.7 million) in the temporary park.
Duncan said he has no idea whether the business will break even, let alone make a profit.
There will be no entrance fee, but visitors have to buy tokens to play the games, some of which are quite expensive.
Spooky School costs HK$100 per visit.
Duncan said the fee reflects the high set-up costs of the haunted house which comes with cutting-edge technology.
For instance, visitors will experience virtual reality in the haunted house simply by using an app from their mobile devices. A high-tech LED system projects life-like images on the wall.
Visitors need to download the app before entering Spooky School to enjoy the full scope of a ghostly experience.
“It is scary inside, so we don’t recommend children to visit,” Duncan said.
The park will operate for just 70 days but Duncan hopes it’s enough time to see whether he should start looking for a permanent venue.
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