Located behind the famous Quirino Grandstand in Luneta is the Philippines' first world-class marine theme park that opened in 2008. I am one of those excited young adults who visited the Manila Ocean Park when it first opened. I remember being mesmerized by the place, reading each and every poster, card, and notices, on every display. It also helped that my travel partner that day is a sucker for museums (Hi, Donna!) :)
The only attraction that time was the Oceanarium and the fish spa. Nevertheless, I had a great time.
A year later, I visited again the park this time with my then-fiance and our friends. The second time around was not as exciting as the first even if I was with amazing company.
Fast forward to 8 years, we have decided to treat Little V for after we finished the school year. For the first time as a family of four, we went for a field trip at the Manila Ocean Park.
I got our discounted tickets through Metrodeal for Php499 each. Our ticket includes the following attractions:
- Sharks & Rays Dry Encounter
- Jellies Exhibit
- Sea Lion Show (Daily: 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM, 3:00 PM to 3:30 PM, 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM)
- Symphony Evening Show (Nightly: 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM)
I also got us tickets to the Yexel's Toy Museum for Php99 each.
The park opens at 10am and we got there just a few minutes shy to 11 and have missed the first Sea Lion show. Aww... Traffic sucks!
Tickets bought through Metrodeal has a special queue at their ticket booth. After presenting our vouchers and a valid ID, we got our passes and attached these on our wrists - in Z's case we placed it on her ankle since her arms are too small.
There were two entrances, on the left is the entrance to the H2O Hotel and on the right is to the park attractions.
|Entrance to Manila Ocean Park|
Since it was almost lunch already, we took our lunch first at North Park located at the right side, across H2O hotel.
Sharks & Ray Dry Encounter
The entrance for the dry encounter is at the left side of the park, before you take the steps going to the ticket booth. An area where you can change clothes was available for those who'd like to stay inside the pool where the rays were.
The area for the encounter is a bit small and we're lucky to have visited this attraction first (noon time!) and only a handful of guests were with us. The kids enjoyed watching the fishes. V was able to touch the ray, too.
|Little V and Hubby J touching the manta ray for the first time|
|Little V and Toddler Z enjoyed watching the different fishes in the tank|
The way out of the area is a very steep stairs going up. For parents with younger kids, who have health-issues, and senior citizens, this place is not for you. The exit will leave you exhausted, if not a heart attack.
(Last entry, 4:30 PM)
Daily: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Jellies ExhibitThe exhibit is located at the far left wing of the park, after passing through a series of stores that would pass as a preview of Divisoria (not the prices, though) and food stalls. The place is dark and lit only by the lights coming from the displays. There are a lot of mirrors so be very careful and take a closer look at where you are going. Frankly, I was not amazed at all with the exhibit. The collection looked many but it was only because of the mirrors and the species displayed were not astounding in my opinion.
(Last entry, 6:30 PM)
Weekdays: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Weekends & Holidays: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Yexel's Toy Museum
To be honest, the only reason I wanted to see this museum is because of the collection of Iron Man. Haha! My family loves Marvel and the kids adore the characters specially Spiderman and Iron Man.
Yexel Sebastian is a Filipino toy collector who has amassed amazing collections since he was a kid. Just looking at his toys make me think, "ang yaman nito ha!"
Highlights of our tour is the Iron Man room, of course.
They also have a mini shop of toys at the exit.
For the third time, I went to see the Oceanarium. I was expecting some upgrades in the displays since my last visit in 2009 however I went out disappointed.
It still looked the same, with some species no longer on display. The area where you can touch starfishes have been replaced by koi. I mean, really?? Kois talaga??
I also did not see the giant clam on display.
The sharks population has increased compared to my last visit, yet still they have very few types available.
I think the highlights of our trip at the oceanarium are: the giant fishes (Talakitok) and when the goldfish "kissed" my son's fingers.
|Touch the goldfish!|
(Last entry, 7:15 PM)
Weekdays: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Weekends & Holidays: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
It was frustrating that the park is not PWD-friendly. We brought Z's stroller with us since we reckon she'd sleep after lunch and my pregnant belly can't babywear her anymore.
There were only two ramps we saw at the park. One was a very narrow ramp outside the park, near where the entrance steps were. And the other one was a small ramp inside the Oceanarium, below the wooden stairs (outside display of tropical plants). We did not see any other ramps around to use for our stroller. The elevator that we saw was not even working!
Paano na lang yung mga naka wheelchair?
There was only one exit from the Oceanarium. So even if you have no tickets for the Antartica and Fish Spa attractions, you still use the same path going out. This meant taking the stairs up to the second floor (we had to carry the stroller up!), walk pass the other attractions, pass by their restaurant, go pass by Yexel's (again!) before taking an escalator going down to the ground floor. Pass by the Jellies Exhibit, the food stalls, and the stores before we can go back to the the main entrance. That's 10 minutes of walk (could be shorter if I wasn't pregnant and didn't have a toddler in tow). Whew! Thank goodness I didn't have any pre-labor contractions!! My daughter was dead tired before we could reach halfway.
We decided not to wait anymore for the sea lion and light shows and called it a day. The kids were tired, I was, too.
Here's a quick video of our tour:
Overall ExperienceIt could have been better.
Little V enjoyed seeing the different species of water animals as well as the toy collections. For small kids like him, it was a thrill. However for adults like us who have seen better, we wished for more.
But, what really disappointed me was the poor planning of the place, the almost non-existence of ramps for wheelchairs and strollers, and the lack of staff to explain at least some of the displays.
The park needs to evolve and include their guests in the conservation of the oceans. This is something that I was not able to see and feel during our tour. People need to know how important it is for us to take action in conserving our environment. Isn't that one of the reasons why we have these marine waterparks?
Have you been recently at the Manila Ocean Park? Let me know your experience in the comments.