World’s Largest Aquarium, Ocean Kingdom, Opens In ‘The Orlando Of China’. China’s sky-high ambitions to build the world’s largest everything have found a new outlet in Hengqin Island, a once sleepy southern isle that’s uncoincidentally located next to the world’s biggest gambling hub, Macau.
Guinness World Records just declared the island’s debut attraction, Ocean Kingdom, the world’s biggest aquarium. A staggering 48.75 million liters (12.87 million gallons) of salt and fresh water helped it usurp the title from the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta when it officially opened to the public last weekend.
Ocean Kingdom’s World Largest Aquarium
Yet, Ocean Kingdom’s superlatives don’t stop there. The $806.5 million complex, a 15-minute drive from Macau, not only set the Guinness World Record for largest aquarium but it also broke four other records, mostly for its gargantuan whale shark exhibit, which is itself the world’s largest tank, with a volume of 22.7 million liters (5.99 million gallons) of salt water.
The whale shark tank features the world’s largest acrylic panel and largest aquarium window at 39.6 meters (129 feet, 11.05 inches) by 8.3 meters (27 feet, 2.77 inches), and similarly claims the world’s largest underwater viewing dome, with an external diameter of 12 meters (29 feet, 4.44 inches).
“Breaking any world record is amazing, but to become the world’s largest aquarium requires phenomenal creative vision and immense engineering efforts,” Rowan Simons, president of Guinness World Records Greater China, said at Ocean Kingdom’s official opening event last weekend. “The result is an incredible attraction experience, and Guinness World Records is delighted to recognize the five specific world-beating achievements that make it so special.”
Ocean Kingdom welcomed a half-million visitors during its unofficial “soft opening” in January, and the 143-hectare (353-acre) complex hopes to woo a large chunk of the 29 million tourists who visit Macau each year now that it’s opened in full. Each of the park’s seven sections ushers visitors through the world’s waterways from the Amazon to Antarctica, offering an up-close look at an array of creatures like whale sharks, tropical spotted dolphins and Chinese white dolphins.
Ocean Kingdom is connected by a 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) “Grand Canal” to the Chimelong Hengqin Bay Hotel, which claims to be the “largest ecologically themed hotel in China.” Both Hengqin Island attractions are part of the greater Chimelong International Ocean Resort, whose goal is to become Asia’s first themed resort combining animal exhibits, thrill rides and entertainment.