Time flies so fast (and structures deteriorate a little slower, attractions become boring quite sooner). We can’t believe that it had been more than 3 years ago since we’ve last visited the Manila Ocean Park. This travel blog was just starting and we were using the good old point-and-shoot camera. There were a few attractions at the Manila Ocean Park. No penguins. No ice village.
The place would be impressive for first time visitors. On the other hand, the only way for the park to attract former patrons is to offer new sights and sounds. First came the lights and sounds show — the Musical Fountain. Then came the Penguin Exhibit. We didn’t get to watch the Musical Fountain, having seen something similar in Singapore’s Sentosa. The penguin exhibit, on the other hand, is not to be missed, especially by kids.
These are Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus Humboldti). C’mon, say it again, out loud: Humboldt. Do I hear someone complaining? Why add a “t’ or a “d” when one would do? Of course, you can’t complain. Did we complain when you added “h” to Rhose? Or Bhoyet? Or Mhay? Bhong? The list could go one, but you get the idea.
The Humboldt penguins are found in — no, not Antarctica, but in South America, coastal Peru and Chile. The waters may be cold in these places, but the land is hot and dry. This explains why the two-hour queue outside the penguin enclosure is actually colder than inside the penguin exhibit. There’s another queue inside, for the Snow Village. It’s easy to imagine that the never-ending lines, including the queue for the tickets, are bound to get worse as the Christmas season draws near.
This brings us to something important: be mindful of your health because there will be great swings in temperature. It’s very hot outside the venue. It gets manageable inside with the aircon. It gets a bit hotter inside the penguin exhibit. Then it gets really, really cold inside the Snow Village (bring your snow gear, although they provide a suitable jacket, for free, but imagine how many people used that for the day).
If you love penguins, and you visit the Penguin Exhibit because of that love for penguins, hold on to that emotion. Don’t mind the mini-slide outside the penguin enclosure. Unless they improve it, it will remain corny, especially if you’ve tried the Enchanted Kingdom or the Splash Island.
Heck, the slide inside Snow World of Star City is better. The Snow World is also bigger than Manila Ocean Park’s Snow Village. The queue going in is just as long. But the “snow” in the Snow Village is like snow, flaky and soft. The “snow” in Snow World is like ice, hard. And the crowd is different (it’s for you find out).
The Snow Village experience lasts for 5 minutes. You could actually extend and go out together with the batch (that’s another 5 minutes), but be considerate to those who are in line outside. Besides, we brought our kids and had to go out even before 5 minutes.
It’s a blissful 5 minutes, mind you. Sure, it pales (pun intended) in comparison to the cold in the States or Antarctica. On the other hand, the beauty of the experience is this — you can end it whenever you want to. You can’t simply step out of your house in the States to get back to a warmer climate. The Snow Village is a 5-minute change of atmosphere and environment, like the spice in your favorite dish.
The Trails to Antarctica, while a bit misleading (the penguins here are from Peru and Chile, not Antarctica), is informative. Plus it’s strategically placed where the queue would be, which means that everyone would have all the time in the world to read the trivia and look at the photos. Nice. You have something to distract your mind from the long wait.
Going back to the Penguin Exhibit, there’s a “feeding experience’. For an additional P250, you’ll have a close encounter with the penguins as you feed them. The P250 includes a photo souvenir. We were there for the Penguin Exhibit. We didn’t know that the P300 fee already includes the Trails to Antarctica and the Snow Village. These are welcome bonuses, I must say, but the kids would still enjoy the penguins without these add-ons.