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Chinese aquarium opens as world's largest

Claudine Zap
April 4, 2014

Swim aside, SeaWorld. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom has been crowned the world's largest aquarium by Guinness World Records.

After three years of construction, the 125-acre aquatic theme park is open for business. Located on Hengqin Island near Macao, in China's southeastern Guangdong province, the destination is expected to accommodate millions of visitors a year.

And it's really big: According to Guinness, the attraction snagged five world records, including largest aquarium. It can also boast bragging rights for largest underwater viewing dome, largest aquarium tank, largest aquarium window, and largest acrylic panel — included in the whale shark exhibit's walk-through viewing tunnel.

The aquarium holds a whopping 5.99 million gallons of saltwater. All told, the park's seven themed areas contain an incredible 12.87 million gallons of saltwater and freshwater.

Chimelong Ocean Kingdom "will be the first great Asian theme park combining animal exhibits, themed entertainment shows, and thrill rides," PGAV Destinations, the park's lead strategist, planner, designer, and product developer, noted in a statement.

If this sounds vaguely familiar to a certain Florida destination, it's not a coincidence. The developer, Guangdong Chimelong Group, led by Su Zhigang slated it to be "the Orlando of China."

The park's aquatic attractions will include that whale shark exhibit, penguins, and polar bears, along with the more exotic pantropical spotted dolphins and Chinese white dolphins.

Other entertainment options include a "4D" movie theater; Asia's first "winged coaster," Flying Over the Rainforest (see it in action, but it might give you vertigo); and a roller coaster that also combines a live polar bear exhibit.

While that might sound like an odd choice, it's actually "one of the best efforts in Asia to create viewing interactions between people and animals," said PGAV Destinations VP and project lead Al Cross. Just don't blink.

Follow Claudine Zap on Twitter: @zapkidd