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“Orange County Great Park”

Orange County Great Park
Ranked #13 of 47 things to do in Irvine
Attraction details
Orange, California
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Orange County Great Park”
Reviewed May 7, 2013

The park has been an amazing mecca of great arts and culture activities. The gallery space is amazing and the garden classes have a hands-on approach. The Farmer's Market was great as well. I want to see more of these events during the summer!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
Thank M D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
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Laguna Beach, California
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Great Park not great or very interesting”
Reviewed April 18, 2013

The park is open 4 days of the week, so seeing the minimum of what is not exactly enhanced so far, not simple. For many years the plans have been talked about and vast quantities of money spent, but as to results for many to enjoy, not at all interesting.

The theme is much about ecology, self sustaining. I doubt in 20 years the park will be sustainable. Sure, classes on how to grow this or that go on during the slim 4 days a week it is open go on; if the wind is low, then a quick ride up the harnessed orange balloon is available. If you like to picnic I suppose the park could please you.

I am disappointed in that I have gone to the Park 3 times in the last 2 years and not seen improvement, just continuing building and talk, lots of talk about what is coming. Boring.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank RC R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level 6 Contributor
111 reviews
57 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Great Park???”
Reviewed April 8, 2013

Wow.... what a waste of a drive. I can not believe this is a project they have been working on for a decade. Supposedly they are making changes. They now charge for the balloon and carousel rides.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
7 Thank lvchick79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Irvine, California
Level 6 Contributor
402 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
“Unique tethered balloon ride”
Reviewed April 6, 2013

Unique tethered balloon ride 400 ft above the ground! First of its kind in the United States...Zero dollars before April 4th 2013. Now they are charging the following:
Rates
Beginning April 4, 2013, flights on the Great Park Balloon will include a fee.
• Adults 17 and older: $10
• Children age 6-16: $5
• Children under 6 are free

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Mark H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Balboa Island, California
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Political football, still a nice place to play, flea mkt., farmers mkt.”
Reviewed March 14, 2013

The Great Park is located on the former US Marine Corps Air Station-El Toro, which has been dedicated in part to public use. The park has a number of scattered parking lots and events going on all over. Essentially there are 3 main events now, the Sunday Farmer's Market with food trucks ($ to $$$), a Flea Market on the First Sunday of the Month, and the public play and education displays.
The Farmer's market and Flea Market are self explanatory.
In the public play areas there are grass fields that can be used for all kinds of sports, the last time we were there there was a kid's golf (using tennis balls) set up. Certainly Croquet, Bocce ball and other similar sports would be appropriate. There are also sports fields for baseball, soccer and the like. Bring your own equipment.
There are some play areas for the 2-8 year olds, with little mountains to climb with caves and animals from the area. (not real animals, concrete molds of bats and snakes) There are benches with brass plaques that have footprints of deer, rabbit, coyote, etc. Some slides, and monkey bars. There are lots of nice tables with umbrellas to sit at and enjoy whatever meal you bring.

I noted that one of the old runways that form a part of the concrete walking areas, had date lines for major events of WW2 painted on it. Things such as VE day, VJ day, Hiroshima, D-Day, etc. Made me miss the base and the wonderful Air Shows with the Blue Angels, that could draw millions of visitors over a weekend.

There are some buildings with educational facilities and displays about food and the environment.

In this area there is the former Fashion Island (Newport Beach) carousel, and a one of a kind Orange Balloon (tethered), with a basket that carries about 10 persons each ascention.

HOW DID THIS BECOME A POLITICAL FOOTBALL?
Well, the park is actually located within the boundries of the City of Irvine, and governed by the Irvine City Council. They had the great idea to sponsor a Solar House Decathalon, (oh, you never heard of it either?) usually held in Washington D.C. and agreed to raise a million dollars matching sponsorship money. They raised $100k. Having realized that they had bit off more than they could chew, the Council did what all political hacks do, instead of cancelling their sponsorship, they passed the expense to the people.

The Council voted on 3-11-13 to put the expense into the pockets of anyone who wanted to use the FORMERLY FREE carousel and balloon attractions. The fees are now $2 per carousel ride and $10 per balloon ride beginning 4-1-13.

In my opinion, this is a disgrace. Even if we never got to go up in the balloon (the daily waiting list filled up at about 10 am, and the balloon was often grounded in the afternoon due to the breeze) riding the carousel over and over was a lot of fun, we could pick different animals and horses each time. The Carousel has tigers, snow tigers, rabbits, deer, a huge mer-horse, dragons and lots of horses, so there was a lot of variety. You could get off and get in line for the next run until you were dizzy from going round and round. Similar carousels in local malls are $1, and there are a lot more attractions around the malls.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank LeBeauxVoyager
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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