Gone is the Balboa Fun Zone as we knew it. In its place, ExplorOcean will take up residence where the merry-go-round and concessions once stood on the Balboa peninsula.
On Saturday evening, the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum held its annual fundraiser and unveiled plans for ExplorOcean.
In 2005, the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum purchased the Fun Zone property, which included 34,000 square feet of waterfront land plus adjacent docks. According to event chairman Jim Reed, the museum will add a 33,000-square-foot, three-story building that offers an interactive way for children and adults to explore the ocean as well as honor history.
Reed said the idea is to combine education and entertainment. Museum members and a team from Disney developed the ExplorOcean concept to add culture to the area and attract a wider audience. The plans include an underwater treasure hunt and nautical workshops.
"It will become people's portal to the sea," said Tom Pollack, museum chairman.
If the preview party is an indication of interest in the project, it seems to be off to a good start. Hundreds of guests turned out for the outdoor event, enjoying gourmet food, cocktails, live music and a sneak peak of future exhibits.
“It doesn’t matter if you are 2 years old or 90, it would be fascinating,” said Sherrell Andrews, a tourist from New York, referring to the exhibits.
For more information, visit www.explorocean.org.