Phase One (2010–2013)
The Western Sector Park Development Plan was designed to build out the first, large portions of the Orange County Great Park. The plan emphasized creating public spaces that offered a diversity of uses and were appropriate to the funds available.
In September 2013, the completion of the Great Park’s South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex finalized the preliminary phases of the Western Sector and brought the total activated public space at the Great Park to more than 230 acres.
The iconic Great Park Balloon and popular Carousel headline the elements of the Western Sector. Additional features and attractions constructed in the Western Sector include:
South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex
This 30-acre expansion opened in September 2013 and includes four lighted, tournament-quality soccer fields, four full-size basketball courts, a new restroom and operations facility building, as well as the Kaiser Permanente Thrive Path, a mile-long health and fitness path that features four interpretive signs with Kaiser Permanente health and fitness information and 10 markers to help joggers and walkers measure the distance of their run or walk.
The seven-acre North Lawn multi-purpose recreation area is home to sports and activities of all types, including an ongoing schedule of sports clinics and family sports programs.
Palm Court Arts Complex
Created from two renovated squadron support buildings, the Palm Court includes the Great Park Gallery and Great Park Artist Studios. This space also features a shaded outdoor performance plaza adorned with 54 Canary Island Date Palms, and Ghost Building 243, the Great Park’s first site-specific permanent public art installation. The Palm Court now serves as the Park’s cultural campus, supporting the development of fresh and interdisciplinary, public arts programming.
Farm + Food Lab
The Farm + Food Lab is a two-acre urban agriculture demonstration garden that offers a hands-on gardening experience, featuring themed planters with fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs. A “Pizza and Spaghetti Garden,” for example, shows how ingredients and toppings look before they are made into sauce. Other themes include: an “Ethnic Garden,” “Fruit Salad Garden,” and a “Sensory Garden.” The Farm + Food Lab is maintained by the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Orange County.
Farmers Market and Picnic Area
Every Sunday, the Great Park Certified Farmers Market offers fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, handcrafted artisan products, live entertainment and gourmet food trucks.
Walkable Historical Timeline
The Walkable Historical Timeline was completely re-imagined with a new aesthetic look and has been expanded from 750 feet to 2,604 feet. It includes 162 significant historical events and serves as a natural connection between the Great Park Balloon and the reflecting ponds and viewing pier. Click here to view the Handbook.
Located near the Great Park Balloon, the 4,762-square-foot Visitors Center was the first newly constructed permanent structure to open on the former MCAS El Toro. It provides visitors with a welcoming first stop on visits for rides on the Great Park Balloon and Carousel. It features a large lobby, restroom facilities, and office space.
Kids Rock Playground
Kids Rock is inspired by and focused around educating young guests about conservation ecology and the water cycle (condensation, precipitation, accumulation, and evaporation). A group of misting shade structures, climbing rocks, “underground tunnels,” a seating area made from recycled runway concrete, and illustrated lakes and streams on recycled rubber flooring, come together to form an educationally unique and environmentally conscious space that is safe, fun, and relaxing.
Reflecting Ponds and Viewing Pier
A pair of reflecting ponds and a 2,200 square-foot redwood viewing pier near the Marine Way entrance welcomes visitors to the Great Park. The reflecting ponds connect to the Walkable Historical Timeline and link the South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex with the Great Park Balloon.
Incredible Edible Farm
The City of Irvine and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County have partnered to operate the Incredible Edible Farm at the Great Park. All of the fresh vegetables harvested from this 4.5 acre urban farm are provided to the hungry in our community through Second Harvest Food Bank.
Great Park Farm
Fresh produce from the 105-acre Great Park Farm is sold at the Great Park Farmers Market and other outlets, as well as donated to local food banks. This 105-acre certified organic farm is operated by Orange County Produce, a third-generation Orange County farming operation.
Historic Hangar 244
This former squadron complex hangar has been carefully restored as a 10,000 square-foot special event space.
The Terraced Lawn connects the North Lawn to the Palm Court and Great Park Balloon area and serves as an outdoor performance venue for many Great Park events.
The 14-acre Festival Site provides 530,000 square feet of unobstructed paved surface for special events, and has hosted the world famous Cirque du Soleil in 2010 and 2013.
The Giving Grove
The Great Park donates fruit from the Giving Grove to local food banks. The orange trees in the Giving Grove were generously donated to the Great Park by Halvajian Desert Nursery.