News Release

City of Irvine
Public Information Office

1 Civic Center Plaza
Irvine, CA 92606



Public Information Office

City of Irvine Approves Leases with Cultural Organizations for the Next Phase of Development at the Great Park

At its March 26 meeting, the Great Park Board and City Council voted to approve the lease agreements for Pretend City Children’s Museum and Orange County Music & Dance. These agreements will pave the way for the development of the Cultural Terrace at the Great Park into one of Southern California’s most dynamic cultural, historical, educational, and arts centers. 

The development at the Cultural Terrace will feature expanded new homes for two of Orange County’s premier nonprofit organizations: Pretend City Children’s Museum and Orange County Music & Dance. Working together to create a pioneering project on a unified campus that maximizes sustainable buildings and landscapes, the duo and forthcoming partners will begin welcoming visitors in the summer of 2026. 

“The addition of two well-respected organizations at the Great Park will help continue the City’s commitment to fostering youth development and providing top-tier educational programs,” said Mayor Farrah N. Khan. “Further, these nonprofits will contribute to the City’s economic development and ensure the Great Park truly is a park for all.”

Once completed, the pioneering project will provide interactive, one-of-a-kind early childhood learning and development, artistic, and educational programs. From music to play-based learning to virtual reality exhibits, children and families from throughout Southern California will have the opportunity to expand their perspective, knowledge, and imagination through unique experiences in one dynamic location. 

“Pretend City is looking forward to bringing our early learning and child development programs to even more families, helping them ensure their children are growing up healthy and ready to succeed in school,” said Ellen Pais, Executive Director of Pretend City. “We are especially excited by the opportunity to be a part of this incredible community resource and help make Great Park a destination for all Southern California. We thank the City for its partnership and support and look forward to providing engaging educational experiences for years to come.” 

The Cultural Terrace is located on 45 acres adjacent to Great Park’s world-class Sports Complex. Once completed, it will include 200,000 square feet of cutting-edge museum, educational, and performing arts facilities.  

Conveniently located near freeways, as well as trains and public transit, the new homes for Pretend City Children’s Museum and Orange County Music & Dance will meet the educational and developmental needs of families from across Southern California and serve several hundred thousand people annually through an unparalleled mix of engaging child development programs, exciting historical exhibits, inspiring performing arts training and career training.

“Creativity is an essential part in all of us, nurturing our souls and helping us connect deeply with others,” said Douglas Freeman, President and CEO of Orange County Music & Dance. “At Orange County Music & Dance we focus on inspiring our students and building a lifelong love of the arts. Expanding our facilities will enable all three of our organizations to extend the reach of our programs and increase our services to children and families who historically have not had equitable access to arts, cultural, and educational programs.” 

The Great Park Framework Plan brings over 300 acres of innovative and unique public space to the park, including lakes, gardens, live music, museums, wide open meadows, and space to honor those who served. Grounded in history and driven by community, the new phase of the Great Park will bring an expanding array of recreational and cultural opportunities to Irvine and the region as a park for all.