Wondering what’s going on with the OC Great Park playgrounds? You’ve heard about the community ice center, the championship soccer stadium, and the tennis courts of the newly opened 194-acre Sports Complex. So far, the park has two public playgrounds with one on the way. You may be familiar with the existing toddler-friendly Kids Rock playground which sits outside the Visitor Center and near the big orange Balloon? Out of an astounding “713 acres of parkland,” the newest playground spans 1 acre. So far, it’s called the “Children’s Play Area” near the soccer stadium.
Location: This play area is INSIDE the Great Park in Irvine. Since the whole area is under construction, there isn’t yet a definitive way to get to the play area. If you can get to the new soccer stadium which is HUGE – you can find the play area right nearby. The best I can do is share the official City of Irvine page for hours & driving directions. I’ve pinpointed the oak tree in the middle of the playground with a blue park marker on this not-yet-up-to-date satellite image of the MAP TO CHILDREN’S PLAY AREA NEAR SOCCER STADIUM IN THE GREAT PARK.
- On the day I visited, a mom who lives nearby and her 2 children were playing there for the first time. The kids loved it! Especially the zip line.
- The playground encourages movement with play equipment very spread out in a linear fashion.
- It’s relatively unknown, so not too much competition for the slides or zip line at this point.
- Did I mention the zip line? It’s pretty long and super fun. I (happily) couldn’t get a photo because the kids were spending all their time taking turns to ride it. It’s not like your normal track zip line. It’s on a rope apparatus and you sit on more of a circular, ride-on swing hanging from the rope and glide down the slight slope.
- You’ll notice a bit of a honey bee theme with honeycomb, yellow slides, flowers, and black/yellow dots for balancing.
- 2 yellow slides up a hill. I tried them both! One is interesting because it’s set right into the recycled rubber surface (so there’s no flying off and dropping at the end). This one would be good for younger children. The other slide is more traditionally off the ground and a little windy. Neither are crazy fast.
- A geometric spiderweb climber at the entrance to the park.
- A log tunnel and balancing logs.
- A honeycomb tunnel climber.
- 2 baby swings – one bench, one accessible.
- I loved the big oak tree and the start of other trees that will hopefully provide shade as they grow in.
- There 2 shaded picnic tables at the front of the park and 1 near the back. They all have whimsical shade covers that make playful patterns on the ground.
- On the day I visited the drinking fountains at the playground weren’t yet working, but the ones near the soccer stadium were functional.
- Parking could be impacted during sporting and community events, like the weekly Farmer’s Market.
- The Great Park has hours of operation that might effect your visit. Make sure you check them! The best chance for the greatest number of features to be open would probably be visiting on Thursday through Sunday.
- As of 2017, the park is still an active construction site so there are changes to access and features daily.
- It’s hard to sit in one spot and view your kids. Standing under the central oak tree may give you the best vantage point to see the whole playground. The mom I saw was moving the length of the playground between the kids to supervise zip line riding and climbing on other structures.
- In a nearby Great Park neighborhood there is an incredible “treehouse park” which gets all sorts of rave reviews from parents, until they find out it’s private and only open to residents. I expected something of that caliber for the public, but this playground is pretty sparse in comparison. So sparse, in fact, that in one area there are 2 stairs-to-nowhere hinting at the installation of some part of the playground that just doesn’t exist. I even checked in with the City to confirm that the playground is complete — and they assured me it is done.
Here’s the 2 stairs-to-nowhere:
And the empty space it leads to:
It just seems odd. I’d love to hear what you think is going on at this spot after your visit.
The other existing playground is the Kids Rock Playground (circa 2010) near the Visitor Center. You can click to my existing write-up of that playground from when it opened. Not much has changed there, except I don’t think the misters are functional.
What other features for families can you access when you visit Great Park playgrounds?
Remember to check hours — like I cautioned you in the Be Aware section above.
Great Park Balloon
Great Park Carousel
The Farm + Food Lab, plus Certified Farmer’s Market on Sundays
What’s next for Great Park playgrounds?
There is one more play area coming to the Great Park, according to the City of Irvine. “The Bosque and the Upper Bee represent a one-mile trail from Irvine Boulevard into the Great Park to the Soccer Stadium; a trail for walkers, baby strollers, runners and bicyclists. Along the route will be that new Children’s Play Area as well as a bathroom, landscaping, and an uninterrupted trail made so by tunnels under roadways.” So that will be cool . . . to be able to walk without street crossings between the playgrounds. This part could be done before the end of this year. Check out maps of future plans, the description and narrative on the official Great Park website.
- Parking is free and there is a big lot between the soccer stadium and Visitor Center — which is the area where the playgrounds are located
- Play surface: Recycled rubber
- Restrooms were open at the nearby soccer stadium on the day I visited and there are restrooms outside the Visitor Center which are open during park hours
- Benches for viewing kids
- 3 shade-covered picnic tables
- Lots of stroller-friendly sidewalks for long walks
- Other features: Great Park Balloon, Kids Rock Playground, Carousel, Farm + Food Lab, Farmer’s Market on Sundays
- Official City of Irvine Great Park website with the page for hours & driving directions
Disclosure: The City of Irvine Community Services has sponsored park posts in the past, but this is NOT a sponsored post. Read my full disclosure policy.