Wondering what’s going on with the OC Great Park playgrounds in Irvine? You’ve probably heard about the community ice center, the championship soccer stadium, and the tennis courts of the 194-acre Sports Complex. Maybe you’ve also heard of the branding change to Great Park?
Great Park PUBLIC Playgrounds
The Great Park has a number of PRIVATE playgrounds for residents only. But there are two kids play areas open to the public.
If you have been to the OC Great Park before, you probably know about the existing toddler-friendly Kids Rock playground which has been around for years and sits outside the Visitor Center. Well, now it’s been enveloped as a small part of a much bigger play complex.
So the two public playground options you have when visiting the OC Great Park are:
- The new and expanded playground behind the Visitor Center (described in this post) which makes Kids Rock just one part of a larger hub of new play and picnic areas. FYI – This playground grand opening was November 16, 2019.
- What I call the Bosque Playground which is situated along the Great Park Trails along the bike trail that runs through the Bosque.
NOTE – There used to be a new playground near the soccer stadium, but as of November 2019 it was transformed into a restaurant/bar area while the Kids Rock playground got a major upgrade with a zip line and some really fun play structures. I actually think this is better for families because you don’t have to travel far to access all the play amenities in one place. Just letting you know so you don’t make the trek to the soccer stadium to be disappointed when you get there.
How to Get to the Great Park Playground:
This location is SO easy if you can just find your way to the carousel and Visitor Center. The staff at the Visitor Center told me that if you put in “OCGP Lot 4” onto your APPLE Maps app (not Google) it will bring you to Lot 3 (which is the lot right near the carousel). You can test it for yourself.
The signage is not great.
Basically, the BIG lot across from the Palm Court is Lot 2. If you can turn towards the Farm & Food Lab towards the soccer stadium, then you can access Lot 3 which is the closest to the carousel.
There are tons of roundabouts in the park, so you will need to navigate them. There is a Great Parks Blvd or even Irvine Blvd are great ways to access Bosque which cuts through the park right to Lot 2.
Imagine that the new playground area is set up in sort of a circle behind the Visitor Center.
As you approach from the parking lot, you’ll pass the carousel and the Visitor Center. You’ll see the balloon and walk through the Kids Rock playground.
Don’t be shy about going inside the Visitor Center, they are super nice and ready to answer questions. You can get pre-packaged refreshments from the mini-cafe and buy tickets for the carousel or register for the balloon ride here.
Then you’ll head to the play area and pass the Kids Rock area and spy the new playground!
In front of you is a bit of a sensory play area with a rock abacus, spinners, telescope, and two rolling pieces that make noises like music and rain!
Can you spy the lawn area in the middle and the little playground pockets lined up around the hub?
To your right is the big balloon and some teeter-totters and spring rides, along with a fun dome and pillar course for climbing.
Beyond is a small sandbox with diggers and a view of the balloon.
The steps are for wheelchair access to the sand.
Then you’ll come to an area with baby swings and a merry-go-round with one small spinner.
Notice each of these areas has seating for parents with a clear view of the entire playground.
Then there is a very cool rope area that I think even teens would like. This is only a portion of it.
And this is the really cool part! I love this huge structure and all the opportunities for climbing, crawling and sliding.
It’s a tight squeeze up ladders and stairs, but there was a three year old up in the highest areas to go down the tall slides. I talked to a mom who said climbing up inside is do-able.
Just keep in mind that the playground is rated for 5-12 year olds.
The slides were extremely TALL, but I watched the kids slide down and it didn’t seem too fast.
Finally, you’ll come around to this fun swing and then the AWESOME zipline and lounge chair area.
Wow! And I haven’t even mentioned the large grassy areas and lots of sidewalks for walking.
Lots of places for parents to sit and observe the kids and easy to see them from far away.
You can even rent out chairs and umbrellas for $5 at the Visitor Center.
It’s nice to have the parking lot and Visitor Center nearby.
- The balloon is CLOSED Mon-Wed and it’s FREE. You should always call ahead to see if weather is impacting the flights for the day.
- Carousel is also CLOSED Mon-Wed and it’s $3 per ride or $10 for an all day pass.
- Sporting events, concerts, or special community events could impact your access to the parking closest to the play area. However, the lots are big and there are multiple ways to approach it.
- Always, always consult the official OC Great Park website for official info. This is an active construction site and plans always seem to be changing. It’s a great practice to do your research or call the Visitor Center to learn what’s going on before you come.
I wrote about the Kids Rock Playground (circa 2010) near the Visitor Center when it opened.
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.
Here’s my write-up about the Bosque Playground.
Great Park Balloon
Great Park Carousel
The Farm + Food Lab, plus Certified Farmer’s Market on Sundays
- Parking is FREE (Lot 3 is the closest lot)
- Play surface: Recycled rubber
- There are restrooms outside the Visitor Center which are open during park hours and also at the various fields and stadiums surrounding the playground
- Benches for viewing kids
- Shade-covered picnic tables areas and also a lounge chair area
- Lots of stroller-friendly sidewalks for long walks
- Other features: Great Park Balloon, Carousel, Farm + Food Lab, Farmer’s Market on Sundays in Lot 2
- Official City of Irvine Great Park website with the page for hours & driving directions (just remember ocgp.org and it will bring you to the park pages for the most up-to-date info)
- This playground is on my Best Playgrounds in Orange County post as a runner-up for its zip line
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.