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Balboa Peninsula Ocean Center Will Kill Fun Zone, Smell Salty

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The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum has unveiled plans for a $40 million ocean exploration center on the Balboa Peninsula, including a "4-D" theater that will recreate historical eras of exploration--such as those of the Vikings or ancient Polynesians--by piping in a salt mist. (The Hettema Group, a Pasadena-based theme park design firm, designed the attraction.) Irvine-based architecture firm LPA designed the proposed new center, a 34,000 square foot, three story structure that will be called ExplorOcean, according to the Daily Pilot. The proposed development would include open-air patios, a seafood restaurant overlooking Newport Harbor, and the aforementioned "Into the Unknown" 4-D theater. The $40 million required to build ExplorOcean is the most significant obstacle--ExplorOcean is working with an $8 million endowment, but is still well short of the money needed to complete the center.

And according to the LA Times, some locals are worried about how the new development will fit into the historical character of the harbor. Newport Harbor Nautical Museum member Louise Fundenberg told the LAT that ExplorOcean, "has nothing to do with the history of Newport Beach," and she plans to cancel her museum membership.

The proposed center would be built next to the historic Balboa Pavilion, and the new project would bring the final demise of the Balboa Point Fun Zone, which has been around since the 1930s (its carousel sold for $149,999 on eBay in September). Architects promise the new plan will "evoke the waterfront" and that the ferris wheel will be moved to a "themed pier."
· Boosters hold high hopes for ExplorOcean [Daily Pilot]
· EBay sale means Balboa Fun Zone is losing its carousel [LA Times]
· Sea exploration center proposed for Newport Harbor [LA Times]