Cast Alumni


Last Day at the Balboa Fun Zone
September 17, 2006


Archive photo by Jaimes Palacio

Midnight Insanity originally performed at the Landmark Balboa Theatre, which located in the Balboa Fun Zone.

Since the departure of Rocky, the Fun Zone has fallen on hard times. A number of rumors surfaced about the Fun Zone being demolished. News came out that the Fun Zone was officially closing on September 17th, 2006 at 9pm (thanks Josh).

On that day, I hopped in the car and made what I thought was going to be my last trip down to the Balboa Fun Zone. Thankfully, I don't need to say exactly that...

To me (and probably most of us), the "Fun Zone" encompasses all the stuff to do in that area of town. In truth, the "Fun Zone" proper only includes the building that starts with the Bumper Cars and Scary Dark Ride, and continues on till the arcade by the Balboa Ferry. This also includes "Sushi 21", the "Bay Burger" joint, and the corner shop that used to be Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Everything else, as far as I know, is remaining...

I did ask the arcade guy "so, what's going to happen to all this equipment?" I was looking for deals.

He told me that the arcade wasn't going anywhere. This is the corner arcade that is in the "Fun Zone" building, next to the Ferris Wheel. He told me that the arcade had 9 years left on their lease, and the Ferris Wheel had 30 years remaining on theirs. The Ferris Wheel was shown to be something they were going to preserve anyway, though maybe they didn't exactly have a choice. They also said that they would try to preserve the Carousel, but it sits right in the middle of the proposed courtyard for the new museum, so it will have to be moved.

The Balboa Fun Zone is to be replaced by the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum (www.nhnm.org). I included the artist rendering at the end of the set, click here.

From the looks of the drawing, they will be taking over the docks, where they will have historical ships for people to look at. It shows that they will be preserving the Balboa Auto Ferry and the Ferris Wheel.

The first building in the lower-left corner of the drawing is Pizza Pete's. The Balboa Theater is on the block with Pizza Pete's, which is one block over from the "Fun Zone" ... so presumably none of that is going anywhere ... at least, not for the moment.

The museum folks do have a fairly large demo room set up, with models of ships and videos showing on large screens. Even though the "Fun Zone" is shut down, you can still get into the demo room. It's located behind the corner arcade, first door on your right if you go up the steps on the side by the Balboa Ferry.

Anyway, I took my camera with me and snapped a few dozen pictures of the Fun Zone as I made my "final" visit. It was only later that I found out what was officially being torn down, and how much was staying. Still, it made for a nice album, so I'll post the entire lot. I also got some video footage of the Bumper Cars:

If you want a larger view of the video footage, click here.




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