Newport Fun Zone Rumors

Rumors of the demise of the Newport Beach Fun Zone have been overstated. But not by much. Here are the facts as I’ve been able to piece them together:

  • At the end of last year, the Newport Beach Nautical Museum announced that it had completed its purchase of the Fun Zone. At the time, “[o]fficials on both sides of the deal emphasized that much of the amusement park would remain intact.” Except for the bumper cars and haunted house ride (aka the Scary Dark Ride), that is.
  • In June, it was reported that many of the Fun Zone rides were for sale — not just the bumper cars and haunted house, but also the Drummer Boy (a spinning tea cup type ride), miniature golf equipment, the laughing lady and the ferris wheel.
  • Many reports state that the ferris wheel has a 30 year lease — and hint that it is not going anywhere soon. How this is reconciled with the listing of the ferris wheel for sale is unclear.
  • The Fun Zone itself acknowledges that most of the rides — except for the ferris wheel and its 30 year lease — will be removed at the end of the summer. How this is reconciled with earlier statements that “much of the amusement park would remain intact” … well, you get the picture.
  • The fate of the carousel is uncertain. It is not listed for sale — but it is covered by only an annual lease that expires in September. The Orange County Register reports that “[t]alks have begun to relocate the Fun Zone’s iconic carousel, possibly elsewhere in Balboa.” Reading between the lines, I think that means it is gone as well.

I have nothing against the Newport Beach Nautical Museum — indeed, I enjoyed my last visit. It just seems that we’ve been fed the bad news regarding the fate of the Fun Zone in bits and pieces. Could this be to make it’s eventual demise more palatable? An early report quotes Councilman Tod Ridgeway as saying that the changes were merely part of an “overall face-lift” for the peninsula. Those of us who enjoyed the wrinkles, I suppose, will have to search elsewhere for them.

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