The Great Park Balloon ride is closed Monday thru Wednesday, being Thursday morning we were sure it wouldn't be crowded. Located just off the 5 freeway. Free parking. The parking lot was a breeze to get a spot, not a whole lot of cars and just a few school buses. We entered into the visitors center, there you sign a release waiver and we were given a buzzing disc, 20 minute wait. They gave us all hand stamps for unlimited FREE rides on the carousel so off we went. After one ride around the merry-go-round we walked over to explore the kids play area, faux rocks, cave, slides for the little kids, then our disc vibrated it was time to ride the balloon. Back to the visitors center, we were given our boarding passes and headed to the balloon boarding area.
Not what I had expected, a donut shaped metal basket/platform, with just 1 cable tethering us to the ground. It usually holds 25-30 people, on our trip we were at about half. 400 feet in the air we went, the weather was grey, but better than too sunny I suppose. We could see down below, all of the goings on in the Great Park and out across the Irvine Valley.
With plans for future growth, (a birdie told me there were plans for a possible water park of sorts) the view should get more interesting as time goes on. A bit of swaying upon lift off and landing was the only thrill it held, other than than it was quite passive. There are no age limited or height requirements as long as you are good with heights, it's a pretty easy ride.
The great park also has a farm area, showcasing sustainability, with windmills, worms, chickens, boxed farming.
We headed over to the worm bed first, then over to the chicken pen, they gave us kale to feed to the chickens. A guide was there to show and tell about the world of chickens, eggs and such. We also learned of the parks ability to survive in an emergency.
All in all it was a very mello day. Not crowded at all. Nice volunteers. I will be going back with Grandpa in tow and preferably a sunnier day. It's all FREE !
According to their website they host movie on the lawn nights and farmer's market days as well as other events, while we were there they were setting up for an OC moms event. On their website learn about the Solar Decathalon they are hosting in 2013.