The Irvine City Council this week approved the purchase of a hand-painted carousel that used to be at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
The Venetian-themed carousel, which has 32 colorful animal figures and two chariots, can accommodate up to 40 children at a time.
The 38-foot-diameter carousel is expected to become part of the Great Park's Kids Rock playground, which is under construction.
"The carousel will be an attractive addition and will add a dimension to the preview park that I know people will enjoy," Councilwoman Beth Krom said in an e-mail. "What I am proud of is that we are 'pre-activating' the park through the introduction of resources, programs and performances that allow people to come together in a unique space to enjoy themselves."
The Great Park will pay $213,525 for the carousel, and an additional $98,275 will be needed to refurbish it to like-new condition, according to a city staff report.
Installation will cost $100,000, bringing the total cost to $411,800. The money will come out of funds already designated for Great Park development.
Along with sprucing up the animals and other features, the original manufacturer, Barrango Manufacturing, will repaint the 12 existing Venetian murals to depict themes of the Great Park's heritage.
Krom said she supports the carousel purchase but wants to make sure the Great Park doesn't become just another amusement like Disneyland.
"When Walt Disney cleared some agricultural lands to create a wonderful Fantasyland, nobody ever imagined that 50 years later we would all be riding on Autopia every day, our lives would be a roller coaster, and all we would want to do is wander aimlessly through a grove of orange trees enjoying the fragrant blossoms," she said.
The Irvine Co. operated the carousel at Fashion Island for several years before removing it earlier this year and consigning it back to Barrango for sale. Newport Beach preservationists argued that the ride should stay put.
The Great Park Board of Directors first approached the Irvine Co. in early 2009 about buying the carousel, and the board approved the purchase in April 2010.