Nautical Museum to unveil plans

NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum plans to unveil its latest designs for ExplorOcean, an ocean-themed education and entertainment center, later this month.

The event will take place at the Balboa Fun Zone, the site of the future attraction.

The milestone will also clarify the future of the organization, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Since it acquired the Fun Zone space about six years ago, the Nautical Museum has presented various plans that celebrate the local nautical heritage and the ocean beyond. This interactive center will emphasize ocean exploration and include local history.

"As a portal to the sea, our goal is to inspire people to begin a whole new wave of ocean discovery," said Rita Stenlund, president of ExplorOcean/NHNM.

The nonprofit will open a 900-square-foot showroom Oct. 22 with detailed architectural renderings, a simulated "fly-thru" video and a three-dimensional model of the proposed buildings.

After the unveiling, organizers will hold an afterparty and fashion show. Some of the events will be held in the space where a historic carousel stood until last month.

In March 2010, the museum revealed plans that included a large theater, weather station, cafe, gift shop and a large curvilinear dock with enough space for tall ships.

But that "was just a place holder design," Stenlund said.

The latest plans were drawn by the Irvine-based architectural firm LPA, Inc. and Pasadena-based The Hettema Group, which designs theme parks.

Tickets to the opening start at $125.

For more information or to make reservations, visit or call (949) 675-8915.

Twitter: @mreicher

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