ExplorOcean Set to Unveil Plans, Info Center

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A rendering of what the ExplorOcean attraction would look like under new plans to be unveiled next week.

On Oct. 22, ExplorOcean/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on the waterfront in Newport Beach, beginning at 6 p.m. with the unveiling of its new plans for ExplorOcean, Orange County’s newest ocean-themed attraction.

Following the presentation will be an exclusive fashion show on the docks presented by Façonnable South Coast Plaza.  Later, guests will enjoy dancing under the stars, bonfire-side food and drink, an exciting auction and after-party.

“We have so much to celebrate,” said Rita Stenlund, president of ExplorOcean/NHNM.  “We are celebrating the generosity of so many of our sponsors who have given us an opportunity to present our plans for ExplorOcean.  We are celebrating the progress we have achieved toward making our dreams a reality.  And, we’re celebrating the excitement, fun and inspiration that we have the honor to give back to the community of Newport Beach by breathing new life and fun into the historic Fun Zone.”

During the festivities, Stenlund and the ExplorOcean/NHNM board of trustees will introduce the new ExplorOcean Preview Center, unveiling the vision for ExplorOcean as an educational-cultural destination.  The 900-square-foot showroom will include detailed architectural renderings, a high-definition fly-through video and a large, three-dimensional model of the new attraction, created by renowned architect Rick D’Amato of LPA, Inc. and Phil Hettema and his team at The Hettema Group.

The conceptual plan includes about 30,000 square feet of indoor and 10,000 feet of outdoor space, a multimedia theater, a restaurant and café, rooftop facilities for special events, a kids’ play area, and exhibits and hands-on simulations. The centerpiece would be a circular “4D” theater with elaborate multimedia programming.

Special guest Chris A. Welsh, a Newport Beach resident, worldwide adventurer and honorary chair of the event, will be at the Oct. 22 event to share his commitment to the ExplorOcean attraction and give participants a glimpse of the Five Dives Expedition he has planned with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Oceanic.  ExplorOcean has been named educational partner in the expedition which involves a record-breaking journey to the five deepest ocean basins on the planet.

“We are thrilled that Chris is playing a key role in the development of our project,” said ExplorOcean Chairman Tom Pollack.  “Chris is a modern day explorer who epitomizes the spirit of ExplorOcean.”

For more information about the event or to make reservations, download the invitation, or purchase tickets, visit www.explorocean.org, or call 949-675-8915.


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  1. Seriously, do any of the actual residents in Newport Beach really want 150,000 more people on the peninsula? By the way, the water taxi service that got pushed through by the current mayor is not for the average boat owner but is in reality for the tourists on the cruise ships that ExplorOcean wants to have anchor outside of our harbor. This “tourist attraction” should be put in a commercial harbor like San Pedro or Long Beach and not in Newport. Please be careful when you vote for city council this next election and find out which developer types are supporting this monstrosity. Most of the council people do not actual care what the residents want so we need to be proactive, research and vote!