Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Irvine, California

Orange Balloon

One of the largest helium balloons in the U.S. is a 112-foot ginormous orange. 

Irvine is in southern California, about 40 miles from Los Angeles. Being in Orange County, the city had no other color choice for their huge helium balloon ride, the centerpiece of Orange County’s Great Park.

The giant orange orb looks like a hot air balloon, but with a twist—it’s safely filled with helium (no hydrogen danger here) so it’s completely silent. Owned and operated as a community ride attraction by the city, the big, bright ball is one of the largest helium balloons in the United States.

Big Orange has been around since 2007, and was the first of its kind. As tall as a 12-story building, the tethered inflatable can host up to 30 people in its steel gondola, while rising 400 feet straight up to some pretty breathtaking scenery.

On a good, clear day, you can see 40 miles in every direction, taking in the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island to the west, the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, and even Disneyland, just up the 5.

Know Before You Go

Great Park is in Irvine, Orange Country, California, about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Balloon rides are given Thursday through Sunday from 10AM to 3PM, and 7PM to 10PM (no rides Monday to Wednesday). Rates are $10 for adults (19 and older), $5 for children 18 and younger without an accompanying paid adult, and free with an adult (kids under 13 must have an adult with them). There is also a carousel at the park, which is only $3 for an all-day pass (single Ride: $2). See the website for more details and group rates.There is free parking at the site, and rides are first-come, first-served. Flight availability also depends on weather conditions. During Halloween season, the balloon is decorated to resemble a giant pumpkin.