The Irvine Spectrum Camp Safari location has closed!
By now, many of the Orange County Moms have spotted the new jungle-themed Camp Safari storefront outside Target at the Irvine Spectrum and may have wondered, “What exactly is that place?”
If you ventured inside back when the store opened in November, you’ll find that they’ve made some major changes since.
I brought my three and one year old boys there to investigate and, naturally, test the boundaries of this experience. Verdict: cute concept for young children… especially intriguing for those bug-lovin’ little boys.
You can find my detailed review below, but first check out this video for an explanation from the store owner. (Watch for my 1 year old signing for a bottle at the end. LOL!)
Designed for ages three and up, Camp Safari provides your little explorer with a “capture cage” (small acrylic container with lid) to move through three different areas: bug barn, tide pool, “dino-shore” and collect as many bugs, mini dinosaurs, or sea life they can fit into their container. The container can be decorated with foam stickers available in the Bug Barn.
There’s also a little gazebo area where “butterflies” (colorful boa feathers) shoot out of a vent and float down for kids to collect in a net. Each child ends their stay with a ride on one of four mechanical animals.
When not hosting a private party, they are open to the public. Their website doesn’t actually indicate the store hours of 11am-9pm M-Thr, 11am-10pm Fri/Sat, 11am-8pm Sun or the non-party rate of $9.99 for each capture cage.
Toddlers are welcomed into the “Explore and Discover” zone with a supervising parent (since the whole place is necessarily wrought with choke-able material). Ages three and up can wander around the gated area on their own.
There is no doubt that this place is small and a little rough around the edges, but you’ll care about that more than your little ones will. Although admission allows you to stay from open to close, with the current set-up, expect to be finished up within an hour – this was perfect for my three year old, but your older ones might find it a little lacking.
The 500-pound robotic elephant, camel, giraffe and zebra are admittedly a little kooky, but the kids do get a kick out of them. There is no bathroom in the store, but one of the mall restrooms is only a few stores down.
Your kids are bound to notice that some of the items in the exploring area that are too large to fit in their container are available for purchase in the retail area at the front of the store…so get your “no” face on at the exit.
The owner did share several ideas for plans to improve on current exhibits (i.e., adding educational info to displayed items) and to change things up periodically to keep it fresh for return visitors. He loves to hear feedback, so if you get to meet Shane, don’t be afraid to tell him what you think.
This store also runs the trackless train you’ve surely seen toting kids around the Spectrum sidewalks. They also have an Explorer Mini Hummer they use for parties – if you ask very nicely, maybe he’ll take you and your kids out back to see it.
Have you been to Camp Safari? What was your child’s experience? (Don’t forget to share kids ages.)