Irvine Spectrum Center

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Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine Spectrum Center (2013) 12.jpg
"Giant Wheel" at the Irvine Spectrum Center as seen from across I-5
Location Irvine, California, USA
Opening date November 22, 1995
Developer The Irvine Company
Architect Perkowitz & Ruth (Phase 1)
RTKL Associates (Phase 2)
B.A.R. Architects (Phase 3)
No. of stores and services 164
No. of anchor tenants 3

The Irvine Spectrum Center is an outdoor shopping center on the south-east edge of Irvine, California, USA. The mall's notable feature is an Edwards 21 Cinemas movie theater. Built over a 10-year period, the first phase of the center opened in 1995, with the second phase following in 1998. The third phase was completed in 2002. The fourth and fifth phases were built and completed through 2005 and 2006.

It has chains including Barnes & Noble, Macy's, Nordstrom and H&M. Restaurants include Javier's Cantina, the Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Yard House, Izakaya Sushi, California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rockets, Veggie Grill, 41 Olive, Red Robin, Ruby's, Chipotle and Corner Bakery Cafe, Lily Chai Tea. The Irvine Spectrum Center hosts The Improv and Dave and Buster's. The outside screenshots from the Disney Channel series Austin and Ally of the fictional "Mall of Miami" takes place at the Irvine Spectrum Center.


The stage for Disney Magical Holiday Lights

The 21-screen movie theater was the largest movie theater in the western United States. During development the Edwards company code-named it "The Big One", which remained the movie theater's nickname for a while thereafter until other theaters eclipsed its screen count, particularly AMC's 30-screen complex at The Block at Orange. The theater's opening attractions were "Toy Story" and the IMAX 3D feature "Into the Deep".

When Edwards Cinemas was bought by Regal Entertainment Group in 2000, the cineplex was heavily altered. Entrances to theaters were relocated to less-visible locations, and many of them were converted to stadium seating which eliminated up to a third of their seating capacity. The theater was highly visible at night, bearing over two miles of pink and purple neon lights. This night-time visibility has since been reduced by the addition of parking structures and the center's second phase.

During the 2013 holiday season, the Irvine Spectrum Center hosted an event called Disney Magical Holiday Lights in collaboration with the Disneyland Resort.[1]


An illuminated fountain, designed after the Alhambra's Court of the Lions
The carousel
A parking structure entrance showing the number of available spaces

A white obelisk, which at night features the word "SPECTRUM" vertically projected onto it, is located on the northern corner near the 5 freeway. The obelisk, prior to November, 2005, was a multi-color computer generated display of blues, greens, and purples. During the holiday seasons, season-appropriate symbols were displayed. Beginning November, 2005, the obelisk shines in white that still makes it a landmark. The obelisk conceals a cell phone and television tower inside.

The Irvine Spectrum Center has a Ferris wheel called Giant Wheel crafted in Italy, as well as a carousel fabricated in San Francisco. The unusual architecture of the property is based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, figuring most prominently in the center's second phase.[2]

The center's popularity makes it known for being tough to find parking on Friday and Saturday nights. As popularity grew, the Irvine Company, owner of the Center, built two parking structures, (one on each side): one by Edwards, the other by Nordstrom to aid convenience. The structures have sensors that determine how many vehicles are inside. As the vehicle enters the structure, a digital displays how many spots are left on a given level.

As a result of the structures, more space was open to build additional retail stores including as Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Jos A. Bank, 41 Olive, Lily Chai Tea, The Saleen Store (Converted to SMS Motor cars), and Target.

The center features four valet parking stations:

  • Fortune Valet by the Cheesecake Factory and Javier's Cantina,
  • Gateway Valet by PF Chang's,
  • Tradesman Valet by The Yard house/The Improv,
  • Myrtle's Valet near Johnny Rockets/Dave & Buster's (open lesser hours).


It is located inside a triangular area surrounded by Interstate 5 (I-5), Interstate 405 (I-405) and California State Route 133 (SR 133), at the I-5/I-405 split known as the El Toro Y. The nearest freeway exits are Alton Parkway for I-5 and Irvine Center Drive for I-405. It is also near the Irvine Transportation Center (the Irvine Station).


  1. ^ "Center Events". Shop Irvine Spectrum Center. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  2. ^

Coordinates: 33°39′01″N 117°44′37″W / 33.650378°N 117.743504°W / 33.650378; -117.743504