The Vans Pool Party in Orange, California

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The Vans Pool Party never lets down as possibly the best skate contest of the year.

The energy. The skating. The legends and legends in the making.

The Vans Pool Party is a unique skateboarding event that brings together the biggest names in the art of deep bowl skateboarding. Gathering some of the sport’s undisputed legends to today’s elite talent and up and comers, this super session is set at the iconic Combi bowl at the Vans Skatepark in Orange, California.

The skaters are divided into three classes: masters, pros and legends, each competing within their respective brackets. In 2016, the 12th of what is a now classic, annual event, an on fire Pedro Barros took the pro division, while Darren Navarrette secured the masters, and none other than Lance Mountain prevailed in the legends. Mountain edged out podium veteran Steve Caballero, who placed in 2nd, and unseating nine-time Pool Party title-holder Chris Miller, who finished in third.

Why is the Pool Party rad?

For those who remember the good old days of Animal Chin the Bones Brigade, the legends class, featuring classic skaters such as Mountain, Caballero, Christian Hosoi, Mike McGill and Duane Peters, the Vans Pool Party will be of particular interest.

While these seasoned veterans may not have quite the speed and flexibility of the younger pros, their 3+ decades of experience shines through in effortless maneuvers and old school style. At the same time, the pool party showcases the next generation of pool skaters and how they are building on the tradition and pushing the sport in new directions.

This is perhaps the raddest thing about the Vans Pool Party – it brings together the best pool skaters of multiple generations, all united by a love of serious skateboarding.

Where is the Vans skate park in Orange?

The fledgling event is held at the Vans Skatepark in Orange, California, which is roughly an hour from the LA or San Diego airports (depending on the infamous 405 traffic).

This privately owned facility is open daily, offering different entrance prices depending on the day and whether one is a member or non-member. Weekday sessions, for example, cost US $12 for a full day of skating, or US $15 on the weekends.

Sound a little steep for a skate session? Perhaps, but the park is truly a feat of design and engineering excellence. It includes a 20,000 square foot indoor street course, a beginners/warm up course, an extended mini ramp ranging from 5ft to 9ft, and outdoor course and last but certainly not least, the Combi pool. The Vans Combi is a replica of the original Combi pool that was located at the Upland Pipeline Skatepark in California during the early 1980s.

‘It was believed to be one of the best pools in skateboarding history.’

The pool features 10ft transitions and is 12ft at its deepest, with hips, a ‘peninsula’ and plenty of copying to grind. The thing is massive and always dares even the most experienced skater. A Vans shop adjoins the park, in case you want to hand pick the latest in the brand’s classic and contemporary shoe designs and casual wear. There’s even the offer of equipment rentals, lessons and birthday parties – every boy or man-child’s dream come true. For more information check Vans Skatepark.

What’s in the immediate area: best burrito shack, other skate parks/terrain/spots

The Vans Skatepark is located in Orange, California, where it is connected to a shopping mall. This may sound off-putting, but hey, it’s southern California. And think of it this way, if you’re coming with the family or girlfriend, some of the respective members can hit the shops and juice shacks while you hit the park or catch the Pool Party.

There are plenty of places to stay in the area, the most convenient being the Doubletree Hotel Anaheim/Orange County, which is located directly across from the skatepark.

‘As for post-session grinds, when in California do as Californians do and go Mexican’.

There are heaps of well-priced taquerias around and one burrito can easily keep the engine running for an entire day (after a siesta, perhaps). Particularly recommended joints include Mariscos Mocorito, Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen and Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant.

What else can you do in Orange County: Surf City (Huntington), Disneyland, body surf the Wedge

Beside shopping and skating, there is plenty of other cool things to do in the area. Disneyland, the self-proclaimed happiest place on Earth, is of course high on everyone’s list and located just down the road.

‘If cruising with the golden hordes isn’t your thing, there are several other primo skateparks in the area.’

Including Anaheim West Skatepark, Costa Mesa Volcom Skatepark and the top-rated Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest.

If wave riding is also of interest, you can head down to Huntington Beach, where there’s always something to surf on either side of the pier and witness California beach culture on full display. If a solid south swell is pushing through, head up to the Wedge in Newport Beach for some serious body surfing action (experienced body whompers only!).

Accommodation near Orange

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Jake Howard

Jake Howard writes about surfing for a living, and after 15-plus years on the job is still baffled that he's been able keep the hustle going this long.


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