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Orange County's Discovery Science Center

A great place to learn AND have fun!

Does you child or grandchild love hands-on, kid-oriented science museums? If so, your child will LOVE the Taco Bell-sponsored Discovery Science Center in Orange County, California.

Located in the town of Santa Ana...just a short drive down Interstate 5 from Disneyland Park in Anaheim!'ll find the Discovery Science Center to be a delightful, full-service children's science museum of the caliber you'd expect in one of the USA's largest metropolitan areas.

On this page, we'll chat about the exhibits you can expect to find at the Discovery Science Museum, and the practical details for planning your outing there.

Note: In the photo to your left, you can see the giant dinosaur which stands in the middle of the science center's dinosaur exhibit. The cut-away construction of this dino lets kids view "what's on the inside" of a dinosaur, as well as participate in hands-on activities that teach about anatomy.

Discovery Science Center -- The Bed of Nails!

Close-up photo of the real nails used on the Discovery Science Center's Bed of Nails!  Yikes! When I took my 2 grandkids (Natali, age 6 and Gabriel, age 10) to the Discovery Science Museum during Summer 2006, their favorite exhibit, far-and-away was the BED OF NAILS! You're reading that right---a real, true-life bed of nails is one of the exhibits at a children's science museum! I've been to kid's science museums from coast to coast, and I've never seen a bed of nails before! Maybe it's something new. Maybe "all the museums" will be getting it soon. What do I think personally? Well, I'll let my brave grandkids take a shot at it---I'm too chicken!

As you can see in the photo to your left, these are real nails...the type used in building construction. They make me want to say "ouch!" just looking at their picture!

Photo of smooth plastic covering the bed of nails at the Discovery Science Museum in Santa Ana, California The science behind laying on a bed of nails is that "if you spread out your weight evenly across as many of them as you can, each nail will bear little weight and won't hurt you."

With that in mind, then, the most obvious time that someone would get hurt on the bed of nails is during the getting-on-and-getting-off-the-bed process. During those times, very little of the body's surface comes into contact with the each nail will be bearing lots of weight. And the kids could get hurt!

At the Discovery Science Center, they've gotten rid of this dangerous step of the process. The kids lay down on a bed of smooth, thick plastic. You can see a close-up of the plastic bed (with many holes in it for the nails to stick through later!) in the image to your right.

Photo of the bed of nails at the Discovery Science Center; first the kids lie on the smooth plastic, then the nails are raised

After the child is resting on the smooth plastic bed, then the nails are raised by the exhibit's attendant. In the photo to your left, you can see a close-up of Natali resting on the smooth plastic bed before the nails were raised.

Of the two kids, Natali was the one who complained of some pain when the nails were raised. She said that it did hurt somewhat...but, nevertheless, it was her favorite attraction. Gabriel, who's older and has tougher skin, didn't really think it hurt.

At any rate, out of all the things that the grandkids did with me on their 3-week summer vacation, the Bed Of Nails was the thing they did which they told their mom about FIRST...ahead of the rides at Disneyland, even!

Picture of the bed of nails at the Discovery Science Museum; after resting on a smooth plastic bed, the nails are raised under the children

In the picture to your right, you can see a close-up of the nails coming up under Gabriel's body when it was his turn on the bed of nails.

After the experience was over, the kids both rushed to the Penny Squisher. They wanted to be sure to get their pennies pressed into the "I Survived the Bed of Nails" design! (The penny press costs 50 the penny to be squished. There are 4 designs that you can get in the Discovery Science Center's penny press...just in case your kids are "into" collecting these interesting souvenirs.)

Discovery Science Center -- Dino Quest

Photo of a dinosaur skeleton at the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center on Interstate 5 in Southern California, USA A new, permanent exhibit at the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center is "Dino Quest." The Dino Quest exhibit is on display outdoors in the courtyard behind the museum (where the space shuttle exhibit used to be.)

You'll be able to enter the Dino Quest exhibit free-of-charge...OR pay an extra fee, depending on what you want to do there.

To view Dino Quest and for your kids to enjoy its interactive learning activities about dinosaurs is FREE. All you have to do is walk out the back door of the museum and start enjoying yourself.

On the other hand, you can pay extra to go on special "quests," like hunting down an "escaped dinosaur," discovering hidden crystals and fossils, or training a baby triceratops.

Picture of the fake dinosaur bones kids can dig up while at the Discovery Science Center in Orange County, CA

In the photo to your left, you can see a dinosaur skeleton looming into the sky....and on your right, you see dinosaur "bones" awaiting a child archaelogist to free them from the earth.

Discovery Science Center -- Other Exhibits and Fun

Photo of the swirling vortex in a large tube that kids can stir up while exploring the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, CA There are 2 floors just full of high-quality science-themed exhibits at the Discovery Science Center. There are literally dozens of activities in which your children can get involved. They'll probably do exactly what my own 2 grandkids did----try out everything, but spend the most time with the activities they enjoy best.

Exhibits explore so many different scientific topics that it's hard to mention them all---topics such as earthquakes, the flow of water in rivers and oceans, the use of science in music, how wind tunnels work...and many more.

Adults are free to enjoy the exhibits along with the kids...or else enjoy sitting on one of the benches that are placed throughout the museum!

In the photo to your left, you can see a swirling vortex...a tornado in the midst of water...that children can start by the push of a button. They can see the water start to swirl faster and faster until the spout shape forms.

Photo of the Globe of Planet Mars, which may be seen at the Discovery Science Center near Anaheim, California Have you ever wondered what Mars looks like? In another interesting exhibit, you can examine...and turn all about...a large globe of Mars. You'll see all the actual features of the Red Planet, mapped with the precision that today's science allows us to enjoy.

Picture of one of the science exhibits at the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center in Orange Co, California, USA

When is the best time to visit the Discovery Science Center? Well, the museum's hours of operation are from 10 am until 5 pm during the school year, and 10 am until 6 pm during the summer. I would suggest, however, not trying to be an "early bird" and get there at opening time...unless you go on the weekend. On weekdays, school groups and preschools load into the science center. The facility is large enough to handle a crowd...but there may be waiting lines at the exhibits and the noise level will be high during the morning times. By early after noon, the school groups start to leave and individual families might be better able to enjoy their museum visit. On weekends, of course, school groups won't be there, and you can come when you like. Nevertheless, morningtime is quite popular with families, even on weekends, you may find the afternoons less crowded.

Discovery Science Center -- Directions, Map and Contact Information

Night photo of the giant cube which decorates and provides solar power for the Discovery Science Center in Orange Co, California The Taco Bell Discovery Science Center address is: 2500 N. Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705. The Taco Bell Discovery Science Center phone number is 714/542-2823.

Directions to the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center museum: You'll need to be on the Interstate 5 freeway. When you reach the city of Santa Ana (in Orange County), you'll take the Main Street exit. The science museum is just north of I-5, plainly visible from the freeway. In fact, what you'll see is the giant black cube that's in the picture to your left. Far from being able to miss your exit, your eyes will be riveted upon it!

Of course, you'll want to see a map of the area around the Discovery Science Center so that you can plan your route. You may use the following link to view a Yahoo map of the Orange County, CA area around the Discovery Science Center.

If you play around with the map and "zoom out," you'll see the freeways coming into this area. Though Disneyland is not specifically marked, you'll notice that the Discovery Science Center is not too far from where Interstate 5 intersects with both Ball Road and Katella Ave...2 major Disneyland Resort exits! So, as you can see, heading to the Discovery Science Center would be an easy outing for visitors to Disneyland---and and outing on which it would be difficult to get lost!

For further information, including the current Discovery Science Center ticket prices, new and rotating exhibits, and information about holding birthday parties at the museum, you'll want to visit the Discovery Science Center official website,

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