The iconic Balboa Fun Zone carousel is expected to reopen under new ownership in the Westminster area in the spring, said its previous operator.

While Patrick Moore, the longtime operator of the Fun Zone rides, could not go into details with the Daily Pilot on Thursday because the sale is not yet finalized, he said that the carousel would land somewhere off the San Diego (405) Freeway close enough for locals to enjoy it.

"One of the reasons that I agreed to this sale is that it would keep it nearby and open to the public," Moore said via email to the Daily Pilot. "Not the ideal place for those of us who remember it from the Fun Zone, but at least we can visit it. I wish I had a backyard to keep it in until it could find its way back into Balboa, but I don't and I am not in a financial position to hold onto it unless it is in use."

The carousel stopped operating Sept. 25, following the Fun Zone's 75th anniversary celebration Sept. 23.

The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum decline to renew the lease for the land where the carousel sat in July. The museum plans to use the patio area to host community events and educational programs as it gradually phases in ExplorOcean, an interactive learning center.

The new center won't affect the Ferris wheel, arcade shops or other elements of the three-block Fun Zone, Rita Stenlund, president of ExplorOcean/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, wrote in a letter to the Daily Pilot.

"…I believe we are all talking about a common goal — putting the fun back in the Fun Zone," she wrote.

On Nov. 5, more than 50 students from Corona del Mar High school and other locals staged a protest down at the Fun Zone. They carried signs that read "Keep our Culture Alive," "Leave our Fun Zone Alone" and "Don't Harm Our Charm," according to an article in the Daily Pilot.

sarah.peters@latimes.com

Twitter: @speters01