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California 2008 Recap Part 2, The El Capitan Theater Experience in Hollywood

Sometimes a movie is just a movie. But other times, it can be a grand experience – which is exactly the point when visiting the majestic El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.

A group of us were invited to enjoy a showing of Wall-E a couple of weeks back. We’d all been to the theater previously – it’s hard for a Disney fan to resist when a new film opens here!

We planned to tour the theater prior to the show, but we were late and the tour was postponed until after the movie. We entered the auditorium to the sounds of the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, which is quite a unique experience – so much more soothing than the normal barrage of commercials common to most theaters. Soon, the organist and the Wurlitzer sunk into the stage, and the live performance began

Disney’s Flight of Fantasy” is a stage show with a backdrop of favorite scenes from a wide variety of Disney/Pixar films. It is a visual treat! The performances include music, dancing, and a stage full of Disney characters.

This isn’t a review of the film, but I was very happy to get to see the wonderful Wall-E (another winner for Pixar) in such grandeur. Our VIP tickets afforded us reserved seating, popcorn and a beverage (the current price is $26.00 for the VIP experience). The standard seating tickets cost $16.00 for adults, and $14.00 for children and seniors.

We really enjoyed our tour of the El Capitan. Built in 1926, The Walt Disney Company and Pacific Theaters joined forces to restore the theater to it’s original glory. This included working with the National Park Service to preserve much of the detail of the original theater. It re-opened after a 2 year restoration in 1991 with the world premiere of Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Rocketeer”. The El Capitan has been showing Disney films (and of course Disney/Pixar movies) ever since. Inside the theater, there is a display of photos that follow the El Capitan from it’s heyday, through the restoration and includes photos of Disney premieres and celebrities.

During the Wall-E engagement (set to end on August 27th), the El Capitan also offers an interesting Nasa/JPL exhibit which includes replica’s of robotic vehicles such as the Pathfinder and Mars Phoenix Lander.

The El Capitan has seating for 1000 and a Dolby SR-D digital capable sound system.

Adjacent to the El Capitan Theater is Disney’s Soda Fountain and Studio Store. We didn’t try anything at the Soda Fountain, but the ice cream creations look wonderful!

If you are looking for a theatrical experience, and not just a movie – there is no substitute for seeing a Disney film at the El Capitan Theater.