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Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood

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The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is the pinnacle of the Disney movie watching experience.  It is old Hollywood meets new, with restorations to both the exterior and interior, and equipped with Dolby SR-D digital sound, film and digital projectors, and 3-D capability. It is a Disney stage production.  It is excellent ice cream.  What’s not to love?

The El Capitan is located in the heart of Hollywood, right across the street from the Kodak Theatre- you know, the Academy Awards place.  It originally opened in 1926 as “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama.”  In the ten years following its opening it featured over 100 stage productions starring the likes of Will Rogers, Joan Fontaine and Clark Gable.  In 1941 Citizen Kane made its World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre.  Basically, the place has history.

Then there is the ice cream.  Disney’s Soda Fountain and Studio Store features an old fashioned ice cream parlor (with actual soda jerks!) serving Bakersfield’s famous Dewar’s and homemade candies.  They also make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Mickey-shaped, of course).

The store portion is basically a small Disney Store with DVDs and character merchandise, but with a strong emphasis, including theming, on the film currently featured in the adjacent theatre.

We saw WALL-E (my review here, and my kids’ review here).

One of the cool things about the theatre is that they overlay everything to fit the movie, and by everything I mean from the marquee to the ATM (it was space-themed, not a robot).  This is carried next door into the ice cream parlor where my son and I shared a WALL-E sundae, and by share I mean I had two bites and he went into a sugar-fueled eating frenzy (see above).

For WALL-E the El Capitan teamed with NASA and JPL.  The lobby was decorated in models and information regarding various satellites, robotics, and other milestones of space exploration.  It was out of this world (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  WALL-E runs through August 27th.

Prior to WALL-E there was a live stage show that incorporated scenes from classic Disney/Pixar movies into dance numbers featuring the characters from the corresponding films.  The show is called “Disney’s Flight of Fantasy” and the crowd went wild.

My family and I had a blast and I can’t recommend the experience enough.  If you’re visiting for a Disneyland Resort vacation you should really consider adding this to your itinerary, and if you’re local you’ll appreciate this: clean bathrooms in Hollywood.  That’s the Disney touch.

Upcoming shows include Sleeping Beauty, TinkerBell, Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Chihuahua!), The Nightmare Before Christmas (3-D), High School Musical 3: Senior Year, and Bolt (3-D).

You can call 1-800-DISNEY6 or visit for tickets and information.

6 thoughts on “Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood”

  1. I saw Wall-E on opening night at the El Capitan. More about that in a sec.

    The El Capitan has been a favorite theater of mine for a long time. The shows they do beforehand, the beauty of the theater… it’s amazing. Seeing Ratatouille there was the best movie experience I have ever had — especially with the themed ice cream sundae afterwards!

    Anyways, back on topic… I saw Wall-E there on opening night and loved it, as always. But one thing I observed in this particular stage show is that you can tell immediately which Disney films have lasted and gone down as the greats by the way the audience cheers. As one might think, Tarzan and Lilo and Stitch got mild applause, whereas classics like Peter Pan brought in a lot of noise, and The Lion King noticeably brought the loudest cheers of all — and by a huge margin. It wasn’t even close.

    Anyways, just thought that was interesting. I’ve actually seen Wall-E twice at the El Capitan already, with different people. I want to see it again. I probably will. The movie is just that good.

  2. Daniel,

    That’s a very good point about the movies and their respective cheers. What’s funny is that I was there for the first showing of the day and the theater was filled with summer fieldtrips- Lilo and Stitch got a huge roar. The Lion King was the most popular one with the kids, too.

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