These days it seems as though there’s a movie theater on every street corner. With all of the options out there you may be asking “which one do I choose??” For us the answer is simple- we want an amazing experience! Disney’s El Capitan Theater has a winning combination of history, sound and screen technology, special pre-show entertainment, exclusive experiences, and exhibits that make the movie going experience one that guests are not soon to forget.
Stepping into the legendary El Capitan Theater is like stepping back in time. Built in the 1920s, on world famous Hollywood Boulevard, the exterior of the theater boasts a beautiful Spanish Colonial exterior with a luxurious East Indian interior adorned with colorful fabrics, and an ornately carved ceiling. As guests enter the theater they are greeted by the melodious sounds of a gorgeously restored Wurlitzer Pipe Organ. The organ has nearly 3,000 pipes and can reproduce the sound of four symphony orchestras. Hearing some of the most beloved Disney movie songs played on the pipe organ is nothing short of magical.
The auditorium provides guests with a fully immersive movie experience complete with a Dolby Laser Vision which is a state-of-the-art laser projection system that delivers richer colors and brighter images. The theater is also equipped with a Dolby ATMOS sound system which features over 100 speakers that surround the audience in three-dimensional space.
All seating is reserved at the El Capitan Theater and is broken down into two sections: VIP and General Admission. VIP tickets are located in the center of the orchestra and upper level balcony sections and feature a souvenir popcorn bucket and a 20 oz. drink. Tickets in the VIP section are $28. Fun fact: the El Capitan Theater is one of only two movie theaters in Los Angeles with a working balcony. General admission seats can be found in the lower level orchestra as well as the sides and upper rows of the balcony. Tickets range in price from $18 for adults to $15 for children and seniors; concessions are not included.
Special Pre-show Entertainment
In addition to the live organ performance prior to each show many of the new releases feature an exclusive pre-show performance that is specially themed to the movie that is being shown. There are often special appearances by characters from the movie.
As an example, the pre-show for Zootopia features a visit from several animals from the Wildlife Learning Center as well as a special dance number by the main characters from the movie- Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.
Lower Lobby and Exclusive Displays
At the El Capitan Theater the show goes on even after the movie is over. The lower lobby or basement of the theater often contains props, photos, and artist renderings from the movie that is being shown. Additionally, there is often a neat movie themed photo opportunity downstairs that makes for a fun trip souvenir.
Disney Studio Store & Ghiradelli Soda Fountain
Located directly next to the El Capitan theater, the Disney Studio Store & Ghiradelli Soda Fountain features a small shopping area and yummy Ghiradelli chocolate and soda fountain area. The studio store contains products from the movie being shown as well as Hollywood/ El Capitan themed items such as pins, plush, and clothing. The Soda Fountain offers Ghiradelli ice cream, sundaes (often themed to new releases), and coffee drinks.
The Soda Fountain also serves as the location for exclusive breakfast and character meet-and-greet events centered around new releases. For Zootopia guests who attend the 10:00 a.m. movie showing can pay an additional fee ($30) to have breakfast and meet Judy Hopps before the show. Seating for the breakfast events is extremely limited and only offered on certain days. Be sure to check the El Capitan website for additional information.
El Capitan Theater Tips and Tricks
If you’re planning on purchasing tickets for a movie at the El Capitan Theater we’ve got some tips and tricks to share with you based on our experiences over the years.
- For the best day, time, and seat selection we highly recommend purchasing your tickets via the El Capitan website. Check the website often for announcement of new releases and ticket on sale dates.
- Arrive early!! Traffic and parking on or around Hollywood Boulevard can be quite tricky. We recommend arriving at least one hour prior to showtime. The theater doors generally open 30 minutes before showtime and you want to be in your seats as early as possible to hear the amazing organ being played.
- While all of the seats at the El Capitan offer a great view- the VIP section is a special treat and highly recommended. We love the souvenir bucket and have found the process of picking up popcorn and drinks to be very easy.
I was provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of reviewing the El Capitan Theater experience. All opinions are truthful and my own.