Did you know that the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is owned by Disney? Neither did I! No wonder it’s so grand and magical!
I was simply blown away by the grandeur when I attended the red carpet premiere of Iron Man 3 during the #IronMan3Event but I also got a behind the scenes peak at the El Capitan Theatre the next day, when manager Ed Collins gave us our very own private tour.
We began our morning in the El Capitan Theatre private party room upstairs, complete with Mickey Mouse waffles.
Those waffles aren’t just any waffles; the El Capitan Theatre uses the same waffle recipe as the Disneyland park! It was like having a little bit of the theme park right there with us!
You can rent the private room at the El Capitan Theatre for birthday parties, what fun!
A Little History about the El Capitan Theatre
El Capitan opened its doors in 1926, just a year before the Chinese Theatre opened in 1927. Unlike the Chinese Theatre, which showed movies, the El Capitan Theatre only presented stage shows! For the first 15 years, the El Capitan Theatre presented about 150 stage shows.
So, why would the El Capitan Theatre stop only showing stage shows? It’s a pretty interesting story, actually!
Citizen Kane, which painted a pretty sad picture of William Randolph Hearst, was looking for a theatre to premiere…only no theatre wanted any part of it, because back then, the theatres were owned by the movie studios – and guess who reviewed the movies?
You guessed it: Hearst.
The owner at the time, Mr. Toberman, said, “Hey, I’ll try a movie.” So Citizen Kane had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in 1941. After seeing the success, Mr. Toberman said, “Movies are the way to go.”
He then closed the theater, brought it up to date and reopened it in 1942 as the Paramount Theatre.
So many movies have premiered at the El Capitan over the years, and as you walk through the second floor to find your seats in the balcony, you’ll pass decades of memories, showcased along the walls.
You might even spy a ghost or two…it’s rumored that the El Capitan Theatre is haunted! We spoke with an employee who claimed to see a ghost in the employee break room!
A building with so much history, so many stories – I would be surprised if it wasn’t haunted!
After becoming part of Paramount Studios, the theatre ran premieres and first run movies for another 50 years. But when Disney came to Hollywood, they wanted to redo the theatre to match the excitement and grandeur of Hollywood Blvd.
Disney came to El Capitan Paramount Theater in 1989 and restored it’s original designs.
The very first premiere shown upon it’s reopening was The Rocketeer, in 1991.
There is so much detail in the El Capitan Theatre, right down to the carvings on the seats.
According to Ed Collins, what made The Rocketeer premiere special was not only that it premiered on Hollywood Boulevard, but that there was an actual stage show prior to the movie – complete with El Capitan singers and dancers, produced by Disneyland!
In 1998, the Wurlitzer pipe organ was added in a second restoration, which I can attest from my attending the premiere of Iron Man 3 – is utterly amazing and adds a completely new dimension to the experience!
Fun Facts About the El Capitan Theatre
- The El Capitan Theatre shows 10 to 12 movie premieres each year
- The El Capitan Seats 1000 guests
- The number of drapes in a theatre represented how luxurious it was. Most had 2, so the El Capitan had FOUR!
- During the 1989 renovation, an architect was hired to scrape down the ceiling paint so that the original color could be matched!
- The El Capitan is on the Haunted Hollywood tour – a tour of haunted theatres in Hollywood.
2013 Events at the El Capitan Theatre
- Iron Man 3 is currently playing at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA until June 20th in Disney Digital 3D and Real D 3D
- See a Display of Collectibles & Comic Books from the Private Collection of Stan Lee!
- June 21st – August 8th: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (Plus, see Mike & Sulley in the MU Pep Rally with the Sprit Squad Live on Stage!)
- August 9th – September 19th: Disney’s PLANES
For tickets call 1 (800) DISNEY6 or visit www.elcapitantickets.com.
I received a complimentary tour of the El Capitan Theatre while in Los Angeles for the #IronMan3Event. My travel, accommodations and activities were paid for my Disney and Marvel Studios, but all opinions are my own.