Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Backstage Magic at The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
As the nation's attention turned to Hollywood for last weekend's Academy Awards, let's stay in that area for a look around another historic theater. Last October, I had the chance to visit a monument to Hollywood's past, the The El Capitan Theatre, as part of the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic tour.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre (almost directly across the street), so it appears his vision was not only a success in his lifetime, but has also stood the test of time. For much of the El Capitan's lifetime, the building operated under the Hollywood Paramount Theatre moniker, but an early 1990's restoration brought the property back to its glory years and restored the original name. The Walt Disney Company assisted with those restoration efforts and today acts as the primary tenant of the theater, which shows films from the Disney Studios' library and current releases from the various Disney film companies. A brief history of the theater is available of Disney's web site.
Rob Richards performed a wide range of Disney standards before the organ sunk into the floor and the theater fell dark when it was time for the movie to begin. This YouTube clip isn't exactly what we heard, but gives you an idea what the prelude to the movie was like.
Trick or Treat ran before the feature presentation, followed by a brief (video) introduction by Director Burton. The 3D feature was clear and smooth and the movie sounded great. The fourth dimension to the 3D film adds effects in the theater to the movie, such as Christmas lights, smoke, and snow at different times, synced with the film. The add-ons to the movie didn't change the cinematic experience all that much, but could be a fun addition to a familiar film and are definitely not part of any DVD or Blu-ray extras that you can see at home.
Disney's Soda Fountain & Studio Store, a good place to grab a snack before or after your trip to the theater. The Soda Fountain also hosts regular events for the always active Disney pin trading community, including limited edition releases (I left with one of a 500 pin Limited Edition run recognizing this year's showing of Nightmare, featuring Oogie Boogie). The night after we saw Nightmare, our Adventures by Disney tour treated us to an "ice cream social" at the Soda Fountain and afterwards some of our group got to see the El Capitan play host to the world premiere of Disney's Wreck-it Ralph. In our short time there, we saw evidence of just how busy Disney keeps this theater. We got a taste of the history of the property and a glimpse into its role in modern day Hollywood.