Built in 1926 by famed real estate developer Charles Toberman, otherwise known as "The Father of Hollywood", the El Capitan was initially used as a place to see live theater. Over the course of 10 years more than 120 productions were performed there. By the late-30s, however, the effects of the Great Depression forced the owners to transform the El Capitan into a first-run movie palace. Orson Welles's acclaimed drama from 1941, Citizen Kane, was one of the first films to have its world premiere there – thus giving the El Capitan instant credibility in the burgeoning film industry. But in the decades that followed the theatre went through several ownership changes, ultimately falling into a state of neglect and disrepair. The Walt Disney Company bought the theatre in 1989 and spent the better part of two years restoring it to its original prominence. Today the El Capitan screens many of Disney's feature films, the most recent of which have been Chimpanzee and John Carter. It's also home to the late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! Here's everything you'll need to know (and much more) when visiting the El Capitan.
Where is the El Capitan located?
The El Capitan is located right across the street from the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. It's official address is 6838 Hollywood Blvd., 90028.
How do I purchase tickets?
There are plenty of options available for purchasing tickets. The easiest way is to visit the website at http://elcapitan.go.com/index.html. On the homepage you'll see a "Buy Tickets Now" section that will allow you to purchase tickets to any movie currently playing. Or you can always purchase tickets at the box office, which is located in the front of the theatre. It opens at noon. If the internet or box office doesn't work for you, there's always the telephone. By calling 323-757-4PAC you can purchase tickets for any of the shows in advance.
Tickets to Jimmy Kimmel Live! are free, and can be reserved in advance by visiting http://abc.go.com/site/tv-ticket-request.
How do I get there by public transportation?
Getting to the theatre is fairly easy given its location in the heart of Hollywood's tourist district. By train, take the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood/Highland Station, which is located beneath the Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak Theatre). If you're coming by bus the Metro Local Line 156 will also take you right in front of it. You can find the exact times the buses are running by visiting www.mta.net.
How do I get there by car?
Those coming from West Hollywood or Hollywood can take Hollywood Blvd. all the way to El Capitan's front entrance. If traffic is backed up on Hollywood Blvd. (and it usually is during rush hour) then you can always take Fountain Ave. to Highland Ave. Head south on Highland, then make a left at Hollywood Blvd. The El Capitan is right there.
If you're coming from the South Bay and the beach cities, take the 405 North to the 10 East. Merge on to the 110 North and take that until you merge again on to the 101 North. Get off at the Hollywood Blvd. exit, which will take you right to the theatre.
Those traveling from Pasadena need to take the 110 South to the 101 North. Get off at the Hollywood Blvd. exit then follow it to the El Capitan.
If you're coming from the San Fernando Valley, take the 101 South and exit on Hollywood Blvd. This will lead you right to the theatre.
Those coming from Orange County should take the 5 North to the 101 North. Get off at the Hollywood Blvd. exit and follow it to the El Capitan.
What's the parking like if I drive?
There's a huge 24-hour public parking facility located right beneath the Hollywood & Highland Center, which is across the street from the El Capitan. The facility has two entrances. The first is located just north of Hollywood Blvd. on Highland Avenue. The second entrance is located on Orange Drive, which is just west of Highland Avenue, and a little bit north of Hollywood Boulevard.
Parking will cost you a measly $2 for up to two hours. But only if you validate with any of the participating restaurants, shops and nightclubs located in the Hollywood & Highland complex. Now if you validate from Grauman's Chinese Theatre, then you'll only have to pay $2 for up to four hours of prime parking time. The daily max for parking is $10, but you're going to have to pay a $10 flat rate if you plan on parking there after 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Valet parking is also offered at the Highland Avenue entrance for an additional $6.
What's the seating situation like?
The interior of the El Capitan is decorated with an elaborate East Indian theme, complete with ornate wood carvings, comfortable seats, and three full layers of satin curtaining that open up dramatically, thus exposing the movie screen, prior to the start of the film. The sound system inside the El Capitan is also first class, so no matter if you're sitting in the orchestra section or in the balcony, you're bound to have the best movie-going experience imaginable. And as an added bonus, the theatre also has an original 20s-era Wurlitzer Theatre organ on hand with a house organist playing classic Disney songs before the start of every show.
What kind of food do they serve inside?
The El Capitan offers all the same concessions you might find at a Loews or AMC Theatre, including popcorn, candy, soda, etc. Prices are about the same as those theatres as well, meaning a regular size popcorn and fountain drink will cost you no less than $10. With the purchase of a $25 VIP ticket, however, you get a reserved seat, as well as a voucher for a free popcorn and fountain drink.
Are there any good places to eat around there?
A few years back Disney opened a old-timey soda fountain store right next to the El Capitan, which now doubles as a gift shop. So if you're in the mood for an ice cream cone, chocolate milk shake, even a banana split, then all you need to do is walk a few steps to get it.
Aside from ice cream, however, the El Capitan is a stone's throw away from the Hollywood & Highland Center, which also has lots of good restaurants, like Grill on Hollywood, California Pizza Kitchen, and BoHo.
If you're in the mood for affordable Mexican food than Cabo Cantina is right down the street, while Musso & Frank's, located right next door to it, has been cooking up some of the best steaks in L.A. for nearly 100 years.
Where can I learn more about the El Capitan?
Any additional questions you have about the El Capitan Theatre can be answered by visiting their website at http://elcapitan.go.com.