Back in 1989 Disney purchased and refurbished a historic theater that first opened in 1926 as a legitimate live stage venue. This theater had fallen into major disrepair. This beautiful theater had housed live stage shows in the late 20’s and 30’s. It was the only place willing to premier Citizen Kane back in the 1941 and that started it’s run as a movie house with that movie. It houses a working old Wurlitzer Grand Organ! The Disney Company restored the building’s interior to as near the original design as they could. They installed modern lighting and stage equipment and before most shows they have a live show with Disney characters. This is an amazing place to see a Disney movie and often includes a display of props and costumes in the rooms below the theater. Going to the El Capitan is like going on a trip back in time to the Glory Days of Hollywood in the 1930’s-40’s. Disney later added The Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store next to the El Capitan so guests could enjoy a meal before or after the movie and purchase items themed with Disney and/or the movie they came to see. Ticket prices at this theater are on average with the other local movie theaters but they also offer options for purchasing a VIP reserved seat that comes with a soda and popcorn. Disney primers a good number of its movies at the El Capitan.
This quaint little Soda Fountain is next door and part of the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood California. It opened in 2005. It shares the street with famous neighbors such as the Mann’s Chinese Theater with all the stars foot prints and autographs outside in the cement. The Kodak Theater, home to the Academy Awards is directly across the street next to the Chinese. This area is rich in history and deeply tied to movie magic and history. This is the center of “Tinsel Town”. It’s right down the street from Hollywood and Vine! Be aware when going to Hollywood the tinsel of “Tinsel Town” has gotten tarnished and lost its shine over the years. The stars on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” are cracked and covered in dirt and gum. That said the area in front of Disney Soda Fountain & Studio Store and El Capitan Theater is the cleanest and some of the best maintained in town.
Standing outside the Soda Fountain you are drawn by the whimsical window displays. The window displays changes with the current movie in the theater and DVD release. Look around as check out the stars in front of the location. Tinker Bell just got her Star last month to celebrate her new movie! There is a walk up window that is not open often where you can order food to go. When not open it is a great place to get you picture taken with Mickey Mouse!
Once inside the Soda Fountain & Studio Store you are inside the magic of Disney. The feel of the restaurant is mid 1950’s. You can ask for a seat in a booth, at a table or take a seat at the counter. There looks to be a Disney Vault near the roof in one corner. Coming out of the vault is a film strip with single frames from different Disney movies of the past. The food is fresh and cooked to order at a fair price. They have a special treat for Pin Trading fanatics. It is the Pin Traders Sunday. It is 2 scoops of your favorite Ice Cream with Hot Fudge, Marshmallow Topping and Mickey shaped sprinkles. This wonderful treat comes with a surprise limited edition pin! The cost of the Sunday is the same as the cost for the pin alone so this is a great deal for any Pin Trader with a sweet tooth and a love of Ice Cream.
When possible the Soda Fountain teams up with the El Capitan and offers a special meal deal with a meet and great along with a ticket to the movie. These tickets are pricy but come with many advantages. These seats are reserved and you purchase a ticket for the seat of your choice and don’t have to stand in line hoping to get a good seat. For the recent release of Alice in Wonderland they had Tea Parties where Alice and her friends would come visit while guests had tea before or after the movie.
A part of the Soda Fountain is the Disney Studio Store. It takes up about 1/4 of the actual space and has items that are unique to this location. There are cups, aprons, Disney plush toys and special limited edition pins. Most of these pins are limited to 300 and are often themed to go with the movie that is playing in the theater. They also sell some hard to find Disney movies on DVD and BluRay.
So if you are in the Hollywood area and wish a Disney fix stop by the Disney Soda Fountain and get yourself a bite to eat or stop and look at what they have in the store.
Around the Disney owned Soda Fountain and El Capitan are plenty of other things related to Disney. Here are some of the Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that are within two blocks.
Over the years many people have placed their foot prints at the Mann’s Chinese Theater just across and down the street from the El Capitan. Here are a few that have ties to Disney.