The Disney History of The El Capitan Theatre

Disney History

El Capitan and Disney Studio Store Ghirardelli Store Facade Hollywood Sunset Boulevard Los Angels

Disney owns the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood just across the street from the iconic Chinese Theatre, and they have used as a premiere house for many of their biggest films. But this theater has a complicated history during the time Disney has owned it.

Originally built in 1926, Disney would attain operation of this theatre in the 1980s, restoring it to its former glory.

The theatre itself is a massive classic single theatre movie house, with a museum dedicated to the theatre's history on the second floor and an exhibit hall in the basement that gives a place to feature film props on a constantly rotating basis.

El Capitan Theatre Auditorium Hollywood Los Angeles

Inside you will find an elaborately designed auditorium, including a historic theatre organ.

The first Disney film to premiere in this location following Disney's new deal with the theatre was The Rocketeer and it has become the most common location for Disney film premieres since then.

During the run of these shows only one film would be shown in repetition, often with special performances before the movie featuring celebrities or Disney character's appearing live on stage.

Musical groups have also been known to make appearances at showings here before the film.

But this was not without interruption. The theatre would be forced to temporarily close following a major 1994 earthquake. This earthquake flooded the theatre and caused the entire building to need massive repairs. It would reopen in 1995 with Toy Story.

Disney El Capitan Theatre Marquee Hollywood

In 1998 a Disney Store would open alongside the theatre that would eventually also evolve to include a Ghirardelli ice cream shop in the same location sharing space with the Disney Store. This location also would often offer special items related to whatever film was being shown at the time.

El Capitan Theatre Curtain Hollywood Los Angeles

The building, now earthquake safe, has become an iconic part of Disney history, and will almost certainly return to prominence following the pandemic when elaborate movie premieres are able to safely return.

El Capitan Light Tower Hollywood Los Angeles