Walt Disney Concert Hall Review
The Walt Disney Concert Hall building became a Los Angeles icon the moment it opened, appearing as a defining backdrop in films released only months later. Designed by Los Angeles architect Frank O. Gehry, this modern building's sinuous curves and soaring architecture are so seductive that it tempts even those who dislike classical music to attend the symphony just to enjoy the auditorium's beauty.
Open All Day
Nothing about the Walt Disney Concert Hall is typical, from its cutting-edge architecture to the way it's run. While most concert halls are closed to the public unless there's a performance going on, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is open all day long and anyone can go inside and have a look around.
Touring the Walt Disney Concert Hall
A wander around the innovative structure, especially with a camera in hand, is time well spent, but to learn more about what goes into the making of such a place, take one of these organized tours:
- Self-Guided Audio Tour: This self-paced Walt Disney Concert Hall tour includes insights from architect Frank Gehry, Diane Disney Miller (daughter of principal donor Lillian Disney) and others involved in its design and construction. These tours are complimentary as long as your group is less than 15 people.
- Guided Tour: 60-minute guided tour offers architectural and garden highlights.
- Symphonian Four-Theatre Tour: A 90-minute tour that takes visitors through all four venues at the Music Center: The Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Tours don't include the Walt Disney Concert Hall auditorium because of a busy rehearsal, performance and event schedule. To get inside, you'll have to buy a ticket to one of those performances.
Performances at the Disney Concert Hall
The architecture is so splendid that it's easy to forget that the building was designed as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the world's top-rated orchestras according to a survey of music critics published by British publication Gramophone, making the concert-goer's experience into treat both visual and auditory.
The concert hall, finished in warm-colored Douglas fir wood features the same fluid shapes as the building's exterior and Gehry's favored convex curve shapes are good for the sound, bouncing it around to fill the hall. It seems that no sound is too loud and at the same time, everything can be heard down to the most earnestly muffled cough. In fact, shortly after the opening, the LA Times reported that the new concert hall revealed decades-old errors in the symphony's musical scores that were impossible to hear before.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic puts on a full schedule of performances, but symphony isn't the only music to be heard. Besides other classic concerts, popular performers like Natalie Cole, Michael Feinstein and Winton Marsalis appear there.
Ticket prices vary by performance, with full orchestra concerts being the most expensive - and among them, the ones led by charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel sell out fastest. Discounts are almost impossible to find, but if seats are available and you're more than 65 years old or a full-time high school or college student who can show a valid ID, you may be able to get "rush" tickets for a steep discount by showing up at the box office two hours before select performances.
Details About the Disney Concert Hall
- Hours: Tours offered daily, hours vary
- Reservations: Reservations recommended for concerts
- Cost: No admission fee to walk in and look around, most concerts charge admission but tours are complimentary for groups of 14 or fewer
- Location: Downtown Los Angeles, driving directions below
- How Long: Allow about two hours to take the tour and explore
- Best Time to Visit: Unlike most buildings of its type, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is open to the public even when there are no performances going on, so you can visit at any time
Getting to Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA
Walt Disney Concert Hall website
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is on the north side of downtown Los Angeles in the Music Center complex, near the intersection of I-110 and US Hwy 101. Its prominent location makes it easily visible from many directions, and it may be easiest to find it by looking for it and following signs from the freeway. However, you can find detailed driving directions from all approaches at the Walt Disney Concert Hall website.
Street parking is very limited. You can park in underground public lots at the Walt Disney Concert Hall or the Music Center across the street, but the Department of Water and Power lot on Hope Street is often less expensive and just as convenient.
How about avoiding the driving altogether? Use the Metro Rail system trip planner to find out how to do it.