Seeing a movie at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is always a special experience, from Rob Richard's Mighty Wurlitzer performance before the show to that magical curtain reveal. But sometimes they go out of their way to make the pre-show experience extra special and I have to say, I've never seen anything like the experience of seeing Pixar's Coco at this grand movie palace.
At weekend performances through December 10th, guests are entertained by The Mariachi Divas, a Grammy Award Winning band that begins their set as the theater doors open. They are joined by Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles who dance to their music. Their set is mostly comprised of Mexican standards, but also includes "Remember Me" from the film.
A delightful surprise for parents and Disney fans alike, The Mariachi Divas invited kids to join the dancers on stage for a round of "it's a small world." The microphone was passed around so that the kids could sing as they danced on the stage and posed for a photo op. It was a really special moment for all of the families involved.
An unadvertised element was that the background behind the performers came to life after their set through the use of projection mapping technology. Set to score from the film, the audience was surrounded by swirling lights and projections in what the El Cap calls a "fiesta of lights." If you didn't already feel like you were in the world of Coco, the curtain show fixed that. While this wasn't the first time they've done a projected curtain show that expands into the audience, it was my first time experiencing one.
After the trailers played, a silver curtain closed in front of the screen and Olaf took the stage to introduce Olaf's Frozen Adventure. The crowed clapped along as he danced to "In Summer" and the kids really loved seeing him live on stage. While I have nothing against the short, I will say that following an authentic mariachi performance and the dazzling curtain show, it felt out of place to take a winter detour to Arendelle.
While nobody needs any added incentive to see the beautiful film that is Coco, all of these extra touches really added to the experience. Since El Capitan only plays Disney trailers (A Wrinkle in Time, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and The Incredibles 2 play with Coco), the addition of a 21-minute featurette didn't add to the runtime as significantly as it does at theaters with 20-minutes of trailers before the short. In addition, there's no finer place to experience a Disney classic in the making than at this grand Hollywood icon.
Disney fans can catch Pixar's Coco at El Capitan Theatre until Sunday, December 10th. The theatre is then occupied December 13th-15th for the sold out Star Wars marathon, leading to the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi through January 28th. All showings of The Last Jedi include a gallery of props and costumes from the film and a laser light pre-show. Select performances will also include a Stormtrooper meet-and-greet. For more information, check out the full press release.