Saturday at the El Cap

Every Saturday and sometimes Sunday, I spend serious quality time with two of my grandchildren; Jasmine and Aiden. Jasmine is eight, Aiden six and they are both incredibly precocious. These are well-read, well-behaved kidlets. Sure every once in a while, they will pick on each other, because they ARE brother and sister. I said they were well-behaved, not non-human.

Each week, I agonize over what to do, where to take them, what the weather will be like. Can we go to the park or is it too hot? Do I have enough money for LACMA or do we use the memberships for Kidspace or the Zoo? Has it been too long between visits to the Huntington? Do we just stay home and read or watch SpongeBob? When was the last time we saw a movie and what is playing that is kid-friendly? And by kid-friendly I don’t mean obnoxious like iCarly (ick), or anything that celebrates passing gas and relies on fart jokes for the better part of the dialogue. We want STORY!

When my dear friend Ana Lydia Ochoa, approached me about maybe attending a Lion King in 3D screening at the El Capitan Theatre, I jumped at it and she was kind enough to include an extra ticket so that I didn’t have to leave the grandkids behind (you can’t take one and not the other because there WILL be blood. Human children, remember?).

I love the El Cap. I was working for Disney/ABC when it was restored and I was so thrilled that they took the time and expense to do it. It truly is a monument to the old, glamourous Hollywood when going to the cinema was something wondrous and magical. The El Cap is gorgeous. Beautiful art deco styling, the architecture is classic and the facade is always an attraction on Hollywood Boulevard. It’s elegance and history makes it stand out amongst the strange mix that is Hollywood, new strip malls, a giant white elephant (really), hotels (both seedy and new), crumbly old buildings, the big red signs of the Metro, the McDonalds down the street and the press of tourists and locals. It is gold to the dross and it shows. I remember it always being there, and even when it was shabby, it shone. I mean come on, Clark Gable graced its stage!

The kids were excited all week. I had told Marissa we were going to see The Lion King in 3D and they were stoked. On a night they were acting up, she dangled it and like magic, their room was clean. Ana Lydia was now dubbed St. Ana and the week dragged on for the kids.

Saturday I headed over and they were already running out the door. It was early yet, so I got Aiden to actually wash his neck (he’s a six year old boy) and re-combed Jasmine’s hair (she did it herself and it looked great but was a little loose. Grammy’s have magic for fixing hair-dos). Anabel (their other grandmother) and I made them eat because they were too excited for lunch. Only the threat of not going got them to eat a decent meal. Finally, we were off.

We took the bus from Eagle Rock to Hollywood and they were good all the way there. Aiden made the observation that we had traversed “different worlds Grammy”. I told you they were precocious. We got out of the bus at the Hollywood and Vine stop and took the escalators down into the belly of the city for the red line to Hollywood and Highland. Aiden was thrilled. He loves the train.  The kids always have me take pictures of the various subway stations around L.A. because the art is different in each.  Hollywood and Vine is all about the movies, while Hollywood and Highland is an sleek art deco/spacey design.

Coming up from the subway at Hollywood and Highland is total madness. There are people EVERYWHERE. It’s seriously nuts and while normally, I kind of love it; with two small children, it freaks me out. We have big time rules and we lock arms and don’t let go. At the El Capitan, the press of people was amazing. There was a line round the block for general admission and the place where we were supposed to go in was packed as well, but incredibly organized. Go Ana! The kids were kind of stunned to get gift bags and I was stunned that they didn’t immediately open them on the spot. Cameras were everywhere and one trained right on Aiden, who being the ham he is, immediately mugged for his shot.

We saw Ana Lydia and got our tickets and proceeded into the theatre. The kids were agog. They loved the decor, the ambiance, everything and of course, Rafiki being there to do photo ops was killer. They just about fainted. THEN there was free popcorn and soda! Now they were seriously in heaven.

We got to our seats and settled in. Jasmine kept commenting on the architecture and Aiden was thrilled with the organist. They were both entranced with the curtains lifting and then out came Timor singing Hakuna Matata. By then, the kids were on their feet clapping. They were completely transported even before the movie started. When it did, they fell in love. They’d seen the movie before hundreds of times on DVD and know the story be heart, but they’d never seen it on the big screen before and certainly not in 3D. Normally, I think 3D is overdone, but in this case; it worked. The children were mesmerized and they felt they were IN the movie. It was an amazing experience for them.

When we came out of the theatre, we ran into Ana Lydia again and when she asked if they liked the movie, two little kids hurled themselves at her and hugged her tight.

I think that was a resounding yes.

*Full disclosure.  Tickets were free, popcorn and soda were free courtesy of Time Warner Cable and Disney Family Movies.  The wonder was all belonging to my grandkids.  

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