Touring the Catalina Island Casino

After visiting the Catalina Island Museum I knew I had to take a look around the rest of the Casino. Luckily, I was there just in time to grab a spot on a Behind the Scenes tour.

casino building

The Casino was built in 1929 and looks very much the same as it did on opening day. The island has maintained continuous operation of the building for all these years and has never let it fall into disrepair. It’s an amazing time capsule of both California and Art Deco history.

casino building

The one thing this building is often mistaken for is, well, a casino! There’s actually no gambling on the premises. In the traditional sense of the word a casino is a meeting place. Only in the modern era has it become synonymous with gambling. So instead of roulette tables and slot machines this casino has a movie theatre and ballroom.

casino building

The Avalon Theatre is downstairs and it is a beauty. It’s a true movie palace.

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Since this was a behind the scenes tour we were able to go backstage.

backstage lighting stage lights wurlizter

Because the building is so well preserved it has all it’s original pieces including the stage rigs, the electrical panel, the footlights, and the Wurlitzer Organ. In fact, it is the only theatre that still retains it’s original organ in the very same spot it was installed in!

seats theatre theatre theatre theatre

And because it was built in 1929, it’s oh so Deco! These pictures don’t really do justice to the amazing John Gabriel Beckman murals that line the walls. And do you see the stars on the ceiling? Well, when the lights go down they twinkle and the ceiling is like the night sky.

One unique aspect to the theatre is a private screening room. This room was made for the Wrigley family who built the casino.

wrigley screening roomwrigley screening roomwrigley screening roomwrigley screening room

After exploring the theatre we headed upstairs to check out the ballroom. On the way, we stopped in the dressing rooms which are still used to this day.

dressing room dressing room

Then we came into the ballroom which just about took my breath away. It is simply stunning.

casino ballroom casino ballroom casino ballroom casino ballroom

Isn’t it amazing! In the Big Band Era this was a happening spot for a night of dancing. Every band you could think of stopped here and played. Today, it continues as an entertainment venue hosting jazz bands, weddings, and the occasional ball. My goal is to one day attend a function here.

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When I do, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it!

Casino Building

1 Casino Way

Avalon, CA 90704

1 Comment

  1. Shannon February 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Can’t wait to visit! Art Deco Weekend, here I come!

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