Hollywood Attraction Discounts & Coupons

LAST UPDATE: 5/27/14

For years, the “dirty little secret” about Hollywood was that only tourists went there, and most of them regretted it! Although located close to some lovely areas of Los Angeles, Hollywood itself was a real dump, populated all-too-frequently by hustlers, pickpockets, drug addicts, con artists and panhandlers. To view the “major attractions” at the time – the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – you had to walk a gantlet of tacky souvenir stands, adult book stores and X-rated movie theaters.

Fortunately Hollywood is now significantly more pleasant than it used to be, and Disney has played a major role in the improvements. The changes started in the mid-1990s when the city of Los Angeles decided to place a stop on the new Metro Red Line subway right in the heart of Hollywood. Many local residents and city leaders were worried that making it easier to arrive in Hollywood by public transportation would only encourage more tourists to come and be disappointed. From that point on, improvement has been happening slowly but surely along the central section of Hollywood Boulevard.

The good news about Hollywood is, everything you will want to see is located within about three city blocks, with the center being Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. (The famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine has nothing to offer.) The bad news is, there’s still a seedy side to Hollywood, even in the central tourist area. Be prepared for crowds. Watch for pickpockets. Also, be aware that there are many costumed individuals, particularly in the plaza in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, who will try to get you to have your picture taken with them, and then charge you money. These people are not official, licensed or authorized to do this, so proceed with caution.

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Getting to Hollywood and Getting Around

Assuming you want to visit Hollywood in conjunction with a Disneyland vacation, there really are only two viable ways to get to there independently: driving and taking public transportation. (If you’d prefer an organized tour, see below.)

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Rental Car from Disneyland

Renting a car is a good bet. Los Angeles is a town dominated by the automobile, so traveling by car is the quintessential way to experience it.

Alamo has a location at Downtown Disney where you can pick up a car. Disneyland and central Hollywood are about 34 miles apart. Driving time to Hollywood is about 45 minutes from Disneyland, if traffic is light. (In heavy traffic, it can take up to 2 hours. Avoid rush hours: 6:00 – 9:00 am and 3:00 – 7:00 pm.)

Once you’re in Hollywood, park at Hollywood & Highland Center.

Public Transportation from Disneyland

An easy option for getting to Hollywood from Disneyland by public transportation is:

For more information about train services from the Disneyland area, click here.

MouseSavers.com reader Sean R offers these additional suggestions for using public transportation between Disneyland and Hollywood:

Public Transportation from Other Areas

The Metro Red Line Hollywood and Highland station will put you right in the middle of everything described on this page. Check the LA Metro website for detailed public transportation routing and itinerary information.

Taxis

Taking taxis in Los Angeles is a bad idea. Distances are large and fares are high. As an experiment, in 2007 we tried taking a cab from The Beverly Hilton to Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, a distance of less than 6 miles. The one-way cab fare, including a modest tip, was $29.

Organized Tours

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Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney is a family tour program offered by Disney, in which guests travel in small groups limited to 40 participants, and are led by two Disney-trained Adventure Guides. Each adventure is filled with immersive, interactive experiences you might never have tried if you were traveling on your own.

One of the Adventures by Disney vacation packages, called “Backstage Magic” or the Hollywood Family Vacation, includes a stay at Disneyland — with amazing backstage visits to Walt Disney’s Disneyland apartment and other areas most people never get to see — as well as visits to Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, The Jim Henson Company Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering and lots of other Southern California fun. The Hollywood Family Vacation is a 5-night/6-day vacation that focuses on Southern California, with 3 of those nights spent at the Disneyland Resort.

This package would be ideal for first-time visitors to California who want to see more than just Disneyland. It is especially suitable for those who are not comfortable with driving the California freeways, since all of the ground transportation from place to place is provided by Disney.

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book an Adventures by Disney Hollywood Family Vacation including a visit to Disneyland, please contact a Disney Specialist travel agent.

Pacific Coast Sightseeing (Gray Line) Day Tour

Pacific Coast Sightseeing Tours & Charters (Formerly Gray Line Anaheim) offers a 10-hour tour of Los Angeles and Hollywood, departing from Anaheim. Experience the highlights of Los Angeles during this one-of-a kind tour.

Tour includes: Los Angeles, Olvera Street, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Sunset Strip, Farmers Market and The GROVE, Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue.

Stops include: Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Farmers Market, The GROVE and a choice of Venice Beach or Santa Monica.

The tour is especially suitable for those who are not comfortable with driving the California freeways, since all of the ground transportation from place to place is provided.

Courtesy hotel pick-up is provided from most Anaheim, Buena Park and Garden Grove area hotels.

Regular cost is $71 for adults, $60 for children (ages 3-11).

  • Click here to print an exclusive coupon for MouseSavers.com readers: $3 off your LA/Hollywood Experience tour! Expires 6/30/14.

Multi-Attraction Passes

The Go Select Los Angeles  Hollywood Stars Package gives you access to 4 major Hollywood attractions: Universal Studios Hollywood; Madame Tussauds Hollywood; Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour with Red Line Tours (75-minute guided walking tour) and The Hollywood Museum. You’ll save 22% off the retail price of visiting these attractions separately!

You can combine two Hollywood attractions with two of LA’s most well-known movie studio visits with the Top Los Angeles Attractions Package by Go Select. This package includes Madame Tussauds Hollywood and a Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour with the Warner Bros. Studio VIP Tour and Universal Studios Hollywood. Note: the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is only available for people ages 8 and above.

Hollywood Stars or Top Los Angeles Attractions Passes – Exclusive MouseSavers Discount!

Note: This code can be applied to any Go Select pass or package purchase, including the Go Select San Diego Pass, LA Theme Park Pass, or the SoCal Theme Park Pass.

If you plan to explore other attractions in the Los Angeles/Orange County area in addition to Hollywood, the Go Los Angeles Card gives you access to 38 Southern California attractions, including Kodak Theatre Guided Tour, The Hollywood Museum and Madame Tussauds Hollywood. Universal Studios Hollywood is included with 3, 5, and 7-day cards.

If you plan to explore other attractions in the Los Angeles/Orange County/San Diego area in addition to Hollywood, the Go San Diego Card gives you access to over 50 Southern California attractions, including Kodak Theatre Guided Tour and The Hollywood Museum.

If you want to skip the movie studios and just want to get a feel for “Hollywood,” the Hollywood CityPASS is a good deal. It includes: Madame Tussauds Hollywood; choice of Starline Tours Hollywood (2-hour narrated Movie Star Homes tour) OR Starline CitySightseeing Hop-On, Hop-Off narrated tour; Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour (60-minute guided walking tour); and choice of Dolby Theatre Guided Tour OR The Hollywood Museum.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame, created in 1960, consists of the famous bronze and terrazzo “stars” imbedded in the sidewalks along Hollywood Blvd. between Gower St. and La Brea Ave., and along Vine St. from Sunset Blvd. to Yucca St.

Bear in mind that in the central tourist area of Hollywood (around Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave.), many of the “stars” are difficult to see (much less photograph) due to the high volume of pedestrian traffic. Also, be aware that many major celebrities do not have a “star.”

Hollywood & Highland Center

Hollywood & Highland Center, opened in 2001, is now the focus of Hollywood’s revitalization. You’ll definitely want to check out the center’s over-the-top Babylon Court, inspired by D.W. Griffith’s 1916 silent film Intolerance. The two gigantic elephants and huge columns are quite amazing.

Hollywood & Highland is the home of many restaurants, a couple of nightclubs, a trendy bowling alley/restaurant/lounge called Lucky Strike Lanes, a multiplex movie theater (Chinese 6) and the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

For a reasonably-priced meal, Hollywood & Highland has quite a few options such as California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rocket’s and Hard Rock Cafe.

Hollywood & Highland is located on the north side of Hollywood Blvd., half a block west of Highland Ave.

There is a large parking structure in Hollywood & Highland Center and this is the best place to park for your explorations of Hollywood. Entrances are on Highland Ave. and Orange Ave.

  • If you plan to shop or eat at Hollywood & Highland, be sure to get an Elephant Card, since that will give you lots of discounts. The Elephant Card is FREE – just sign up and they’ll email it to you instantly!

Dolby Theatre

Dolby Theatre, new home to the Academy Awards, was opened in 2001 and was formerly known as the Kodak Theater. Most concerts, shows and other events held at Dolby Theatre are open to the general public, so if you’re going to Hollywood, check to see what’s playing during your visit.

Even if you don’t choose to attend a live show, there are some aspects of the theater anyone can enjoy. Walk through the impressive multi-story portal from Hollywood Blvd. to approach the theater, which is set back from the street. Once inside the portal, you can wander along an Awards Walk of glass plaques featuring winners of the Best Picture Oscar.

Dolby Theatre is located at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard (north side, at Hollywood & Highland Center). For information call (323) 308-6300.

30-minute guided tours of Dolby Theatre are offered seven days a week, except when there are schedule conflicts due to rehearsals or productions. Call for the current schedule and tour costs.

  • The Hollywood & Highland Elephant Card gives you $4 off admission to the Guided Tour. The card can be used for up to 4 total admissions.
  • Click here to get a coupon for $3 off adult admission to the Guided Tour.
  • Admission to the Dolby Theatre Guided Tour is included in the Go Los Angeles Card, which gives you access to 38 Southern California attractions.
  • Admission to the Dolby Theatre Guided Tour is included in the Go San Diego Card, which gives you access to over 50 Southern California attractions.
  • Admission to the Dolby Theatre Guided Tour is included in the Hollywood CityPASS, which gives you access to 4 major Hollywood attractions.

Disney’s El Capitan Theatre

Disney's El Capitan Theatre and Disney's Soda Fountain & Studio Store

The fabulous El Capitan Theatre began life in 1926 as a live theater, hosting major plays of the day. In 1942 it was converted to a movie theater. Beginning in 1989, Disney undertook a phenomenal, “museum quality” restoration of the 1,040-seat theater and added a Dolby sound system. The theater reopened under Disney’s ownership in 1991.

The El Capitan usually hosts Disney’s movie premieres. If you want to watch the latest Disney movie in style, this is the place! You’ll get a kick out of the elaborately costumed ushers.

Be sure to arrive early so that you can enjoy the pre-show, which includes live organ music performed on a giant 1920s Wurlitzer. Some movies are preceded by a full-on live stage show with characters. During the run of certain movies, special exhibits about the making of the film, sets and props, etc., are displayed in the lobby and/or basement of the theater.

The El Capitan is located at 6838 Hollywood Blvd. (south side of Hollywood Blvd, west of Highland Ave., across the street from the Chinese Theatre).

There are two movie ticket options at the El Capitan: general admission and VIP. Tickets often sell out, especially for new releases and on weekends, so buy in advance. You can order online or by calling (800) DISNEY6. There is a $2 per ticket processing fee for ordering online.

General admission tickets vary in price depending on the movie showing, but average $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and children. General admission tickets provide open seating only (no reserved seats).

VIP tickets also vary in price depending on the movie showing — typically $26 per person (no discounts for kids or seniors). VIP tickets entitle you to reserved seats in the center section of the theater and include a bucket of popcorn and a 20 oz drink. If you have VIP tickets, you do not have to wait in the long general admission line to get into the theater. In our opinion, the VIP tickets are worth the extra money.

  • Park at Hollywood & Highland and get your parking ticket validated in the lobby of the El Capitan. With the validation parking is just $2 for up to 4 hours.
  • Groupon, LivingSocial and Goldstar often have deals on General Admission tickets for the El Capitan. If you don’t care about getting VIP tickets, might as well save a couple bucks!
  • If you have a group of 20 or more, call (818) 845-3110 to get the group rate, which can be up to 33% off.

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and Disney Studio Store

Interior of Disney's Soda Fountain

Located next door to El Capitan Theatre, Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and Disney Studio Store makes a nice addition to any outing to Hollywood. The atmosphere is fun and the menu is simple – ice cream cones, sundaes, shakes, malts, freezes, phosphates and old-time flavored sodas, plus a few basic food items like grilled cheese, hot dogs and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Prices are pretty reasonable considering the location and surroundings: you can get a nice big sundae for $7.95.

Timing is everything here. We were fortunate enough to arrive midway through a movie showing at the El Capitan, and had no problems being seated immediately. As soon as the movie let out, however, the line to get into the Soda Fountain was halfway down the block. So if you just want ice cream, be sure to check the movie times and plan your visit accordingly.

The adjacent Studio Store itself isn’t anything too exciting – just the usual Disney plush toys, videos and souvenirs at inflated prices.

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and Disney Studio Store is located at 6834 Hollywood Blvd. (southwest corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave., next to Disney’s El Capitan Theatre).

The Chinese Theatre

One of the most opulent of the city’s old movie palaces, TCL Chinese Theatre originally opened in 1927 as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Probably the most famous landmark in Hollywood, it still has the power to amaze. The forecourt in front of the theater is well-known for its handprints and footprints of movie stars, while the 90-foot tall theater itself is an wacky, “only in LA” architectural marvel. A replica of this theater houses The Great Movie Ride in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

The Chinese Theatre is located at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. (north side, just west of Highland, across from Disney’s El Capitan Theatre).

  • Backstage tours of the Chinese Theatre are offered 7 days a week. Call (323) 463-9576 or see the website for tour times and prices.
  • The Hollywood & Highland Elephant Card gives you buy one, get one FREE admission to the backstage tour. The card can be used for up to 4 total admissions.
  • If you just want to see the interior, you can attend a movie at regular movie theater prices. However, be careful to pick whatever movie is playing in the actual Chinese Theatre itself. It has only one screen. There is an adjacent theater called the Chinese 6, which is a new multiplex — nothing special to see there.  Call (323) 461-3331 or see the website for showtimes.

Egyptian Theatre

One of the most amazing movie palaces in Los Angeles, the Egyptian Theatre (built in 1922) has been nicely renovated to its old glory. It is operated by a non-profit organization, the American Cinematheque, which shows art films, documentaries and classics on its giant screen.

The Egyptian Theatre is located at 6712 Hollywood Blvd. (south side of Hollywood Blvd. about a block and a half east of the Chinese Theatre). Recorded program information is available by calling (323) 466-3456.

Private group tours of the Egyptian Theatre can be scheduled by calling (323) 461-2020. Groups must be 10 or more people, but sometimes individuals can join a scheduled group tour, so if you don’t have 10 people, call and ask if there is a tour coming up.

Pig ‘N Whistle Pig N Whistle logo

Pig ‘N Whistle is a bar/restaurant next door to the Egyptian Theatre. Back in the early days, movie theaters did not have concession stands. Typically a “lunch counter” or “soda fountain” style restaurant would open up next door, so people could eat meals or snacks before and after the movies. Pig ‘N Whistle opened next to the Egyptian in 1927 for exactly that reason.

Eventually Pig ‘N Whistle had a chain of restaurants next to theaters, and in fact there was once another Pig ‘N Whistle right down the street next to the El Capitan, in the location now occupied by Disney’s Soda Fountain.

The pigs in the Pig ‘N Whistle logo look quite a bit like Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs and it’s been suggested that they might have influenced Disney’s animators.

The Pig ‘N Whistle of today is a 2001 recreation of the original restaurant on the same spot, which was closed and gutted out in 1952. These days it’s mainly a hipster bar that also serves mediocre food, but it’s fun to see what an old-time restaurant of this type would have looked like.

Pig ‘N Whistle is located at 6714 Hollywood Blvd.

Snow White Cafe

Snow White Cafe, which opened in 1946, has a Snow White mural inside over the door that was supposedly painted by Disney animators. There is other Snow White artwork in the cafe as well, but only the mural claims a direct connection with Disney. There are are at least three stories behind the origins of the mural, but unfortunately none of them add up completely:

Story #1: Disney’s animators ate breakfast at the cafe every morning and painted the mural as a thank you to the owner. This doesn’t ring true since the current Walt Disney Studios location, which opened in 1940, is in Burbank, about 5 miles away, and prior to that, Disney’s studio was on Hyperion Avenue, 4.5 miles from the cafe. There were many, many other places where the animators could have eaten breakfast much closer to work!

Story #2: Walt himself opened the cafe because he couldn’t get good coffee near the studio. This is not believable for the same reasons as Story #1.

Story #3: Gregory Paul Williams’ The Story of Hollywood claims, “After the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Carthay Circle, Disney opened the film at the Vogue. For the party afterward, a friend offered a recently purchased shop he was remodeling into a restaurant. Disney sent Josh Meador and other animators over to paint murals of the Snow White characters on the walls and on the ceiling canvas, creating the Snow White Cafe.” This seems odd since the movie premiered in 1937 and the cafe is supposed to have opened in 1946. However, the building itself dates to 1928 and I’ve seen a photo showing that the space occupied by the cafe was originally a shop. The Vogue Theatre, which is no longer a movie house, is about 2 blocks from the cafe and it opened in 1935, so Snow White may have played there.

The mural does look very Disney-like and it seems probable that there is some kind of long-ago Disney connection, since Disney — which is notorious for enforcing its copyrights and trademarks — has never forced the owners to remove the characters from the walls or change the name of the cafe. In fact, in the early days the cafe was called “Snow White Waffle Shop” and featured a picture of Disney’s Snow White on the menu, with a Walt Disney Productions copyright notice next to the graphic.

These days, Snow White Cafe is more a “dive bar” than a restaurant. It serves meals, but we understand the food is not particularly good. The big attraction (besides the mural) is a 34-oz beer for $7 during Happy Hour.

Snow White Cafe is very close to Hollywood & Highland, on the north side of the street at 6769 Hollywood Blvd.

Musso & Frank Grill

For a true “Old Hollywood” dining experience, the only choice is Musso & Frank Grill, which opened in 1919 and moved to its current location in 1937. Musso & Frank is an expensive chop house with a décor seemingly unchanged since its original opening: red leather booths and lots of dark wood. It’s so “old school” it didn’t even have a website until recently.

Tourists come here, but so do locals who have been eating here for 60 years or more, and occasionally movie stars. The waiters are a trip. Some of them seem to have been working here since the place opened, and while they are super-professional, they tend to be cranky.

Everything, including side dishes, is sold a la carte at Musso & Frank. Order old-fashioned things like martinis, shrimp cocktail, steak and potatoes – this place does not deal in “California cuisine.” They’ve been serving the same stuff since 1919 and if it was good enough for Orson Welles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, it’s darn well good enough for you. (We can’t say for certain whether Walt Disney ever ate here, but it’s extremely likely.)

Expect to pay $60-$100 for dinner for two. Paid parking is behind the restaurant, and you enter through the back.

Musso & Frank is located at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. (northwest corner of Hollywood & Cherokee, about 3 blocks east of Highland Ave.). Call (323) 467-7788 for reservations. Closed Sunday and Monday.

The Hollywood Museum

Located in the renovated Max Factor Building (a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture), The Hollywood Museum features four floors of Hollywood exhibits, including displays on Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe and Mae West, as well as costumes and props from a few films including Moulin Rouge and Silence of the Lambs.

Naturally there is a significant focus on makeup impresario Max Factor and the way he invented the “look” of many famous stars of yesteryear: there’s a whole floor devoted to his color theories. A photo gallery gives you a chance to enjoy “Old Hollywood,” with pictures of long-lost movie-star hangouts like The Brown Derby and the Trocadero Ballroom. Special exhibitions are sometimes offered.

No photography is allowed in the museum and they will hold your camera at the entrance.

The Hollywood Museum is located at 1660 N. Highland Ave. (just south of Hollywood Blvd.). For information, hours and current admission prices call (323) 464-7776.

  • Admission to The Hollywood Museum is included in the Go Select Los Angeles Hollywood Stars Package — also included are 3 other major Hollywood attractions: Universal Studios Hollywood; Madame Tussauds Hollywood; and a Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour with Red Line Tours (75-minute guided walking tour). You’ll save 25% off the retail price of visiting these attractions separately.
  • Admission to The Hollywood Museum is included in the Go Los Angeles Card, which gives you access to 38 Southern California attractions.
  • Admission to The Hollywood Museum is included in the Go San Diego Card, which gives you access to over 50 Southern California attractions.
  • Admission to The Hollywood Museum is included in the Hollywood CityPASS, which gives you access to 4 major Hollywood attractions.

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

At Madame Tussauds Hollywood, you can see life-sized wax figures of movie stars, Hollywood icons, movie characters, pop stars, sports stars, movie directors and TV stars.

Madame Tussauds is located right next to the Chinese Theatre, at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard.

  • Click here to print a Visit California coupon for $8 off Adult or Child Madame Tussauds admissions. Good for up to 6 admissions. Expires 12/31/14.
  • The Hollywood & Highland Elephant Card gives you $5 off Madame Tussauds admission. The card can be used for up to 6 total admissions.
  • Admission to Madame Tussauds is included in the Go Los Angeles Card, which gives you access to 40 Southern California attractions.
  • Admission to Madame Tussauds in included in the Go Select Los Angeles  Hollywood Stars Package along with access to 3 other major Hollywood attractions: Universal Studios Hollywood; Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour with Red Line Tours (75-minute guided walking tour) and The Hollywood Museum. You’ll save 25% off the retail price of visiting these attractions separately!
  • Admission to Madame Tussauds is included in the Top Los Angeles Attractions Package by Go Select. This package also includes the Warner Bros. Studio VIP Tour and Universal Studios Hollywood plus a Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour. Note: the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is only available for people ages 8 and above.
  • Admission to Madame Tussauds is included in the Hollywood CityPASS, which gives you access to 4 major Hollywood attractions.