1 Jan 2022
Catalina Island's iconic waterfront masterpiece!
From its regal setting at the north end of Avalon Harbor, this dramatic circular building has stood as a welcoming sentinel since just before the Great Depression. The impressive art deco masterpiece was the dream of by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., who bought controlling interest of Catalina Island in 1919. Wrigley saw the casino as a way of casting a magical spell on all who arrived—a way of seeming to say, “look, here is beauty, relaxation, and fun,” and a way to—for at least a little while—escape the country’s troubled times.
Inside, Wrigley hosted lavish dances and performances. Today, the tradition continues, as the elaborate ballroom is home to several annual events. One of the two guided walking tours is a must, where you will learn about the building, Avalon’s history and Hollywood connection. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour lets you peek into dressing rooms that had been closed for 70 years, and to walk on the stage where famed musicians like Benny Goodman played to adoring fans.
You’ll marvel at the soaring hand-painted murals that grace the entry way of this architectural masterpiece. Created by John Gabriel Beckman, whose work also adorns Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Casino’s murals depict the history of Catalina’s cultural evolution.
Built in 1929 near the end of the Silent Era, Avalon Theatre was among the first in the world to be designed specifically for “Talkies.” It has been fully restored to its original grandeur, complete with solid black walnut panels, Art Deco furniture, Tiffany-esque lights and gold-leaf accents. The amazing acoustics produced by the theatre’s 50-foot domed ceiling were studied and replicated by designers of New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
The theatre’s original pipe organ, one of the last of its kind, was built, shipped and installed by the Page Organ Company of Lima, Ohio. You can hear a performance on this historic organ on Fridays and Saturdays, one hour before the start of the theatre’s weekly feature.
Above the theatre, the Casino’s world-famous ballroom once hosted thousands of dancers grooving to the sounds of big band music. Be sure to step out on the Romance Promenade that encircles the ballroom for some of the most spectacular views of Avalon
Buy Casino Tour tickets here.