The Top 10 Must Sees & Hidden Gems of Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo courtesy of Candice Montgomery, Flickr

Walt Disney Concert Hall became a Los Angeles icon the moment it opened its doors to the public on October 22, 2003. Located on Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., the concert hall seats over 2,200 people and is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, with acoustics by Yasuhisa Toyota, Walt Disney Concert Hall has received worldwide critical acclaim and praise from concertgoers for its stunning architecture and extraordinary sound.

We present this guide to ten must sees and hidden gems at the world-class concert venue.

1. Concerts

Gustavo Dudamel | Photo courtesy of LA Phil, Facebook

The 2014-15 season features a series of special concerts that cover a wide range of music from many different periods. The festivities begin on Tuesday, Sept. 30 with the Opening Night Concert & Gala, featuring special guest Itzhak Perlman and the music of John Williams. The famed violinist joins L.A. conductor Gustavo Dudamel for a night of music sure to dazzle. Itzhak Perlman and John Williams' work together has garnered both Oscars and Grammys for movies such as Schindler's List.

For detailed information on the concerts at Walt Disney Hall - featuring some of the world’s great performers from classical, jazz, world music and more - visit the 2014-15 calendar at www.laphil.com/tickets/calendar-fullseason/2014.

2. Pipe Organ

Photo by Federico Zignani, courtesy of LA Phil

A star in its own right, the pipe organ is as renowned and groundbreaking as the rest of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Architect Frank Gehry worked with organ builders Manuel Rosales and Caspar Von Glatter-Gotz to create the organ’s unconventional design. The organ’s striking wooden pipes - normally hidden on most organs - are prominently displayed to create a visual connection with the auditorium’s walls and ceilings, which are made of Douglas fir. The organ's pipes are curved, another unique design element.

To experience the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ in its full glory, attending one or all of the concerts in the Organ Recital Series is a must. For tickets and info, visit www.laphil.com/tickets/series-detail/organ-recital.

3. Tours

Walt Disney Concert Hall interior | Photo courtesy of Diana Lee Photography, Flickr

Visitors can explore Walt Disney Concert Hall on a self-guided audio tour or a guided tour. Audio tours are the most comprehensive way to explore the hall and are offered most days. The self-guided audio tour takes visitors through the concert hall’s history, from conception to completion. Narrated by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor John Lithgow, the audio tour includes insights from architect Frank Gehry and other key contributors. Docents take visitors on guided tours through much of the interior space and throughout the gardens while presenting highlights of the spectacular building.

NOTE: because of a nearly-constant rehearsal, performance and special event schedule, tours of the Walt Disney Concert Hall do not include the auditorium.

4. The Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery

Located on the second floor of Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery is a hidden gem designed by Hodgetts + Fung. The gallery rotates its collection biannually, and is open to visitors who are on a tour or attending a performance inside the concert hall.

5. A Rose for Lilly - Blue Ribbon Garden

"A Rose for Lilly" in the Blue Ribbon Garden | Photo by Daniel Djang

The Blue Ribbon Garden is the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s rooftop garden. Nearly an acre in size, the garden is tucked beneath the hall’s gleaming exterior and filled with lush landscaping that blooms throughout the year. One of the garden’s highlights is A Rose for Lilly, the Frank Gehry-designed fountain that pays tribute to the late Lillian Disney and her love for Royal Delft porcelain vases and roses. The fountain is a large rose that’s covered in thousands of broken pieces of Delft porcelain and tiles, creating a one-of-a-kind mosaic. The Blue Ribbon Garden often serves as a backdrop to pre- and post-theater receptions, private events and children’s programming.

There are organic herbs, forage foods and edible flowers throughout the Blue Ribbon Garden that are maintained by the chefs of Patina (see below). The restaurant has created a handy guide, available at the restaurant or as a downloadable PDF.

6. W.M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheatre

Audience at a World City puppet show | Photo courtesy of The Music Center, Facebook

The W.M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheatre is a hidden gem located on the rooftop of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, adjacent to the Blue Ribbon Garden. The 350-seat outdoor amphitheatre hosts family-friendly performances and participatory arts and culture events such as drum circles and sing-alongs. The Music Center’s World City series features international artists sharing their culture through dance, music, song and storytelling. Art-making workshops for children are offered in the Blue Ribbon garden following the performances.

7. REDCAT

Photo courtesy of REDCAT, Facebook

Located inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) is a multi-media arts center for innovative visual, performing and media arts. Since its opening in November 2003, REDCAT has garnered praise for showcasing up-and-coming artists, and for introducing groundbreaking, internationally-renowned artists and exhibitions to L.A. audiences. REDCAT features a 3,000-square-foot gallery space with revolving exhibitions, a flexible black box theater, and a lounge cafe/bar that hosts public forums.

8. Patina

Beef short rib | Photo courtesy of Patina, Facebook

Patina is the flagship restaurant of acclaimed chef Joachim Splichal, located off Grand Avenue on the street level of Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Relais & Châteaux restaurant offers French-California seasonal tasting menus, gourmet cheeses, caviar service, and an award-winning wine list. Foodists seeking the epitome of West Coast luxury dining will love Patina's elegant al fresco dining, stylish late night cocktail bar and impeccable service.

9. LA PHIL Store

Whether you’re visiting the Walt Disney Concert Hall on a tour or attending a concert, a souvenir from the LA PHIL Store is a must. Located on the lobby level of the hall, the LA PHIL Store sells everything from coffee mugs to a $1,500 Frank Gehry-designed table set. The LA PHIL Store is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The store is also open during and following evening concerts. The LA PHIL Store is closed in observance of all national holidays.

10. Private Events & Weddings

Wedding reception | Photo by Drew Bittel, courtesy of Platinum Weddings by Kerrie, Facebook

Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the best venues in L.A. for private events and weddings. Numerous event spaces are available, both indoors and outside. An unforgettable wedding ceremony can take place in the romantic Blue Ribbon Garden, or you can host a seated dinner gala inside the striking architecture of the Founders Room or BP Hall. The magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall auditorium can also be rented for an audience of 2,252 guests. For more information, visit www.musiccenter.org/about/Event-Rentals/Venue-Rentals.

L.A. is a city of stories. Not just screenplays and novels. But real life stories that can only happen in L.A. A close encounter with dolphins. A brush with a celebrity. A cupcake from a vending machine. It could be an event, an exhibit, a song. But the moment it happens, you can’t wait to tell everyone back home about it. What's your L.A. story?