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

Exterior of Walt Disney Concert Hall at night
Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo: Candice Montgomery, Flickr

Walt Disney Concert Hall became a Los Angeles icon the moment it opened its doors to the public on Oct. 22, 2003. Located on Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., the concert hall seats more than 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. Read on for ten must-sees and hidden gems at the world-class concert venue.

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Phil | Photo: LA Phil, Facebook

1. Concerts

Widely regarded as one of the world's great orchestras, the LA Phil is led by Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel. The global lineup of concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall ranges from legendary musicians to rising stars performing classical, jazz, world music and more. During the holidays, the Hall is filled with the joyous sounds of the season.

For detailed information on upcoming concerts and to purchase tickets, visit the LA Phil website.

Pipe organ at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Pipe organ at Walt Disney Concert Hall  |  Photo: Gustavo Turner

2. Pipe Organ

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 (Gehry nicknamed them "French fries") are curved, another unique design element.

To experience the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ in its full glory, attending one or all of the Organ Recitals is a must.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Photo: Walt Disney Concert Hall

3. Tours

Visitors can explore Walt Disney Concert Hall on self-guided or docent-led tours. They can even take an augmented reality walk through the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Offered year-round, the Self-Guided Audio Tour tells the history of WDCH from conception to completion. Narrated by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor John Lithgow, the free audio tour includes insights from architect Frank Gehry and other key contributors. Available daily from 10am to 3pm, no reservations needed.

Docents present architectural highlights of the spectacular building as they take visitors on Guided Tours through much of the interior and throughout the gardens. Tours for individuals and groups of 14 guests or fewer are free; for groups of 15 or more, pricing is $15/guest. The 60-minute tours begin in the Grand Lobby. NOTE: because of a constant rehearsal, performance and special event schedule, tours of WDCH do not include the auditorium.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS IN F# MINOR
Created by acclaimed multi-media artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller and featuring LA Phil musicians, Thought Experiments in F# Minor immerses visitors in an augmented reality experience. Guests use an iPad Mini and headphones to take a 40-minute walk through an imagined world that's hiding in plain sight at WDCH. The walk is available Monday-Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

The Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery, Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo: H+F
The Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery, Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo: H+F

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.

"A Rose for Lilly" at Walt Disney Concert Hall
"A Rose for Lilly" at Walt Disney Concert Hall  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

5. A Rose for Lilly - Blue Ribbon Garden

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.

LA Phil Toyota Symphonies for Youth
Toyota Symphonies for Youth | Photo: LA Phil

6. Toyota Symphonies for Youth

Toyota Symphonies for Youth invites children ages 5 to 11 to soak up the sounds of the LA Phil while experiencing the thrill of live performance. Come an hour early for interactive kids activities that fit the theme of each concert. Taking place inside and around WDCH, activities have included an instrument "petting zoo" in the Blue Ribbon Garden, dances in the BP hall, workshops on how to play musical instruments, and fun Q&As where kids can ask experts anything they want about music. The concert and pre-concert program run about an hour each. Activities start at 10am sharp, concert follows at 11am.

"Rosanna Tavarez: Piece X Piece" at REDCAT
"Rosanna Tavarez: Piece X Piece" | Photo: REDCAT

7. REDCAT

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.

Chef Ray Garcia
Chef Ray Garcia

8. Ray Garcia's asterid

Chef Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish, B.S. Taqueria) is opening asterid in the former Patina space at WDCH. In an interview with Eater LA, Garcia said that asterid will have a more approachable neighborhood vibe than Patina; an indoor-outdoor design with an expanded patio; and a greater focus on the bar scene. The new restaurant is currently scheduled to open in March 2022.

LA Phil 100 Years Box Set
LA Phil 100 Years Box Set | Photo: LA Phil Store

9. LA Phil Store

Located on the lobby level of WDCH, the LA Phil Store sells exclusives from coffee mugs and t-shirts to the LA Phil 100 Years Box Set. The LA Phil Store is currently open only during concerts - two hours prior to start time and 30 minutes after the concert ends.

Outdoor wedding at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Outdoor wedding in the Blue Ribbon Garden | Photo: @TheCut, Twitter
Wedding reception inside Walt Disney Concert Hall
Wedding reception inside BP Hall | Photo: @TheCut, Twitter

10. Weddings & Private Events

Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the best venues in LA for weddings and private events. Numerous event spaces are available, both indoors and outside. An unforgettable outdoor 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 WDCH auditorium can also be rented for an audience of 2,252 guests.