The casino is one of Avalon’s most recognizable and famous landmarks. It sits on a point at the edge of the harbor on on the way to the Descanso Beach Club. It is not a casino as in gambling but rather refers to an Italian term as a ‘place of gathering’.
Two tiny rock hills, called Sugarloaf originally stood on this site – the larger one was removed to make way for the original casino and later the second one was also removed as it hindered the view of the harbor. Materials from the original casino was used to construct new buildings in a canyon near Avalon; it is now the site of a pre-school. The present-day casino dates from 1929.
There is an excellent walkway that leads from the main town of Avalon to the casino. It parallels a small road for the golf carts and also the harbor. From the green pier in central Avalon, it is a 10 minute walk or less to the Casino.
One of the most impressive historic movie theatres we have ever been to is contained within the walls of the building. Ornately decorated walls contain large paintings and murals. This is a sizable theatre. Movies play here nightly; before the movie begins an organist plays approximately an hour of tunes on a historic organ located just below the stage. This was one of the earliest theatres to host talking films.
Audiences love this and give him a healthy ovation after each piece. As you walk out of the theatre above the central door – note the neat faces, one smiling, and one grimacing. Perhaps these represent the ying and yang of movie goers – either you enjoyed a film or your do not!
A beautiful large ballroom is located on the upper level of the building – this has been the venue for numerous performances over the years (and continues to be used in this capacity). Ronald Reagan was actually discovered by Hollywood while announcing in this building – and then invited for an acting tryout in one of the studios in Los Angeles.
A Behind the Scenes tour is offered daily and is highly recommended. Small groups tour the inside of the building including being able to stand on stage (and vocally test it’s acoustics should you wish). You also get to visit the Green Rooms, see the projection equipment and visit other rooms that are generally off limits to the general public.
A number of golden era Hollywood celebs have come through this building, either as performers or as part of the audience. During the tour you will see photos of John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe among others. Reservations are highly recommended, to book your tour click here.