My Tour of the Carthay Circle Restaurant (Disney CA Adventure)
There are open tours of the Carthay Circle that are offered everyday at 1030 am. I was able to finally get there on time one morning the other week so I was excited to learn more about this iconic building that is located at Disney California Adventure.
The iconic Carthay Circle Theatre Restaurant and Lounge opened in 2012 on Buena Vista Street. It stands 79 feet 6 inches tall, to the top of its cupola spire, and it is approximately ¾ scale to the original Carthay Circle Theatre, the site where Walt Disney’s animated classic, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” premiered in 1937 (source. D23)
This post is strictly about the Carthay Circle Restaurant and not about the food. Saving that post for another time.
I was told to just wait outside Carthay Circle to wait so I had time to look at the exterior and notice some of the details. The faux tickets booths and marquee make it look like a theater that sits at the end of Buena Vista Street. The overall architecture is a reference to the Spanish Colonial style of the original Carthay Circle Theater that opened in Los Angeles in 1926. Look closely at the tile mural wall with the male flamenco dancer and note the Carthay Circle in the background.
Our Carthay Circle tour guide, Ryan, is a Cast Member at the restaurant. He began by telling us some history of the original Carthay Circle Theater. It was a very popular theater to host Hollywood premieres during its prime in the 1930s. It was demolished in 1969. The only thing left of that era in that area is a statute of a miner that you can still see today. It is lovingly referred to as "Dan the miner." You can see the statute in the photo below and also in that small tile mural in the front of the Carthay Circle Restaurant.
Ryan explained that while there were many photos of the original Carthay Cricle Theater on record, most of those photos were of the exterior. Imagineers had to scour the Los Angeles public library to find some photos of its interior or of similar buildings of that time. It has a very art deco design and style inside.
Here are some photos of the Carthay Circle Lounge. You do not need reservations in this area but it does get busy as it has become a popular location with many local Disneyland Annual Passholders. Don't be surprised if there is wait just to get into the lounge You'll see from these photos how cozy it is. They make some fabulous drinks and appetizer plates to make for a relaxing break from the Park. You can view some vintage photos. There is also a window where the Disney Archives has a display of some Disney vintage items.
Before going up to the second floor and the main restaurant area, Ryan points out this painting. It depicts the Donner Party, pioneers who embarked on a treacherous journey to California. The painting in the restaurant is a replica image of the curtains that was part of the original Carthay Circle Theater.
Entering the second floor, you get a view of this impressive but small hallway that leads to the main dining room.
The main dining room is supposed to be like entering a theater. The seating area is open so you can get a view of the kitchen. The kitchen is framed to look like the main stage. As you walk into the main dining room, the kitchen is the focal point.
There are several rooms on this floor in addition to balcony seating. Two small and semi-private rooms are aptly named Hyperion and Buena Vista. One of the first Walt Disney Studio had been located at the Hyperion and the current one is on Buena Vista street in Burbank, California. The Hollywood dining room has photos of Academy award winning people such as Elton John and Julie Andrews with their statues. Most of these celebs have had a working relationship with the Walt Disney Company.
The Carthay Circle is important to Disney history because Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Fantasia (1941) both premiered at this theater. Snow White alone was a huge milestone and success for Walt Disney and his company so there are many references to it. Look closely at the beautiful dining tables and you might see an image of the Evil Queen. The ceilings above replicate the scenery from Snow White.
There is one special dining room that can seat 12 people called the Premiere. It's the only room that you can reserve with $1000 deposit. A massive round dining table takes over the room. The bottom stand of the table is to look like Snow White's wishing well (my photo is terrible but I wanted you to get an idea of what it looks like).
There is this framed photo in the Premiere room that is of the first photo of Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse and the last official photo of him with his famous friend.
From the Premier room, there is a special view. Looking through the window, you can look right down into the middle of Buena Vista Street towards Disneyland. Looking closely, you can see the Main Street Train Station and Sleeping Beauty Castle. I'll have to bring my good camera next time and share some better photos next time but here you can get an idea of a very interesting view.
There is much to experience at the Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure. The daily restaurant tour, lounge, food, plus World of Color dining packages, too. If you ever get a chance to eat there, don't forget to make time to walk around and enjoy its story. Disney does details so well.