Casino Point Catalina Island

Catalina Casino
General information
TypeBallroom and movie theater
Architectural styleArt Deco, Mediterranean Revival
Town or cityAvalon,
Santa Catalina Island,
CountryUnited States
Coordinates33°20′56″N118°19′34″W / 33.34887°N 118.32601°W
Construction startedFebruary 1928
OpenedMay 29, 1929
Cost$2 million
OwnerSanta Catalina Island Company
Technical details
Structural systemround, cantileveredreinforced concrete column
Design and construction
ArchitectWalter Webber and Sumner Spaulding

The Catalina Casino is a large gathering facility located in Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles in California. Hollywood casino st. louis missouri phone number lookup. It is the largest building on the island and the most visible landmark in Avalon Bay when approaching the island from the mainland.

Avalon is a delightful and charming small town on Avalon Bay, Catalina Island — the only municipality on any of the Channel Islands. Catalina is easily accessible by ferry; helicopter service is also available. The Park lies in the shadow of the Casino building on the western end of the bay. You can check with Catalina Divers Supply to see if it's open when you'll be there by calling 1-800-353-0330. You'll find Diver Storage Lockers & Rest Rooms at the Casino as well. The Ocean access at Casino Point is extremely easy now that the steps have been added at the entry point. Local outfitters like Catalina Divers Supply offer SCUBA and snorkeling rentals, as well as guided trips and fully equipped dive boats. The Casino Point Dive Park, off Casino Point, is a justly popular dive spot; look for spiny lobsters and harmless horn sharks. For a fun alternative that’s great for adventurous kids ages eight and up, head.

The large building contains a movie theater, ballroom, and formerly an island art and history museum.[1] The Catalina Casino gets its name from the Italian language term casino, meaning a 'gathering place'. Contrary to the current common usage of casino, this has never been a facility for gambling.[2]


Tile work decorating the entrance to the Catalina Casino

The Catalina Casino was built on a site formerly known as Sugarloaf Point. The site was graded for the planned construction of the Hotel St. Catherine, which was instead eventually built in Descanso Canyon. When chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought the controlling stake in Catalina Island in 1919, he used this cleared site to build a dance hall he named Sugarloaf Casino. It served as a ballroom and Avalon's first high school, until it became too small for Avalon's growing population. In 1928, the Sugarloaf was razed to make room for a newer casino building. Sugarloaf Rock was further blasted away to enhance the Casino's ocean view.[1][2]

On May 29, 1929, the new Catalina Casino was completed under the direction of Wrigley and David M. Renton, at a cost of $2 million.[3] Its design, by Sumner Spaulding and Walter Weber, is in the Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival styles. The casino's movie theater was the first to be designed specifically for films with sound ('talkies'). It received the Honor Award from the California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, as 'one of the outstanding architectural accomplishments'.

With a height equal to a 12-story building, it was built to serve as a theater on the main floor and a ballroom and promenade on the upper level.[1][2]Movie studio moguls such as Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, and Samuel Goldwyn frequently came by yacht to the Casino to preview their newest cinema productions. It also serves as the island's civil defense shelter, large enough to accommodate Catalina's entire year-round population. Within its walls is stored enough food and water for all Avalon's residents for two weeks.[4]

The steel structure of the predecessor Sugarloaf Casino can still be found in Avalon's abandoned bird park. The bird park was conceived by Mrs. Wrigley in the 1930s, and at the time it was one of the largest aviaries in the world.

In 1993 the movie theater was photographed by Hiroshi Sugimoto for his art series 'Theatres'.[5]

In 1994, the theater underwent a $750,000 restoration that reupholstered all of its seats and cleaned its murals.[3]

In September 2008, the Catalina Casino had the first live full production of a musical on its stage, when the Santa Catalina Island Company presented Grease!.

In December 2019, The Catalina Island Company stopped screening first run showings of movies, essentially ceasing its function as a traditional film venue.[3] They cite the rise of streaming services and large use of satellite television in the small town of 4000 as contributing factors to the theater's low attendance.[3][6] However, the theater remain available for daily tours and special events such as the Catalina Film Festival and Silent Film Benefit.[7][3]



Surrounded by sea on three sides, the circular structure of the Catalina Casino is the equivalent of 12 stories tall. It has a movie theater on the first level and a ballroom on the top level. The building interiors were decorated in the Art Deco style, including with sterling silver and gold-leaf accents.

Movie theater[edit]

Stage of Avalon Theatre

The Avalon Theatre is a movie theater on the first level, with a seating capacity of 1,154.[8] It has a single massive screen.[9] The theater has its original 4-manual, 16 rank pipe organ built by the Page Organ Company of Lima, Ohio.[8]

The theater is sound insulated so that patrons do not hear the band or up to 3,000 dancers in the ballroom above. The circular domed ceiling has notable acoustics and has been studied by acoustical designers, due to its repute. A speaker on the theater stage can speak in a normal voice without a microphone and be heard clearly by all in attendance.

The theater's interior walls retain the original Art Deco murals by John Gabriel Beckman. The theater's facade had a painted mural of an Art Deco-style underwater world scene, which was later replaced with replications of Beckman's design created in Catalina Pottery-style tiles. The lobby has walnut wood paneling.


The upper-level houses the 20,000-square-foot Catalina Casino Ballroom. It is the world's largest circular ballroom, with a 180-foot (55 m) diameter dance floor that can accommodate 3,000 dancers.[1] French doors encircle the room connecting the dance floor with the Romance Promenade, an open balcony that runs around the building.

To reach the ballroom on the top level, the Casino building has two ramped walkways, both in enclosed towers that extend out from the circular building. Wrigley took the idea to use ramps instead of stairs from Wrigley Field, his Chicago Cubs stadium. The ramps allowed the large numbers of people using the ballroom to quickly move to and from their destinations. They each have a small lobby area just below the dance floor level.

Catalina Island Museum[edit]

View from the harbor at night

In 1953, Philip K. Wrigley established the Catalina Island Museum on the first level, to preserve the history of the island from the pre-Columbian indigenous Tongva (Gabrielino) peoples through the pre-war 20th-century development by his father. The museum featured a large and comprehensive collection of original Catalina Pottery ceramics, produced by Catalina Clay Products between 1927 and 1937.[1]

On June 18, 2016, the museum relocated to a new building, located approximately one half mile from its original location in the Catalina Casino. The Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located at 217 Metropole Avenue.[1]

The museum continues documenting Catalina Island history, adding from World War II to the present day, and a research institute. It is the repository for all archeological digs on the island, and has one of the largest collections of Tongva artifacts in the world. There are now more than 10,000 photographs and negatives documenting island life from the early 1880s until the present day in the museum's photography collection.[1]

Catalina island ferry

In popular culture[edit]

  • A portion of the 1974 film Chinatown was filmed on Catalina Island,[10] featuring cinematic shots of the Casino.[11]
  • In 1984, Catalina Island and the Casino were filming locations for the Airwolf episode 'Sins of the Past'.[12] A replica of the Casino was set ablaze in the episode.[13]
  • After players complete the 2020 action-adventure video game The Last of Us Part II, the main menu screen changes to a beachfront with a rowboat in the foreground and the Casino in the background, implying that Abby has finally reached the Casino to reunite with her former group.[14]


  1. ^ abcdefgCatalina Island Museum
  2. ^ Catalina Casino
  3. ^ abcdeArellano, Gustavo (2019-12-01). 'This theater has attracted movie stars and Catalina Island residents for 90 years. Now, it may call it a night'. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  4. ^Baker, Gayle (2002). Catalina Island, HarborTown Histories, Santa Barbara, CA, p. 62, ISBN0-9710984-0-9 (print) ISBN978-0987903808 (on-line)
  5. ^'Hiroshi Sugimoto Avalon Theatre, Catalina Island'. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  6. ^Rubin, Rebecca (2019-11-12). 'Avalon Theatre Owner Blames Streaming Services for 'Upside-Down' Attendance'. Variety. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  7. ^'Silent Film Benefit'. catalina-museum. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  8. ^ Avalon Theater
  9. ^ Avalon Theater walking tour
  10. ^Chinatown (1974) - IMDb, retrieved 2020-07-07
  11. ^Kudler, Adrian Glick (2014-06-19). 'The ultimate 'Chinatown' filming location map of Los Angeles'. Curbed LA. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  12. ^Sins of the Past, retrieved 2020-07-07
  13. ^'YouTube'. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  14. ^'The Last Of Us 2: Here's What The New Game Plus Menu Screen Means'. GameSpot. Retrieved 2020-07-07.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Catalina Casino.
  • Catalina Island Museum – formerly located in the Catalina Casino.
  • Avalon Theatre – article by movie theatre preservation organization.
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If you have friends visiting from out of town that would enjoy a quick look at what Southern California diving has to offer, consider a trip to Catalina’s Avalon Underwater Park. You’ll find a lush kelp forest, mini-walls, pinnacles, sand flats, even a few small wrecks, and an abundance of marine life. It’ a “sampler platter” of California Channel Islands diving.

Avalon is a delightful and charming small town on Avalon Bay, Catalina Island — the only municipality on any of the Channel Islands.
Catalina is easily accessible by ferry; helicopter service is also available. The Park lies in the shadow of the Casino building on the western end of the bay. A beautiful round art-deco structure, the Casino was built in the late 1920s by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. Surrounded by the sea on three sides, its casino era was short-lived; today it houses a movie theatre and the world’s largest circular ballroom, with a 180-foot (55 m) diameter dance floor.
The approximately two-acre park is roped off, restricting boat access. This area is a no-hunt zone, which accounts for the abundant diver-friendly fish species seen here, including bright orange garibaldi, señoritas, and perch. Even the large, tri-colored male sheephead, usually wary, are welcoming. Large and bold calico bass (a.k.a. kelp bass) are commonly seen, and in late spring and summer, huge black bass cruise the outer edges of the kelp forest.

Casino Point Catalina Island

Before entering, take a moment to check out the lay of the kelp. While usually calm, the area can have strong currents flowing from west to east.
The kelp clearing area directly in front of the stairs is marked by a buoy and is reserved for scuba training. Most divers head east (to the right of the stairs), keeping the reef on their right. Cruise along at 35 feet and you’ll notice a monument to undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
At a depth of about 45 feet, you will find a large ridge. Before the Casino was built, rocks were added to make this into a breakwater for the small harbor. This was a natural reef and much of the original structure remains. Nestled in the nooks and crannies you’ll find lots of marine life, including blue-banded gobies.
Further to the east are more reefs with thick, lush and healthy kelp sloping to a sand bottom at 65 to 80 feet. At the extreme outer eastern edge of the park, almost directly under the buoy, is the wreck of the Suejac. The 54-foot long cement-hulled sailboat was driven up on the rocks in 1980 by a storm that punched a massive hole in its hull. The wreck lies bow down with the stern in 65 feet and bow in 95. Resting on her starboard side, the gaping hole points skyward on the port side, for a great wide-angle photo opp.
Directly out from the stairs in about 60 feet of water you’ll fins the remains of a glass-bottom boat. Other small wreckage can be found to the west and east but tend to get moved around in storms. On the outer reaches of the park to the west is the sunken swim platform. This is a great spot for nudibranch photos.
Underwater photographers will find plenty of subjects; carrying a camera into the water is easy here. As with much of the mainland side of Catalina Island, the waters are nearly always calm. Entry is down concrete steps with handrails specifically installed for divers. Water entries are on the right, exit on the left. The stairs can get crowed at times so arrive early. From the end of the stair the water drops off quickly to 10 to 15 feet of water.
In addition to Avalon Underwater Park being a popular dive spot, the town of Avalon is truly a Catalina Island vacation destination. Accommodations range from luxurious resort hotels to delightful cottages. You’ll find great restaurants, spas, shopping and other activities, including one of the world’s most challenging miniature golf courses.
Location: West end of Avalon Bay on Catalina Island in the town of Avalon.
Access and Entry: Down a few steps to the water’s edge into usually calm waters.
Snorkeling: Good but most snorkelers head to Lover’s Cove on east side of Avalon.
Hunting: Not allowed.
Photography: Excellent for wide-angle in kelp vistas, wrecks, and reefs. Small fish and nudibranchs offer macro photo opps.

Catalina Island Wikipedia

Facilities: For air fills and gear rentals, including onsite, call 800-353-0330 or 310-510-3175. Restrooms located in the Casino building. Lockers onsite. Large dive staging area with a few benches.