Port Rating: Not Rated
A 26-mile cruise cruise on the Catalina Express from Long Beach over to the city of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island takes about one hour. Some of the exciting activities include aand buy a Behind the Scene Tour of the magical Catalina Casino.
Not A Gambling Casino
Built in 1929, for nearly two million dollars, it took nine months to build one of the few circular theatre buildings in the world.
Taking the new tour of the casino, visitors can step onto the same stage that Robert Mitchum performed his first theatrical performance in 1946. We listened to John Tusak play the theme song to "Phantom of the Opera" on an 80-year-old organ. He plays every Thursday to Sunday from 6:15 to 7 pm before the curtain rises for the evening's first-run movie.
As we admired the beautiful murals inside the theater, we learned that the wire under each seat is to hold a man's hat while watching "a talkie."
Upstairs in one of the dressing rooms, we saw where Erroll Flynn, Gene Aurtry and his horse, Champion prepared for their show.
We admired old photos of Tommy Dorsey's band, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, and Glenn Miller. In 1940, Kay Kyser brought a record 6000 fans to the island. They arrived on the Great White Steamer, yachts and seaplanes dressed in fancy dresses and suits.
Once we entered the dance pavilion we discovered an octagon-shaped frescos that opens for a chaperone to peek out of to make sure couples didn't dance too close. Women felt safe at the Casino, because they knew "mashers" were thrown out and not allowed to get too close to unmarried women.
The tour is a sentimental journey of the grandeur and glamour of the Big Band era.
Below the Casino is the best dive park in Southern California. For those who enjoy Jules Verne's book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the Avalon Dive Park has two shipwrecks and a massive kelp forest teeming with marine life. In July, visitors can live take a Catalina Sea Trek Eco Tour in this area. Visitors don't need to be dive certified. For those who don't enjoy snorkeling, this is an ideal way go under the sea. No swimming or diving experience is required.
Dressed in a wet suit and large dive tank helmet, visitors won't get their face wet and can wear prescription glasses. A laminated card hangs around your neck to educate you about what you are seeing while walking on the sea floor through the giant kelp forest.
For those who would like to learn more about the city of Avalon, Discovery Tours is offering a new GPS Walking Tour. Visitors can obtain a hand held device unit with video, audio, and photos to discover the historical sites and whimsical areas on the island.
Hole in One
The Avalon Miniature Golf is finally being renovated and will open in July for families to enjoy the new gardens putting on a new and challenging course.
This summer you don't need to go far to experience new wonders. Sail across the sea to a charming island filled with new family activities.
For additional information, go to www.CatalinaChamber.com