Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles vs Sydney Opera House

A classical music venue in step with the 21st century, the Walt Disney Concert Hall provides a captivating modern alternative to older venues like the Sydney Opera House

Upon stepping inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall, one cannot help but be swept up in its architectural grandeur. Full of odd angles, seductive curves, and yawning windows that draw in the California sunshine, this gleaming metal-clad building looks every inch the world-class cultural center. First-time visitors often regret arriving so close to show time, wishing they had more time to explore the labyrinthine corridors and breathtaking features of Frank Gehry’s metallic wonderland. By comparison, with its white-tiled exterior and repetitive curves, the Sydney Opera House seems better suited to the 1970s, the decade of its construction.

Forget the Sydney Opera House?

The build-up

Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of an entire continent, the Sydney Opera House is, without question, one of the world’s most famous performing arts venues. Perched majestically on Sydney Harbour, the complex is the city’s most-visited tourist spot, with crowds snapping photos at all hours.

The letdown

A visit to the Opera House is rarely a relaxing experience. With roughly 1,500 performances held annually throughout the complex’s five main venues, it is clogged with tourists and concert-goers at most hours. Visitors taking one of the facility’s tours are not guaranteed a glimpse of the Concert Hall or Opera Theatre, as accessibility depends on performance schedules.

Going anyway?

For unhurried photo ops, visit during the early morning, when tourists are still not about and performances are rarely held. Opt for the more economical lunch at one of the venue’s five eateries, over the pricier dinner service.

Practical information

Getting There and Around

International flights to Los Angeles land at LA International Airport (LAX), which is 16 miles (26 km) from downtown. If you take a cab, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is 30 minutes away, depending on traffic. If, however, you prefer to use the city’s efficient Metro Rail service, the concert hall is located just a short walk from the Red Line Civic Center Metro stop

Where to Eat

The complex’s primary restaurant, Patina (tel. +1 213 972 3331) serves gourmet FrenchCalifornian fare amid undulating walls and ceilings. Chef’s menus are available, there is both a lunch and dinner service and seasonal tasting sessions.

Where to Stay

Downtown Los Angeles provides numerous hotel options; the Hilton Checkers Hotel (www. hilton.com) is conveniently located on South Grand Avenue, a short walk from Disney.

When to Go

LA enjoys perfect weather throughout the year. Visitors keen to enjoy Disney should check the venue’s events schedule to see when Philharmonic performances or other special events will be taking place.

Budget per Day for Two

US$475, including 4-star accommodations, dining out, and performance tickets.

Last word

You don’t need to attend a performance to appreciate the building’s cultural and architectural significance. Free guided tours, offered nearly every day, encourage the public to come and study the complex – one of LA’s biggest cultural bargains. Disney is at the forefront of a new breed of concert halls, where a visitor is just as likely to see a school group roaming the halls as a gaggle of dressed-up patrons. With its progressive programs and foothold in LA’s cultural scene, the Disney beckons visitors who want to stay ahead of the curve. It surely won’t be long before the Disney takes its rightful place among the world’s premier concert halls

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