Saturday, August 3, 2019

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Visit: Everything You Need To Know

By Jonathan Bilski, Editor of TTDILA


It's open after so long a wait.

The theater franchise known to cinephiles as simply the best place to catch movies has finally opened up in LA. It started in Texas, built an amazing experience with both content and service and after years of waiting, because it was suppose to open years ago here, we have an Alamo Drafthouse of our own here in LA. Simply call it the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown. Or really the Alamo or Drafthouse when talking to friends about getting tickets.

This brand new 12-theater, dine-in, free video rental, bar, arcade, board game hangout and store has a lot going for it. I'm gonna break down my visit of the place, which is open for you, your friends, loved ones, acquaintances, visiting cousins you barely know...really anyone so you can try it.

The Drafthouse opened at The Bloc, a new eye-catching outdoor mall in downtown LA. It has a some new restaurants, a Sheraton hotel and even one of those new security robots. It's well kept and has human security guards and a cleaning staff which seem to keep it very nice and clean.

Now, let's get to getting to the Drafthouse.


Alamo Drafthouse Downtown
700 W. 7th Street Ste. U240, Los Angeles, CA 90017

The Metro

From the Metro (which of writing 8/3/19  has the some of the lines down, so double check if you can get there) you can literally be dropped off underneath The Bloc. The 7th Street Station in underneath it, providing really great access to the place. And access to the tiniest Dunkin Donuts I've ever seen. It's only drawback is that the gate to The Bloc from the Metro closes at midnight. This might be changed, however you can find other entrances to the Metro nearby that will be open as long as you can ride it. And they're easy to get to.


For those parking at The Bloc, you can get to the parking lot from the sides and the back. The front open area has no way into its parking lots. Just be ready as The Bloc has got one-way streets making it a little bit harder to get into.

Get ready for a ride if coming in from the back, that's one windy spiral entrance. Now, no matter where you park you gotta get to the 4th floor to get there from the parking lot. So, it's kind of weird how to get to the Alamo. I had trouble and social media posts have pointed this out too.

Take the parking lot central elevator to the 4th floor.  Get out and there are signs pointing you to it, but even then it's easy to miss it. It's one elevator that goes directly inside the Drafthouse. Cars easily block the view of the elevator entrance. It's toward the front of the open area of The Bloc. Get in and there are some taped on labels telling you where the Drafthouse is.
*For an added bonus, face away from the way you entered. The elevator opens in the other direction when going to the Drafthouse.
Or just take stairs, escalators or other elevators to reach in from the open area of The Bloc.

The Look

She's got the looks at she got it at Ross. Or really the Drafthouse just looks utterly amazing. Really, once inside you'll be in awe. You haven't seen a theater like it before unless you've gone to any other of the theaters in the franchise...then you have. But, even for LA folk, it's impressive.

The ticket counter has what's playing up in a marquee of Scrabble pieces. Friendly staff and not a screen is there to help get you to your seats. At this point you're right next to the lounge/store, Video Vortex, but that's in another section I'll go over.

Up an escalator and then you'll see a posh poster paradise. Carpeted, wallpapered halls filled with gorgeous giant posters. These look like Italian knock-offs and Japanese movies I've never heard of. It's a wonderful collection to usher you into the theater. I admired them as did other guests as TTDILA crew and I walked to our theater.

 Here's swatches of the wallpaper and carpet.

 *Another Drafthouse has the same carpet as The Overlook Hotel from The Shining, lucky. Ours doesn't.

Where My Butt Goes

Now there's no ticket taker out front. Just head to your assigned seat, put your butt down and the staff will ask to see your ticket in your phone or in hand. Order tickets online or there. The seats are comfy, are stadium style, so everyone has a good view. *Clarification, unless you're in the front row, you gotta crank your head back. And they recline, but maybe not far back as AMC's style. This may be due to the dine-in option.

Arrive before the movie starts, they have a policy of not letting you in once it does. I'm not sure if it's when the trailers are going on, but be careful. They'll refund you or just let you see a film of your choosing at a later time if you're too late.


I really just want to tell you about how it all works. Ya see, that tray table in front of you doesn't move, so don't try and move it towards your body. It's not like other dine-in theaters. The menu is in a slot in your tray and you can look at it with a little light that's permanently on underneath the tray. The light is not distracting at all. You have pieces of paper (order cards) on top of the tray and a little pen. You can make your selection at anytime by writing down what you want with the help of the light under the tray. Then you place your card upright in front in another little slot and a server will "creepily" sneak over to you and get it. You're food will also be delivered you in such a manner.

There's a cup holder in the side arm of the seat for your drink. This might be my only problem with the set-up as when I raised my drink, I kept hitting the tray by accident. It wasn't a big deal, but it did happen multiple times.

Check out the selection of eats and drinks here. They do serve alcohol and even have Adult alcoholic milkshakes for your pleasure. And yes, they have regular milkshakes too. And Vegan and Gluten free options, it's LA.

Honestly, I'm not impressed by the menu and it ain't cheap either. I got the Fried Pickles and the Chipotle Chicken Grilled Burrito. I didn't even finish the burrito it was so bad. Nothing on the menu stands out as really that fun or new to try. I thought there might be some more playful stuff tied to films, but nope. Prices are on par with other theaters. For all the wonderful work of getting you your food, it isn't worth it.

I might change my mind and I'll try something else, but for right now I'd say get popcorn or a specialty drink and save room for food.

Paying for it you can have your card pre-swiped or just pay near the end of the film. Either way the bill is brought to you to go over and sign for. No rush, just go over it after the movie if you want.

*3% fee for back-house staff is charged on your bill, another restaurant at The Bloc did the same thing. It's optional, and you can say take it off your bill. It is not a tip.

No Talking, No Texting

No talking, no texting. How does it work? If the staff doesn't spot it themselves, you simply write down on an Order Card if anyone is acting up. The staff warns them once and if it happens again they're asked to leave. It's a great policy. And one of the things Drafthouse is known for, kicking out the trash.

No one acted out at my screening, so I can't really report beyond that. I did talk to staff and they're ready to get jerks like that out of the theater.

-Actually Watching The Movie

The visual and audio were both perfect. Each theater has laser projection and at least one can play in the 35mm format for special screenings.

Part of the experience is bonus content that only Drafthouse can provide. I'd liken it to going to the New Bev or the defunct Cinefamily. Clips or shorts play before your film to liven it up. You might get some footage related to your film before it plays. I saw Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood, can't wait to link to the post on all the places you can visit in the movie, and Drafthouse played a commercial for "The Manson Family Murders News Special" before the movie started, which directly ties into the film.

The biggest theater hold under 70 seats and the smallest I believe is 35. So no theater is ever gonna have that big a crowd.

* That might be a downside for any sort of a premiere of a film or special screening, because seats will go fast.

The Other Place My Butt Goes

Restrooms are unisex, meaning everyone can use them. I saw a women do a double-take when I walked out and explained to her it was unisex. It's all big stalls for privacy, with big doors. So, your cut-off once you're inside one. For dudes though, there's a separate urinal room, but for some reason Drafthouse didn't put in any privacy walls in-between them. So, enjoy that awkwardness. There's two restrooms one near the theaters and one in the lounge.

Video Vortex Is A Lot Of Things

"Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood, playing at 5:30 is about to start," one of the staff called out over a loudspeaker in the lounge like at airport.

Video Vortex is a lounge, bar, arcade, board game play area, free rental store and shop...that's a lot.

Enjoy whatever's playing on the big screen, it was Double Dare when I was there, and access to the bar in the lounge. The lounge area let's you grab a drink and relax before or after your film. Also, it looks great with the counter next to it filled with old VHS Tapes.

The lounge area has plenty of tables to relax at. You can play free board games at them while there. They have board games you can just pick up and play. And if you like them, you can buy them. They sell them in the store the makes up the front of the lounge area.

You also have access to the comic book restroom that has old comics as wallpaper, giving it a fun look.

They also have a number of arcade machines, they do cost money to play. And with the sound on, so you can actually enjoy the games you're playing. I think they're rented or were bought from the Vintage Arcade Superstore in Glendale.

Rent movies for free? Yes, thanks to a deal with our local long time Vidiots, Drafthouse has a free rental store. You just gotta sign up and put a card down in case you're late to return a DVD or Blu-ray. They have a substantial collection to look through and a great little pad to both sign up for Video Vortex's rental service and to see the whole selection. If you leave nearby or can come back in time to return your rental...well, that's just a great free service.

Mondo makes me happy and Mondo is Drafthouse's merch and art division so you can buy so much great stuff including Mondo posters, t-shirts, figures and in general all their cool products. Can't wait for their special collector edition cups that only the theaters get.

Signature Series & Special Events

Special events are a major part of Drafthouse. The Clown Only screening of IT: Chapter 2 already sold out for September. There will be more down the line, you should pay attention to Drafthouse LA's social media posts if you want to find out about them and try and snag tickets.

There's also Signature Series. These are series with a theme that will showcases films in a certain genre or style. We have Terror Tuesday's first screening being Chopping Mall, followed by Weird Wednesdays first being the crazy-as-Hell Roar. This is only a bit of the selection of films you won't find playing at AMC or ArcLight. It's gonna be a wide assortment of different films to check out and it will grow a new community of film nerds. It really takes the places of The Cinefamily as a depository of all sorts of fun cinema events.

That about wraps it up. Alamo can sell you on it's on Season Pass and becoming a Victory Club Member to earn points. For now, after such a long wait, you can finally see and enjoy the theater for yourself.

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown