Disney Builds a $4 Million Imax Screen and Tears It Down 4 Months Later

In 1999, when Disney wanted to open its first Imax feature, Fantasia/2000, operators of the only Imax theater in Los Angeles said they didn’t qualify to use the theater. Disney had demanded an exclusive engagement, but directors of the California Science Center — which includes a 480-seat Imax theater as part of the nonprofit science and technology museum — said Fantasia/2000 didn’t meet the mandate of the school groups they serve. No problem, said Disney, and they proceeded to take the extraordinary step of building a temporary theater to showcase their first Imax feature. The theater — a steel and fiberglass tent constructed at a cost of $4 million — opened on New Year’s Day in West Los Angeles. The theater included 622 stadium-style seats, a 12,000-watt digital sound system, and a 56-foot-fall, 80-foot wide screen that builders said was the largest Imax screen in Southern California. However, the theater’s most impressive feature was its short lifespan. The entire facility was broken down and cleared away just four months after it opened.