The 96th Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, is just around the corner, and the anticipation for the red carpet to unfurl is building. While we anxiously wait for the ceremony to take place on Sunday, March 10, we decided to share a behind-the-scenes look at the venue where this star-studded event takes place – The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA.

The theater is in the Ovation Hollywood shopping mall and entertainment complex on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Ave. You’ll see other Hollywood sights including the Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) on your way to the theater. If you’re a devoted fan of all things Hollywood or dream of gracing the stage and accepting a coveted golden statue, I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance for the behind-the-scenes tour of this famous theater. Tours are offered every month except for February due to the production setup required for the Academy Awards show so make sure to plan your trip accordingly.

As you approach the venue, you’ll see several columns displaying the names of previous Academy Award Best Picture winners. You’ll then climb the same red carpet stairs as your favorite celebrities do to enter the venue.

The Pre-Show for the Academy Awards

You’ll meet the tour guide at the doors of the theater to check in for the tour. Beginning in the lobby, the tour guide starts with a little bit of history behind the venue. The tour guide presents images capturing the red carpet experience leading to the entrance of the Dolby Theatre. This exclusive red-carpet experience is only rolled out for a brief 48-hour window, temporarily closing a section of Hollywood Boulevard.

The immersive segment of the tour kicks off as you descend the stairs. The lower level of the theater is reserved exclusively for award nominees. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find an exclusive VIP room adorned with a showcased Oscar statue. The tour guide shares some fun facts about the statue including how it got its name and what it represents. Here in the VIP lounge, nominees indulge in select wines that are exclusively poured during the Academy Awards. There’s also a larger bar on the lower level that serves up food and alcohol throughout the show.

Seating Assignments for the Oscars

From there, the nominees proceed into the theater to take their seats for the main event. The tour offers a glimpse into the intricate planning behind the seating arrangements. Demonstrating the meticulous coordination involved, organizers have strategically placed cardboard cutouts featuring actor headshots and their names in selected seats. This visual aid helps map out the optimal locations for celebrities to be seated, showcasing the thoughtful preparation that goes into creating a smooth operation for the event. As an example, Mindy Kaling is highlighted in an aisle seat near the side stage, given her role as a presenter. This strategic placement provides her with convenient access to the backstage area, enhancing the overall efficiency and flow of the event.

While looking around the theater seating area, the tour guide shares more details about the logistics of the Oscars including the stage set up, who’s sitting in the box seats, and other interesting trivia about the awards ceremony.

Backstage at the Oscars

As the tour starts to head backstage, the guide points to photos of how the theater has multiple stage setups to serve as the backdrop for America’s Got Talent, the AFI Life Achievement ceremony, The ESPY Awards, The Latin American Music Awards, the American Idol finals, movie premieres, and other various events. While occasional glimpses of photos from these special events are shared during the tour, the primary focus remains on Hollywood’s biggest award show – the Oscars.

Before stepping onto the main stage, you’ll stroll by makeup and dressing rooms, where presenters refresh their appearance before taking the spotlight. The tour provides a glimpse of the green room’s entrance; however, during non-Oscar seasons, the lounge lacks the lavish styling seen on the night of the event. Usually, corporate sponsors transform the green room into a branded haven, offering celebrities and other industry professionals a luxurious lounge experience before and after their on-stage appearances.

The tour guide offers a few minutes for everyone to take photos/selfies of themselves on the Oscars stage. He sets the tone by congratulating us on an amazing Oscar win and now we’ll be routed the same way the winners are after their acceptance speech.

Winner’s Walk at the Academy Awards

The award winners travel down a hallway adorned with a captivating collection of photos showcasing iconic moments of past Academy Award winners, including Grace Kelly, Halle Berry, and Jack Nicholson accepting their golden statues. This visually striking walkway leads winners to the press area, where they’ll be interviewed and photographed before they can return to the lobby or the theater.

Governor’s Ball/Oscars After Party

But the celebrations do not end once the main Awards show concludes. The event extends well into the evening with the Governor’s Ball after-party – also hosted in the same complex as the Dolby Theatre. During the award show, the winners receive blank Oscar statues. The Governor’s Ball has an area where the winners will go to have their names engraved on their statues. The Governor’s Ball is known for its over-the-top and glamorous atmosphere, offering a luxurious setting where A-list celebrities, industry luminaries, and distinguished guests come together to revel in the success of the evening. The tour concludes with a few photos from the Governor’s Ball including Leonardo DiCaprio getting his Oscar engraved for his Best Actor award for “The Revenant.”

Overall, I was impressed with the quick 30-minute guided tour of the Dolby Theatre. I enjoyed the immersive experience of making attendees live out their fantasy of being an award winner at the Academy Awards – I certainly did! The tour highlighted the seamless execution of the show, portraying it as a well-oiled machine. It’s truly remarkable to witness the extensive effort put into producing the event within a 48-hour timeframe. I’ll be eagerly tuning in on Sunday, March 10, to catch the live event! What are your predictions for the 2024 Academy Awards?

Photos from the Dolby Theater Behind the Scenes Tour