It was a gloomy, grey and chilly day on Saturday Sept. 12—perfect for snuggling up and watching a good film. But instead of wrapping myself up in my cozy comforter with Netflix on my laptop as usual, I decided to switch it up and venture out to The Riviera Theater with my boyfriend to see their screening of Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty. I was not only excited to go watch one of my beloved Disney films on the big screen, but I was also eager to finally step foot in the newly renovated Riviera––I had heard great things about it, but had yet to attend any screenings there myself. It definitely did not disappoint.
After buying our tickets and pushing the heavy wooden doors open, an extremely cheerful concession worker greeted us while we looked at a table with paper slips listing the upcoming showings for the coming weeks. Riviera Theater owner Don Livingston’s theme of “classics” is apparent with picks such as King Kong, Little Shop of Horrors and Dracula in the mix. He explained that although Sleeping Beauty is an animated children’s movie, he still considers it a classic due to its age—pre-1970s—and for its “old style” of animation without the aid of computer technology.
While it may sound horribly trite, walking into the actual theater part of the building felt like I was stepping back in time. The first thing that really made me smile wasn’t actually something I saw, but rather what I heard. The jazzy, 1920s-eque instrumental music playing through the speakers seemed to transport me into an era where movies were black and white and admission was just a quarter. I absolutely loved this sensory addition—once again reinforcing Livingston’s passion for instilling a classic atmosphere within the old theater.
The interior of the theater itself was much more beautiful than I expected, with deep green, gold and white embellishing on the walls. Even the balcony was illuminated by the ornate lights hanging around it. I didn’t even know there was a balcony in The Riviera until that day, and while my boyfriend and I chose to sit on the main floor to not have our line of vision obstructed by a pole, I thought it was a really interesting and unique feature of the movie house.
I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. While it wasn’t filled to capacity, there were a fair amount of diverse individuals there. There was the absolutely precious trio of elderly women in front of us, a few families with both sons and daughters and also a group of girls there who seemed to be college age or slightly younger.
My favorite individual, however, was the tiny little blonde girl who could hardly contain her excitement and dressed in a full Princess Aurora costume. Alongside her was her extremely patient, yet noticeably weary father. It was nice to see people of all ages from the community coming together.
The movie itself was not played on a film reel, but rather a DVD––something that my boyfriend chuckled about. It didn’t bother me at all though and I was perfectly content in my comfortable seat reliving my childhood as I watched the tale unfold. There was something really special about seeing an old school Disney film on the big screen, especially in a theater as unique as this.
If you’re looking for something new and fun to do, want to support local business or need a cheap date activity, you should definitely check out The Riviera. Admission may not be a quarter anymore, but for only $5 a showing, you can’t beat this place.