No Free Rocket Rides at The New Griffith Observatory

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite class trips was to the planetarium. I loved laying back and looking at the stars and planets and imagining all the possibilities for other life out there. My dad worked for NASA, and designed radiation shields and such for spacecraft, so talk about the cosmos was common in my house. Sooooo, it was with great anticipation that I’ve been looking forward to the re-opening on November 3rd of the Griffith Observatory. One major irritation though, is that they are charging $8 per head to park at either the LA Zoo or Hollywood and Highland (another $2-10) and then be shuttled up. Oh! And forget about spontaneously viewing the city from the parking lot, you now have to make a reservation just to get up there. It’s a beautiful city landmark…. one of my first LA memories is driving up there and looking out over the vast sparkling city, but they sure aren’t making it user friendly this time around.

21 thoughts on “No Free Rocket Rides at The New Griffith Observatory”

  1. Yea, it sucks. Never mind Colonel Griffith insisted that access to the park remain free. Mayor Tony and friends gets around that by not charging those who hike or ride their bicycles up the hill. But even those folks need to make reservations, at least for now. You’d think that at least some of the nearly $100 million spent on the renovation would have gone into parking. But apparently not. Better to keep the poor folk out, or at least make them work for it.

  2. I wonder if the parking lot by the observatory will be used for the tour bus crowds only. I vaguely remember that the mta used to run a bus up to the observatory, why can’t they do that again. $1.25 sure beats $8.

  3. Well, that’s no good. But I bet it changes once the initial rush settles down, a l√° The Getty reservations of yore.

  4. Lame. When I first moved to LA I attended AFI and I would sneak away during classes to enjoy the scenic view of the city and write. Now I get to make reservations AND pay money. Again, it follows my theory that I can’t leave my house without spending 50 bucks in this town.

    Wonder when we get to put quarters in the playground and Sierra Club starts asking for credit cards and ID.

  5. Its a way for them to regulate crowds. It’s been closed for 5 years, and it will again be one of the top destinations for locals and tourists. They have to regulate the crowds or it wouldn’t be any fun to go there anyway. I’ve already bought my tickets for the shuttle.

  6. Actually, I hear that Rocky Delgadillo is suing over the excessive $8 fee. Crazy Griffith J. Griffith had certain terms in his will when he bestowed the money to build the Observatory that it be “accessible to all”.
    $8 is not a pittance, and even less so if you want to bring the family up.
    Accessible to all should even include the lower class and anyone else on a tight budget.

  7. I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be just for for the first few months until the initial crowds die down. It seems to be a pretty good idea as long as it doesn’t become a permanent thing. The 8 bucks does seem a little on the high side though.

  8. from the Official website.
    Should be free as far as I am concerned.

    Public interest in the reopening of Griffith Observatory is expected to generate an overwhelming number of projected visitors to the Observatory in the months after reopening. In response, the City of Los Angeles has implemented a temporary visitor access program featuring a timed-entry and shuttle reservation system. This temporary program will ensure an enjoyable and safe visitor experience by preventing long waits and overcrowding while maintaining normal traffic flows in the Los Feliz area.

    During the months after reopening, there will be absolutely NO drive-up access to Griffith Observatory. All visitors must have a timed-entry reservation to be admitted to the Observatory.

  9. The reservations are temporary and only planned for a few months. But the fee to get there by shuttle (as I understand) is not temporary. I hope I’m wrong.

    The stipulation that the park be accessible by all is gotten around by allowing hikers and bikers free access. But even they need to make reservations (for now).

    As for the big crowds not making it fun, that seems kinda self-regulating, since folks won’t go if it’s not fun, thus decreasing the crowds.

  10. The fee blows but it won’t stop me from bending over and making reservations to get up there the opening weekend.

    After that while this fee remains in place I’ll either be getting up there hiking up from Fern Dell or biking up Vermont.

  11. Well, I have my tickets. This is my favorite LA location after all, so I wouldn’t miss it. But, I echo Markland’s words in saying 8 smackaroo could get pricey. It’s really frustrating that the amount of fun, date, or family activies that don’t add up to a full force kick to the wallet’s crotch is dwindling quickly.

  12. To all those who have already decided to pay the fee…

    This is EXACTLY why fees like this continue to appear at every attraction around the city. If you want to stop paying for everything, then a stand needs to be taken.

    Once officials learn they can charge for something, they will, again and again.

    Sometimes you just have to vote with your wallet. Nothing will change, and probably will get worse, until you do.


  13. >Wonder when we get to put quarters in the >playground and Sierra Club starts asking for credit >cards and ID.

    Unfortunately this has already happened for California since they require an Adventure pass just to park at local trailheads and go hiking.

  14. Dagnabbit, I did not lose an eye to my drunken maniac of a husband so the city could suck money out of your pockets! The Observatory was perfect the way it was. Why they had to tart it up is beyond me. I blame Nimoy!

  15. DASH stopped running the Observatory/Greek Theater bus when the observatory was closed. It was a nice ride and not crowded at all. While certainly an effort should be made to meter people from showing up, this reservation idea is pretty silly. They could have learned some lessons when the Getty opened ten years ago. Charge for parking, let transit riders as well as hikers and bicyclists the ability to jump the line (I wonder how much of a hike it is to the nearest parking lot… if it’s a mile or less, I’ll do it), and make the shuttle free.

  16. Also, they are requiring credit card reservations for all visitors, which is extremely lame and possibly discriminatory, considering that the city has a policy of accomodating illegal immigrants, most of whom don’t have credit cards.

  17. What in the hell does that “city has a policy of accomodating illegal immigrants” comment mean? That makes no sense. Feeble attempt at sardonic humor over prevailing attitudes toward immigration policy? Actual legal argument?

    Just plain offensive?

    Whatever – the cost is steep and hopefully is meant to ease the mob rush for the hills – unfortunately, this easy way is also the least fair way. I’m betting you see it change pretty fast though.

  18. If the city didn’t charge shuttle fees, they would have to come up with the around $15 million it would cost for the first few months for the shuttle. Also consider that the neighbors around the roads going into the observatory can and would sue to stop the opening if the shuttle system were NOT in place. There’s just no where to park up there. The shuttle system and fees ARE temporary until the mad rush dies down. This seems to be the only sensible way to handle the crowds, make the neighborhoods happy, and keep the observatory from being overrun.

  19. I was at the press conference last Tuesday, and spoke to Recreation and Parks general manager Jon Kirk Mukri. He said they would be monitoring crowd levels, but the city expects that the shuttle, reservations, and fee to be gone in about one year.

    He said the city was looking into the legality of charging the $8 fee for riding the shuttle, based on the stipulations of Col. Griffith’s will. They have put aside 1200 free admissions daily (out of about 6000 total), which would be released to the reservation system 48 hours in advance. Mukri also said they might run a FREE shuttle service from the Greek Theater parking lot (also on a reservation system).

    Everything I’ve read in news reports seems to say that those 1200 free admissions are for only hikers and bikers. But a few months ago, the shuttle fee was supposed to be only $5.50. Then, the local community newspaper reported that the city attorney might force the city to drop the shuttle fee (

    If the shuttle fee is now $8, it might be that the city decided to hedge its bets and set aside as many as 1200 daily shuttle free rides, subsidized by the other paying users.

    There was supposed to have been a meeting last Thursday to finalize this matter, but I haven’t been able to get an answer from anyone at Recreation and Parks or the observatory opening’s PR firm.

    Of course, if everyone decides not to make their $8 reservation and wait until 48 hours in advance and try to make a reservation from the Greek Theater, most of those people probably won’t be able to get in.

    Also, Mukri said that the DASH and MTA buses will not be running while the shuttle/reservation system is still in the works. And he claimed that the observatory parking lot would be open for Mt. Hollywood hikers and other recreation users in the morning hours when the observatory is not open (though it is not clear how they would clear the parking lot before the observatory opened).

  20. I think I will wait a year or two before visiting the “new” GO, let the hoopla settle down, then see what it’s like. I have also heard that they have only ONE planetarium show now, Hollywood version. Nothing informative about changing seasons, celestial events & whatnot.

  21. With the capacity of the GO building being more now there is simply not enough parking, for safety reasons etc. This was not a choice they were already having parking issues before the closure. Other parking options were looked at but not possible. Griffith Park is not charging an entrance fee to the observatory the shuttle service is. The Observatory was renovated because it had to be it was operating at over maximum capacity already. The Getty charges $5 for parking this is just the way it is now, there are way too many cars and people.

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