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Griffith Observatory School Program Information

April 28, 2020 Update

Due to the ongoing closure of Griffith Observatory, we regret to announce that all school program sessions for the rest of school year 2019-2020 are CANCELED. Please watch this space in late summer for news on the status of the 2020-2021 school program. Stay safe.

Information Regarding the 2019-20 School Program

Soon after opening in 1935, Griffith Observatory initiated one of the first school visit programs in the region. Generations of Los Angeles-area students made the pilgrimage in buses up Mount Hollywood for an experience under the stars. Since the reopening of the renovated Observatory in late 2006, over 310,000 fifth-grade students and 34,000 teachers and chaperones from schools around the region have participated in the Observatory’s School Program. Now, we are pleased to announce the Observatory School Program for the 2019-20 school year.

For the eleventh year, Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) is generously sponsoring the Observatory's school program. If you'd like to help FOTO in its mission of supporting the Observatory and its visitors, please click here. The program serves over 300 fifth-grade students per day.

WHO: Fifth-grade students ONLY. As with the programs from 2007 through 2019, this year’s School Program is open exclusively to fifth-grade students. The content and activities are aligned with the California Education Content Standards for fifth grade. Only students enrolled in the fifth grade (and fifth-grade classes) will be considered for school program visits. Thanks to FOTO, there is again no charge for students to attend a program.

WHAT: A two-and-a-half hour program with exhibit, building, and theater experiences. The program uses the Observatory’s telescope, exhibit, and building content as well as programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater. Museum Guides, Telescope Demonstrators, and Observatory Lecturers will guide students in standards-based learning experiences using our unique facilities. Each component of the program is designed to complement the others and to support the fifth-grade education standards. Click here for a two-page brochure which describes the program in more detail.

WHEN: Most Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Your bus must arrive by 9:00 a.m. The program ends at 12:00 noon. The first program will be Wednesday, October 2, 2019. There will be NO programs during the week of Thanksgiving (November 27-29), winter break (December 23 - January 3), or spring break (April 6-10). The last program will be June 4, 2020.

WHERE: Griffith Observatory. Programs are held at historic Griffith Observatory (2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA, 90027). Access to the Observatory is available from Vermont Avenue. Friendly Observatory staff will greet buses, divide students into groups, and guide students through the program. Teachers, chaperones, and students must arrive by bus. It is your responsibility to arrange for bus transportation for your visit. The bus will drop you off and pick you up at the horseshoe driveway. Classes are expected to attend the ENTIRE program.

HOW: By advance phone reservations ONLY, starting Wednesday, September 4, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. Availability is VERY limited, and the program is always oversubscribed. We process reservations via the school program reservation hotline on a first-come, first-served basis. Teachers wishing to participate in the school program MUST make an advance reservation by phone, receive confirmation from the Observatory by mail, and return the signed certification form. We regret we cannot accept reservations by fax, email, or other means. It is not possible for the hotline to take recorded messages.


Here are the steps of the reservation process (each is described in more detail below):

  1. Gather the required information, including your preferred visit dates.
  2. Call the School Reservation Hotline (only one caller per school).
  3. Reserve a program date (subject to availability).
  4. Receive a confirmation package from the Observatory (via U.S. Mail).
  5. Secure bus transportation for your visit.
  6. Each teacher must complete, sign, and return a certification form for his/her class.
  7. Present the confirmation letter when you arrive for your visit.
  8. Contact us immediately, but no later than 30 days in advance, if you are unable to come on your reserved date.

1. Gather the required information, including preferred visit dates.

When you are connected, our reservation agent will ask for the following information, which you should collect before calling:

  1. Proposed visit dates (Wednesday - Friday)
  2. School Name
  3. School Address and Phone
  4. School District
  5. Number of Students (per class)
  6. Teacher Name(s)

You will be asked first for your proposed visit dates. Please have multiple date options available and have a calendar handy to explore alternatives if your proposed visit dates are already full. The program fills VERY quickly, so flexibility helps.

2. Call the School Program Reservation Hotline: 213-473-0891

To make a reservation, call the SCHOOL PROGRAM RESERVATION HOTLINE: 213-473-0891. Only one caller per school.
The hotline is open: Tuesday - Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed on Monday holidays and on Thanksgiving and Christmas).

Reservations may ONLY be made via the hotline at times when it is open. The hotline does not take messages, and no advance reservations or waiting lists are possible. Only one caller per school; multiple callers lead to double bookings and increased wait time.

3. Arrange a reserved date (subject to availability).

The agent will ask what day you would like to visit. Please consult your school calendar and have at least three options available (and a calendar at hand in case more options are needed). Our ability to schedule your class is subject to availability, and we have a finite capacity which fills quickly. Once you have reserved a date with our reservation agent, immediately begin your efforts to secure a school bus.

4. Receive a confirmation package from the Observatory (via U.S. Mail).

Once the reservation agent has confirmed a date for your class, the Observatory will mail you a confirmation package which you should receive within ten (10) business days. The confirmation package includes your confirmation letter (with details regarding your reservation), information about the program and our regulations, and the certification form.

When you receive the confirmation package, the teacher must review it carefully and notify us immediately if any information needs to be corrected or if you have any questions. All students and teachers/chaperones must be included on your reservation in order to be admitted.

5. Secure bus transportation for your visit.

It is your responsibility to arrange for bus transportation for your visit. Everyone participating in the school visit program must arrive by bus (including all chaperones). No other vehicles are permitted. Buses should be scheduled so that they will arrive at the Observatory by 9:00 a.m.

6. EACH teacher must complete, sign, and return (by U.S. Mail) the certification form for his/her class.

As soon as you have secured your bus, each teacher MUST complete, sign, and return the certification form using the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope. The principal of the school must also sign the certification form.

The signed certification form confirms your formal agreement to the following:

  • The class has or is in the process of obtaining bus transportation to arrive by 9:00 a.m. on your reservation date. Bus reservation documentation must be provided to us no less than 3 weeks prior to your reservation.
  • Your bus must arrive by 9:00 a.m. for check in. Students and Chaperones may not join the group after your class is checked in.
  • Only teachers, chaperones and students enrolled in fifth grade on the reservation will be admitted.
  • There is one adult chaperone/teacher for every ten student participants.
  • All teachers and chaperones must be present upon check in and wear Observatory-issued Identification during the program. Late arrivals cannot be admitted.
  • All teachers, chaperones, and students will abide by the school program policies and procedures and any instructions provided by Observatory staff.
  • You have provided your contact information for the day of your visit.
  • Teachers/chaperones will actively supervise the students according to the Teacher/Chaperone Responsibilities form and will stay with their class at all times.

If your class includes students with special needs, please specify the number of these students and what, if any, accommodation they will require and the number of 1:1 aides required per I.E.P.

Failure to abide by program requirements and staff direction will result in the bus being turned away upon arrival or the class being removed from the program.

7. Present the confirmation letter when you arrive for your visit.

You may only participate in the School Program on the day of your confirmed reservation. Classes without a confirmed reservation will not be admitted.

8. Contact us immediately, but no later than 30 days in advance, if you are unable to come on your reserved date.

If you must cancel your visit for some reason, please let us know as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days in advance. We may be able to make the space available to another school. Please call the number indicated on your confirmation letter. Failure to provide sufficient notice may jeopardize future school program participation by your school.

For frequently asked questions about the program, click HERE.


Please be aware of the following requirements in planning:

NO Children May Attend Who Are Not Fifth-Grade Students. Only students enrolled in the fifth-grade may attend. We also cannot permit siblings of students or other children of teachers or chaperones to attend the programs or enter the building.

Everyone Must Behave. All programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium are conducted by a live presenter in near-total darkness. The environment of the planetarium theater is specifically crafted to enable maximum visitor enjoyment of the show. As such, all visitors in the planetarium should refrain from any activities that would be disruptive to those around them (or to the presenter). Such activities include talking, yelling, making distracting noises, standing up, or using cell phones or other devices. We reserve the right to remove disruptive guests from the theater at any time. If you must leave the theater during the show, you cannot be readmitted.

Teachers/Chaperones Must Supervise Their Students. Teachers/Chaperones will participate actively in the program AND in the supervision of the students. The requirements for a Teacher/Chaperone during the visit are described here; please make sure all of your adult participants are aware of their responsibilities. Students must stay with their groups, follow staff instructions, walk (not run) inside the building, and not climb on exhibits. We will remove students and/or classes who are disrupting the program.

One Adult Chaperone Is Required for Each Ten Children. To ensure a safe visit, the Observatory requires each visiting class have at least one responsible adult Teacher/Chaperone for every ten students. The teacher must certify this in advance. The Observatory will not schedule visits for classes without the required number of adults.

Do Not Bring Extra Adult Chaperones. Please keep in mind that we have limited capacity in our theaters. Please do not bring extra chaperones.

You Must Provide Your Own School Bus and Arrive on Time. Students, teachers, and chaperones must ALL arrive via a school bus. Schools must arrange and fund their own bus. As noted above, you must certify that you have secured a bus prior to your visit. Your bus must arrive at the Observatory no later than 9:00 a.m. to enable the program to begin on time. Buses will drop you off and pick you up at the Observatory’s horseshoe driveway. During the program, buses will need to park elsewhere in Griffith Park.

Be Ready for the Program. Your bus needs to arrive by 9:00 a.m. so we can begin the program on time. This means anyone requiring a restroom must use the exterior restrooms located in the parking lot and/or eat any snacks before that time. There is no break during the program.

No Food or Drink Is Permitted In the Building or During the Program. To protect the historic building and its exhibits, food, drinks, candy, and gum are not permitted at any time in the building or during the school program. Teachers and chaperones must enforce this policy. The Observatory does not have facilities to store picnic or sack lunches; these must be stored on your bus. Also, please do not bring backpacks into the building.

Special Education and Special Needs Students Are Welcome. The Observatory is able to accommodate both special education and special needs students (including those in wheelchairs, with visual/hearing impairments, or emotional issues). However, we need to have advance notice to understand how best to meet the needs of the students. Please indicate the number of such students and what, if any, accommodations are required when you return your certification form.


Public Operations. Please be aware the Observatory opens to the public on weekdays beginning at 12:00 noon.

Activities After the Program. When the program is completed at 12:00 noon, you may be interested in one or more of the following options as an additional aspect of your visit.

  • SHOPPING. Visit the Stellar Emporium, the Observatory’s gift shop and bookstore operated by Event Network, where students may shop. Please supervise students while shopping. If you are interested in making a purchase in advance, please contact the store directly at 323-660-7827.

  • EATING LUNCH. Students may purchase food in line or pre-purchase bag lunches from The Café at the End of the Universe, the Observatory’s café operated by Wolfgang Puck. If you are interested in pre-purchased lunches, please complete and follow the instructions on the form that is already included in your packet. If you have questions, please contact them at 323-661-2231.

  • Students may also bring their own bag lunches to the Observatory. However, no food may be stored inside the building or on the grounds during the visit. Students are welcome to eat on the lawn or sidewalks, but may not use the chairs and tables on the Sunset Terrace (outside the café) unless they have purchased food from the café.


We recognize that many classes who wish to visit the Observatory will not be able to participate in the formal fifth-grade school program. Such classes are welcome to visit the Observatory during regular public hours of operation:

Tuesday-Friday   12:00 noon -   10:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday   10:00 a.m. -   10:00 p.m.
Mondays   Closed

While there is not a formal program for students in other grades, our knowledgeable and experienced Museum Guides are located around the building to help make your visit successful.

We regret we cannot guarantee tickets for the programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Such tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, only at the building, and only on the day of your visit. For more information on purchasing tickets, please click here.