I knew from the second we decided on a trip to L.A. that I wanted to do a studio tour- the question was, which one? There are the Paramount Studios, Sony Studios, Universal Studios…ultimately, however, I decided on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
For the basic WB Studio tour, you get a two-hour tram ride where you explore the backlots of famous movie and television sets, and even get to visit famous soundstages (“The Big Bang Theory,” “2 Broke Girls,” etc.). We made some stops in the middle of the tour to see lots of DC and Harry Potter props (and even try on the Sorting Hat- I got Gryffindor), and then ended a tour with a stroll through the “Friends” Central Perk set and the WB gift shop.
What’s especially cool about the ending to this tour is that you also get to see how certain movie special effects are made (I got to don some Harry Potter robes and sit on a broom facing a green screen- the final product showed me flying a broomstick over the streets of London). There are even more props located in the area leading up to the gift shop, and you get the chance to hold an actual Oscar (they are pretty heavy).
There is a small replica of “Central Perk” after you exit the gift shop, where you can have a cup of coffee and a pastry.
Depending on your tram guide and the people in your group, they’ll tailor your tour depending on your favorite shows, trying to give you the most for your money. For example, there were people on our tram who loved “Pretty Little Liars,” and so we got to see some cool sets from that show. Also, you’ll never know when celebrities will be walking around- we saw some of the young stars from “Fuller House” and some of the producers (as well as the sound stage) from “Mike and Molly.” The tram guide does remind you to turn off your cameras and recording equipment when you encounter these important people, however.
Also, no loud talking is allowed on the tram when a red light is flashing on a sound stage- that means filming is going on.
I thought the tour was very cool- it was super neat to see these facades that were familiar to me, but that I had only seen on TV before. Also, I’m just as much a Harry Potter fan as I am a Disney fan, and so I loved the prop storage area. My husband also loved the area where we stopped off to see some “Batmobiles” and other famous DC vehicles. Our tour guide was very friendly too- we had a live taping to see at the WB Studios the next day, and she was really helpful in telling us where to go for that.
Eric is a HUGE “Friends” fan, and so getting to pose for a pic on that famous coffeehouse sofa was a pretty surreal experience. This was one of the main reasons I chose the Warner Brothers tour over the others- there is just so much to see and so much history that took place on the Warner Brothers lot.
As for some of the TV sets, we saw where they were currently filming scenes from “Supergirl.” Also, as for movies, we saw the scene where they filmed the famous upside-down Spiderman kiss. There were tons more of these “wow” moments, but I don’t want to spoil the tour for anyone else. I just thought it was well worth the money (about $75 a piece back in 2015 for each of us, for a 2.5-hour tour), and I definitely walked away with a few souvenirs.
We’d be returning to the WB studio the next day, so we left and explored the Walt Disney Studios next door. Unfortunately, they don’t let you onto the Disney lot unless you are a Cast Member. However, I did enjoy taking pictures outside and looking through the gates. ABC Studios is also nearby, as well as Walt Disney Animation Studios (yup, they have one for Live Action and one for Animation). It’s definitely a place to see and be seen, even if I did feel a bit creepy skulking around all these studios and VIPs.
That night, we decided to continue our celebrity status and explore the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Parking is a nightmare out there- I don’t think I’ve ever had as much anxiety as I had that night. We ended up spending a ridiculous amount of money for a 30-minute parking spot, and were greeted by street hawkers trying to sell us stuff every two feet. It was not what I was expecting at all- very grimy and gritty.
It was also hard to snap shots of the sidewalk- there are so many tourists, and people preying on tourists, all around you, so it’s hard to stop and take pictures. I did find Disneyland’s star in front of the Ghirardelli ice-cream shop, but I felt so uncomfortable taking out my camera every two seconds. We also saw the famous Chinese Theater, but they were doing some sort of movie premiere that night, so I couldn’t get up close to see the stars’ handprints and signatures.
Our last stop before we left was the El Capitan Theater where, coincidentally, they were showing The Little Mermaid. If we hadn’t been under a strict time constraint, we would have seen it, but it was late. I’m looking forward to seeing a film there one day!
In conclusion- yes to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, and meh to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s definitely a must do for first-timers to Hollywood, but there are too many hustlers out there for me to go again.
Thanks for letting me post these blogs- it’s definitely getting me excited for our trip in just a few days!
Hugs and Fishes,