To gain inside access to your favorite movies and TV shows, a trip to Warner Bros Studio Tour Los Angeles is a must. The attraction brings you up-close to the sets, sound stages and props that make movie magic happen. Moreover, the two-hour, insider-tour, led by a knowledgeable guide, provides in-depth access to a studio backlot awash with Hollywood history and lore. If you thought you were a movie buff before, just wait.
Starting at 8am, tours leave every 30 minutes until 4:30pm (hours vary). I’m hoping to avoid larger crowds and be the first on the lot. With this in mind, I reserve an 8am tour, the first of the day. Luckily, my hopes become reality and going through security and checking in is a breeze. I even have time to grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich at the lobby Starbucks. A short film showcasing the Warner Bros Studio, its history and its role in current pop culture starts the official tour, then it’s off to the tram. My early morning reservation pays off and I’m on the first tram of the first tour of the day.
The tour starts with a cruise around the Warner Bros backlot. Our guide, Sam, makes a quick stop for a Warner Bros water tower photo op. Then, he leads the way through the storied backlots. On the whole, the storefronts, alleyways, and apartment buildings along these streets create cities from coast to coast, including New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Steve is well-versed in the scene-stealing spots, talking about them in detail. He’s also great at ensuring all 12 guests aboard his tram have time to snap photos. I’m amazed to hear of how Two Broke Girls, ER and scenes from Friends have all been filmed here, truly transforming the backlot to fit it’s TV needs. One’s imagination is put to work as you recreate the scenes in your mind, but it’s nonetheless cool to see the apartment door from Two Broke Girls, ambulance bay from ER, and rooftop where Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) dangled upside down and kissed Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst.) The Warner Bros Studio Tour Los Angeles goes beyond city scenes, though.
During the jungle part of the tour, our guide Steve reveals how a critical scene from Jurassic Park, centered on Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill escaping T-Rex, was filmed. Seeing how these small spaces are used to produce iconic movie moments is truly incredible and seriously surreal. (How did they do that? No…seriously. I’ve seen that movie at least 20 times and knowing what I know now, I appreciate it even more.)
One of the only places I couldn’t take pictures while on the Warner Bros Studio Tour Los Angeles were inside current, working soundstages. I wish I could show you the sets of The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters, but I didn’t want to get kicked off the lot (they’re serious about this stuff!). Nonetheless, it was quite the brain-buster to see sets like The Big Bang Theory’s; it’s so much smaller than I imagined yet exactly what it looks like on TV. A lot of the set was covered in sheets. However, our guide offered a full description of what we were seeing. He also walked us through the process of filming the show. In addition, he gave inside info like where Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon, stashes his cheat sheets for memorizing those physicist terms (hint: look under his couch cushion.)
Another highlight of the Warner Bros Studio Tour Los Angeles was the Warner Bros Archive and Car Vault. Currently, Batman and Harry Potter are both being featured which made this comic and Potter fan happy. At the Archive, the bottom floor is dedicated to all things Batman, from costumes used in each installment to the masks worn by each Batman, including Christian Bale as well as Michael Keaton. Conversely, the second floor is home to all things Harry Potter. Chiefly, visitors can explore costumes, character displays and even a photo-op of you with the magical sorting hat are highlights. No matter what which house chooses you (go Gryffindor!), the photo is totally share-worthy.
Next, we tour the Car Vault, where all things Batman are on display. This includes batmobiles used through all of the latest installments with Christian Bale. The bat light also shines bright here, and the entire Vault feels like you’re in Batman’s underground lair.
As the tour winds down, my tour group makes its way to the Stage 48: Script to Screen. Here, an interactive soundstage lets you discover firsthand how TV programs and movies are created. Likewise, this is also where you see props from popular movies like Mad Max, as well as costumes from famous movies such as Superman.
Most importantly, though, it’s the location of my hands-down most memorable moment: Central Perk! If you’re freaking out about the chance to sit on the Central Perk couch, where the Friends cast hung out each episode, then THIS is the place to make it happen. The stage is recreated perfectly! If I didn’t know any better I would think Chandler would pop in at any moment saying “Could this BE any better?” A professional photographer is on hand to snap photos. At the same time, an assistant happily took photos on my camera as well. Nevertheless, the professional photos are better than those on taken on my iPhone.
I’m a huge Friends fan! As a result, I have to buy the photo. It is $25 well spent in my opinion. Afterwards, you better bet I stop into a working Central Perk cafe for a coffee.
The backlots of Warner Bros Studio Tour Los Angeles opened my eyes to how movies and television shows are made. Now, when I watch The Big Bang Theory I think “I’ve been there!” And how cool is that?
Have you been on the Warner Bros Studio Tour? If so, share your experience with me. What was your favorite part? Which secret piece of information blew your mind?
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Los Angeles to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.