As a tourist in LA, it seems natural to expect to see celebrities and movies being filmed – after all you’re in the heart of the entertainment industry. But visiting the Warner Brothers lot is a little bit more than you would bargain for. I don’t really know what my original expectations of the tour were, but my actual experience definitely far outweighed them.
Those people that know me, know I love Warner Brothers. I love their films, their television shows, their history… everything about the company I’ve always admired. So having a chance to visit the place where the magic actually goes down was an amazing experience for me. Before the Warner Brothers VIP tour began, we watched a 10 minute video that got us all pumped – reminding us the titles that the studio was responsible for, and then we were matched with our tour guides and sent off onto the lot. Our tour guide was Tyler Neale, a charming young man who clearly shared the same love for the industry that I did.
We rolled onto the lot and one of the first things we saw was the outdoor cafe set from Casablanca, the location for where one of Hollywood’s most iconic moments went down – “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Next, was a moment I had eagerly anticipated for weeks, what used to be Stars Hollow. Yes, the infamous square where the Gilmore girls spent the majority of their days. Granted, it’s just like any square USA now – I still was able to pick out several buildings from one of my all time favorite series. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take pictures in this area, because off to the side of this square was a live production. Pretty Little Liars, a new ABC Family series, was being shot on the porch next to what use to be Sookie’s house. We were able to watch the filming for a couple minutes, and though it may sound glamorous – it seemed pretty routine for the extras that were driving their cars by the camera in order to make it look like they weren’t in fact on a Hollywood set.
Next it was the little patch of trees and grass that dubbed as Central Park. The tree that Rory studied on while at Yale (Gilmore Girls)… the sidewalk which Phoebe did that crazy run (Friends)… [View Video]… It was amazing to see how small this set was – yet how film and television can actually make it look like Central Park with the right footage.
Speaking of Friends, we drove by Stage 25 next. It will forever be known as the Friends stage on the Warner Brothers lot… though a bit of interesting trivia for you, it’s also where Full House filmed its’ eight seasons.
We continued to drive by a number of other sound stages, even getting to see the stage where Conan’s new home will be in the fall. The next place we stopped at was one of the most fascinating in my opinion – the place where the large format digital printing takes place. Not just the billboards that you see – but those large backdrops that go outside the windows of the sets to make it look like they’re really in whatever city the series is based in. Ever wonder what a printer that big would look like?
As a designer, I appreciated this more so than other people on the tour I’m sure. I have never in my life see a printer this size. Another thing I found interesting was the backdrop below. They create these backdrops of day shots of the city….
And then they paint on the back, where the lights would be for the night shots…
And then the final results is the backdrop of the night shot.
Amazing isn’t it? They make it look so real… and I’ll say even being there in person looking at it, it doesn’t look like a backdrop.
Next, we took our tram car through the woodworking space, seeing where all the signs are made. Then over to the building where the cars are getting worked on. Looked like the Batmobile was in the back getting some work done…
And then we turned the corner and saw another Batmobile getting shipped off to NYC.
Next, we entered a mini-museum which showcased vehicles from A.I., Matrix, Get Smart, fan favorite Chuck, Dark Knight, and Harry Potter just to name a few.
After that we were off to the Property Department, the home of all the Props. We were able to see a permanent home for many of the props from Central Perk, the coffee house that basically defined all coffee houses for us Friends fans. It was amazing to see these pieces in real life where so many seasons of magic took place. We were even informed that the Smithsonian wanted the Friends couch – but WB isn’t ready to part with it. It’s definitely a great addition to the tour for uber Friends fans like me.
Next is was the stage that will forever be known as the ER stage, the sound stage for The Mentalist (which we actually got to walk through, but couldn’t take pictures of since it’s still airing), Ellen’s office, and a wonderful monument for those WB employees that have served their country.
We also got to visit a museum with the actual Oscars for Best Picture (Casablanca and The Departed as well costumes from a number of WB productions including Casablanca, Dark Knight, and Harry Potter. In fact the whole second floor was Harry Potter costumes, including the actually sorting hat from the first film. I belong in Hufflepuff in case you were wondering, and you can find out the house you belong to their as well. But it wasn’t all movie costumes, they also have costumes from your favorite television series as well: Gossip Girl, Chuck, Pushing Daisies (Which I still miss), and my personal favorite Supernatural. As I stared at the costumes that Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki had worn, I leaned in hoping to catch a unique smell to them…. (as any girl who has watched the series would honestly do), but I’m sad to report the outfits had no smell of the sexy lads that had worn them.
Only downside to the museum, we couldn’t take any pictures in there either. Which is honestly my only bone to pick with the tour – I just wish we could have taken pictures in more places, but at least we got to see these things.
Lastly, we rode through the NYC street sets, and even got to see the location of that unforgettable Spiderman upside down kiss. Another bit of trivia for you… They put cotton balls soaked in Vaseline up Tobey Maguire’s noise so that the water wouldn’t get in. Kinda makes that kiss with Kirsten Dunst a little less sexy doesn’t it? It’s amazing how all of these things come together, how glamorous it looks to us in the final project, and then the actual reality of what they had to do to get things to look the way they do on film.
That concluded our 2.5 hour tour. Being the entertainment buff I am, I highly recommend the tour. Merely being at these locations where movie making history occurred sparks something in your soul. WB is a place where magic happens, and even when you find out how some of that magic is made – for some reason you’re all the more intrigued.
The tour finishes up in a gift shop loaded with goodies from your favorite TV series and the latest WB movies. I spent a decent amount in there that I’m not sure I’d like to repeat, but when you see in all my Warner Brothers Studio swag you’ll have a pretty good idea.
Special thanks to Warner Brothers VIP Tour for providing me with a ticket to review the tour, to our wonderful tour guide Tyler, and to Warner Brothers for making something like this available to the fans. At $49 bucks for tickets, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon in Los Angeles.
You can find out more information on the tour at their official site: Warner Brothers VIP Tour.
Review By: Emma Loggins