Warner Bros Studio Tour: Adding Magic and Shattering Illusions

From the first moment of the Warner Bros Studio tour I was transported from reality. I am embarrassingly star struck, and a bit goofy at these types of places. My highlight list is long as I got to see Leonard and Sheldon’s living room (The Big Bang Theory), sit on the couch at Central Perk (Friends), turn on the bat signal (Batman), and get sorted by a hat (Harry Potter).

Warner Bros Studio Tour is a mix of memories. It’s an opportunity to see how it’s done. In someways, it’s magical, but on the other hand it demystifies the illusions.

The tour starts out with a brief history. Then we are divided into small groups. We travel in electric vehicles, as louder engines have been banned from the lot since the days when “bad boy” Jimmy Dean used to sit outside sound stages, wait for the light indicating filming, and then rev up his motorcycle.

We toured the exterior sets in the “back lot” first. It is here cities, towns, and other outdoor scenes are created. From our guide: “Temporary is good, everything is fake, right down to the bricks. It’s about Illusion.”

Anytown USA at Warner Bros Studio

This is “Anytown USA.” By altering building names, plants, lampposts, and doorknobs, the production staff create a different atmosphere. Do you recognize it? This street has been used in 350 movies and TV shows.

Example of a set using forced perspective on Warner Bros Studio Tour

Using a technique called “forced perspective”, the set creators alter height and width of buildings to create the perception of depth while using less space.

New York Street at Warner Bros Studio seen from the side.

From the front view (as seen in television or movies) it looks like a typical New York street full of apartment buildings. However, the side view shatters the illusion.

A bush wagon at Warner Bros

This bush wagon is moveable and used to block out other parts of the back lot. This particular field is where the Friends cast played football and the street is where Sheldon was chased by a dog on The Big Bang Theory.

Practical Set seen on Warner Bros Studio Tour

We went inside one of the houses (called a practical set) and discovered no ceiling, as that is where the lights and microphones are set up. Due to the heat of the lights, there are also large air conditioning systems in place.

The tour stopped at the Archive Museum for a 20 minute look inside. It is currently featuring DC Universe: The Exhibit and The Harry Potter Exhibit.  Here I was sorted by the Hogwart’s sorting hat into Slytherin. Interesting to note in the movie the hat never says, “Ravenclaw,” so the museum’s sorting hat does not either.

Superman at Warner Bros Studio Tour

I met Superman at Warner Bros Studio Tour.

Troll club and legs on Warner Bros Studio Tour

Troll club and legs used in Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone

Bat Mobiles at Warner Bros

We stopped at the “Picture Car Vault” where we got to turn on and off the bat signal and see all of the Bat Mobiles.

Eventually we made our way to the Front Lot. Here we found the Sound Stages, the set and prop construction areas, and the offices.

Sound Stage for Big Bang Theory seen on the Warner Bros Studio tour

Sound Stage 25 has a long history. It is now used for The Big Bang Theory. While entrance is part of the Warner Bros Studio tour, photos are prohibited. The Big Bang Theory is filmed in front of a live audience. The laughter is never faked, and the writers use it to gauge the effectiveness of the humor, fixing and re-writing on the spot.

Woodshop at Warner Bros Studio

A woodshop actively constructing a set.

Sample costumes in the museum in Sound Stage 48 now use for the

Taking us from script to set, one of the rooms in Soundstage 48 shows us the process of costume creation.

This is my fourth visit to a Warner Bros Studio. We visited Warner Bros’ Harry Potter Studio in London, were invited into the soundstage for the filming of Major Crimes, and I was brought on the lot before independently by a relative. The value added from the Warner Bros Studio tour makes a big difference. It explains the illusions, brings out the magic, and it was quite a bit of fun. 

Practical and Intresting Information:

  • Located at 3400 Warner Blvd in Burbank California, it is one of Los Angeles’ largest Hollywood studios. See the official website.
  • Hours vary by season generally ending before dark. Typical summer hours are between 8am and 5pm, while the shorter winter days offer tours between 9am and 3pm. Check the official website for the day you want to visit.
  • The more comprehensive 5 hour deluxe tour departs weekdays at 10 am.
  • It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your tour time. Plan to be at the studio for about 3 hours.
  • The tour itself takes about 2 hours and ends in Sound Stage 48 where there is at least an additional half hour worth of things to take you along the path from Script to Screen, longer if you read it all.
  • Many shows are filmed before a live studio audience. Getting tickets takes a bit of advanced planning, best site is: tvtickets.com.
  • Best tip to get tickets for The Big Bang Theory is to try in July and August at 9am PT (California time).
  • Did you know that Ronald Regan was in 41 films made by Warner Bros?

Have you been on a Warner Bros studio tour? What would be your highlight?

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Review of Warner Bros Studio Tour, Los Angeles California

This post is linked at Our World Tuesdays, Ruby Tuesday Too, Life Thru the Lens, Travel Tuesday, Wanderful Wednesday, and Outdoor Wednesday

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complementary tour, however the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

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  1. says

    Although I lived in the area until I was about 40, I never visited any of the film making sets. I lived within walking distance of MGM and Desilu in Culver City, but only passed by. I did see some of the MGM sets through the fence as I walked past. I don’t think they even had tours. I never watched many movies so I never was motivated to visit the studios.

  2. says

    This looks like fantastic fun and so envious that you got to see the big bang set. Another place to add to my list of places to go.

  3. says

    Give me more Rhonda. I will probably never be able to get there so if possible could you show more photos. I enjoyed this so very much.

    Rhonda, you & your husband have taken us to some great areas. Thank you. For now, have a great Wednesday my friends. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

  4. says

    Actors are illusions too, I’ve never been to Warner Bros. Never felt the urge to go. Not my cup of tea. Okay, I’ve not been to Disneyland either. Why? I haven’t a clue.

    You sure did pack a whole lot of fun things during your whirlwind trip.

    Have a fabulous day. 🙂

  5. says

    Never been to the WB studios or California for that matter. It looks like a fun experience. Thanks for taking us on a pictorial tour. It was interesting learning so much about what goes on on the studio lots! 🙂

  6. Anonymous says

    The ‘streets’ are amazing, totally fake and yet they look like the real thing. This tour looks really cool


  7. says

    Rhonda, WOW, amazingly cool! This is something I won’t see unless we in California. The closest I ever go to Hollywood is when a movie starring Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase filmed in town last month. That was major cool stuff!! They used locale buildings and scenery for their shoots. We got to watch one day, which was nifty. If we ever make to California, then I’d like to tour one of these places and try to get into The Price Is Right. 🙂 Thanks for visiting and linking up today. Have a fototastic week!

  8. says

    that was fun! i’ve been to the disney mgm studios tour (a mini tour) and i can see being demystified, but i’m a realist and think it’s cool how they fool us into believing things!

    hope your health is good too!

  9. says

    Hi Rhonda … I’ve never been to one of the ‘lots’ … but I’m sure it’s so interesting – and you’ve added to your knowledge … cheers Hilary

  10. says

    Hi Rhonda – not sure if my comment got through … but what a fascinating tour to take – and I’ve never done anything like that … cheers Hilary

  11. says

    What FUN! I would have LOVED to have seen where BBT is shot – I LOVE that show! 😀 I’m super envious! Thanks so much for sharing. I guess you couldn’t take pictures inside where they shoot BBT eh?

  12. says

    This is so cool!!! I’ve never been so lucky to go to Disney or one of these studio tours – but I would absolutely love to go one day. I’d probably be around those Batmobiles for a long time. And I love seeing the costumes. It’s kinda neat to see all the “tricks of the trade.”

    • says

      I don’t know about the other studios but Warner Brothers is definitely a thumbs up. Hubby thought the Batmobiles were really amazing – they are all functional.

  13. says

    I’ve never been on such a tour, but I was at Universal Studios in Orlando once a long time ago. It’s awesome. Thanks for sharing. Sorry I’m late had a procedure done in the hospital. Thanks for stopping by. hugs

  14. says

    Great post! I just published my visit (3rd one for me) on my site haha. It was interesting to read yours and see what perspective you took in writing this as it was different to mine, as I am a film and tv nut and thus recognise a whole lot of stuff being so eagle eyed that aren’t even pointed out haha. Glad you enjoyed it!

  15. says

    It sounds like Warner Bros offers a superior tour. Years ago I visited Universal Studios and whilst we did get driven about the lot we did not get shown inside any of the real sets or studios. I love that you get to see a bit more of how the making of a movie or show gets put together.

  16. says

    I finished Warner Bros Studio way back and it still doesn’t look like it’s changed much! It was such a cool experience to see how easily they changed the surroundings to make it look completely different. (And also shattered some of my TV series fantasies) Still it was so awesome to stand in the exact places where some of my favorite actors and characters had been. Looks like a great time! Thanks for sharing and for linking up for #wanderfulwednesday

  17. says

    This is looking really great fun, cant believe that street using in more then 350 movies and batman and superman stuff is amazing. I love to see things about comics such as batman.

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