Our Warner Bros Studio Tour is a review of this opportunity to see how TV and film are done. It’s magical but also demystifies 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 some ways, 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.
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Warner Bros Studio tour review: backlot
We toured the exterior sets in the “backlot” 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.”
Take a look below and see if you can see the illusion:
- 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.
- 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.
- Below 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.
- 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.
- The 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.
Warner Bros Studio tour review: museum
The tour stopped at the Archive Museum for a 20-minute look inside. At the time we visited, it featured 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.
Some of the museum highlights include:
- Troll club and legs used in Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone.
- 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.
Warner Bros Studio tour review: front lot
Eventually, we made our way to the Front Lot. Here we found the Sound Stages, the set and prop construction areas, and the offices.
They pointed out a few special sound stages. Sound Stage 25 has a long history. It is now used for The Big Bang Theory. While the 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.
Why you should take a tour
This is my fourth visit to a Warner Bros Studio. We visited Warner Bros’ Harry Potter Studio in London, we 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 Interesting 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 8 am and 5 pm, while the shorter winter days offer tours between 9 am and 3 pm. 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 before 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.
Getting tickets for a studio audience
- Many shows are filmed before a live studio audience. Getting tickets takes a bit of advanced planning, the best site is tvtickets.com.
- The best tip to get tickets for The Big Bang Theory is to try in July and August at 9 am PT (California time).
- Did you know that Ronald Regan was in 41 films made by Warner Bros?
- If you’re a bit star struck like me, you might also like the Hollywood Madame Tussauds.
Whether you are doing a big United States tour, or just passing through LA, Warner Bros is a great place to visit.
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More from the USA you might like including our USA Adventure road trip.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary tour. However, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.