Thinking about visiting Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood? Here are 12 things to know about this Hollywood studio tour beforehand!
If you’re a TV and film buff then there’s no shortage of things for you to discover in Los Angeles, California. LA’s Hollywood neighbourhood is so intrinsically linked with the film industry that it has become the shorthand for the US film industry itself.
If you’re looking for behind the scenes studio tours, Los Angeles is the city to go to. And Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood is the best and most popular of the lot.
This is one of the busiest working studios in Los Angeles and has been in operation for over 100 years.
Some of the world’s biggest and best television shows and films were made here including Casablanca, La La Land, Friends and more.
The studio has been open to tours since 1972, almost 50 years ago. These 12 tips will let you know what to expect from a tour of Warner Brothers Studio in LA today.
There are 3 different tour options
There are a number of different Warner Brother Studio Tour options available in Hollywood. The “Studio Tour” is the most popular option and the one that I selected.
On this tour, you’ll get to see the storytelling museum, the backlots, an interactive soundstage, the sets of Friends and The Big Bang Theory, the DC superhero and Harry Potter exhibitions and more.
However, you can upgrade your experience by selecting the Deluxe Tour, which gives you access to the costume department, the property department and Warner Bros.’ commissary fine dining room for lunch in addition to everything you get from the Studio Tour.
The third option is the Classics Made Here tour. This tour is for classic movie buffs and lovers of the Golden Age of Hollywood, particularly films from the 1970s.
Please double-check the availability of the above as the global situation has caused some changes to what’s on offer.
The studio is enormous
The grounds of the studio are absolutely enormous and span around 110 acres. For reference, that’s the same size as the entire Vatican City.
People aren’t kidding when they say everything is bigger in America!
That’s why you’ll be driven around the backlots in a buggy like the below. It’s simply too large to walk around!
The studio’s sheer size is one reason why this is one of the best backlot tours Los Angeles.
It’s a guided tour
A large part of the experience is a guided tour where an expert will drive you around in a buggy around some of the iconic outdoor sets imparting lots of behind-the-scenes information as you go around.
There are a few parts of the tour which are indoors too, some of which are guided and others where you will be left to explore for a set amount of time.
There are also some sections that are unguided where you’ll have the option to wander around at your own pace, find food and drink or do some Warner Bros related shopping.
It’s still a working studio
The Warner Bros Studio Los Angeles is a real-life working studio so every tour will be slightly different depending on what’s being filmed on which streets and sets each day.
TV shows that are still being filmed here today include The Ellen Show, Conan O’Brien, Fuller House and Lucifer. In fact, the day I visited the tour, we drove past a scene being filmed for Conan O’Brien that would be aired on TV that very evening!
Historically, massive shows like The Big Bang Theory, Friends and Gilmore Girls were filmed here too.
You’ll learn lots of film secrets
The tour is led by an expert film guide who knows everything about what goes on at Warner Bros Studio Hollywood and how films here are made.
You’ll learn lots of cool facts about how films come together behind the scenes, such as the fact that the buildings in most things filmed here are not made out of real brick, they’re made of a cheaper material that is easy to build and dismantle.
However, the problem is that now TV’s have such high-quality HD settings, film-makers are being forced to using a cheap, thin layer of real brick so that film sets still look realistic!
Another fact I loved is that George Clooney’s favourite restaurant whilst filming is called The Smokehouse, which is right outside the studio.
He now has a production company called Smokehouse Productions, which is named after that very restaurant.
You’ll get to visit real sets
The tour will take you to some real-life sets for shows that are still being made today. Which sets you see will depend on what’s being filmed and which sets are empty on that day.
When I visited, we were taken to the set of Lucifer where we were allowed to see inside Lucifer’s apartment. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll instantly recognise the swanky interiors of the devil’s abode.
There are interactive elements
In addition to the guided tour, there are lots of opportunities to pretend you’re an actor on set. For example, you can ride Harry Potter’s broom or Catwoman’s motorbike in front of a green screen.
In front of you, there’s a monitor showing you what it would be like in the real film so you can imagine yourself flying through the streets of Gotham laid down on Catwoman’s motorbike!
Fun fact: only two people in the world know how to ride Catwoman’s motorbike – Anne Hathaway’s and Christian Bale’s stunt doubles. You need to lie flat on the motorbike and it’s really difficult to drive in that position!
There’s also the opportunity to take photos on the real-life Friends sofa and even act out a Friends’ scene! When I visited, we re-enacted Phoebe’s birthday which was Episode 5 in Season 9.
Random people on the tour were chosen to play the main characters and they read the lines shown on large display cards at the front of the set. Other people on the tour (like me!) got to be extras, pretending to sip coffee at the back of Central Perk.
Fun fact: Friends was only ever shot in California. Not a single scene was shot in New York, where the series is set.
If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you can explore Sheldon’s apartment and even sit in his spot!
Exhibits sometimes change
It’s worth noting that the exhibits at the studio tour may change depending on when you visit and what films have been made recently.
When I visited, I saw the Justin League costume exhibition, as that had been released a year prior but before that, there were Batman vs Superman costumes on display.
If you’re dying to see a particular film set or costume, I’d suggest doing some research or reaching out to the tour itself to find out exactly what exhibits are on display at that time.
As with most things in Hollywood, this tour can be expensive. The tour itself costs $69 per adult, which is definitely worth the price.
However, once you get inside you’ll find that there may be other costs involved. For example, if you want to take away a professional picture of you and your friends on the Friends sofa, you’ll pay $25 for the first and $15 for the second.
You are also able to take your own photos but if you want to take home the professional photo in a Friends related frame then you’ll need to cough up.
The props are all real
You may get the chance to visit the prop archive on your tour, a massive warehouse with over 1 million items inside. Some of these items are highly valuable and precious, there’s even one item in there worth over $1 million.
There are lots of instantly recognisable props in here such as a replica Iron Throne that was used in a Game of Thrones related Conan O’Brien episode. There are also chairs from the Matrix, statues of Agent Smith, lamps from Inception and more.
This is the prop store that filmmakers will visit when they’re looking for items to use on their shows. As such, you’ll occasionally see post-it notes on items that have been reserved for shows that are currently being filmed.
For example, I saw some antique chairs that had post-its on them reserving them for use in an upcoming episode of The Ellen Show.
By the way, to get tickets for the Ellen show, head to the Ellen TV website here and request to be an audience member. They’re free!
There are also some props for Warner Bros films that were not filmed in the USA. For example, there are a number of Harry Potter props, which are all real, but the films themselves were made in the UK.
Check out my ultimate guide to Warner Bros Studio tour London here.
Some props that were used in films don’t just look cool, but genuinely are usable in the real world. For example, the engines in the vehicles in the Bat Cave section of the tour are real so you could actually drive one of those cars away.
One vehicle even goes up to a whopping 205mph!
You can grab a bite to eat in Central Perk
There’s some food and drink on-site in the recreated Central Perk cafe and Harry Potter themed Starbucks. Of Course, Central Perk serves up some New York deli classics but what’s really special is that there are some Friends specials on the menu.
You can even try Rachel’s Thanksgiving trifle! Thankfully there’s no meat in this version…
You can then enjoy your food in a number of Friends’ themed areas – Central Perk, Joey & Chandler’s apartment, Monica’s apartment, or a Greenwich Village themed set.
This part is a must for Friends’ fans!
It takes around 3 hours
Finally, if you’re wondering how long is the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and how much time to set aside for it then I’d suggest blocking out half a day.
The guided section is around an hour long but you could easily while away another two with the self-guided portion, grabbing a bite to eat, wandering around the shop and more.
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