Australia is saturated with American movies and television programs. So when we started planning our Warner Brothers Studio Tour, I knew that much of it would be familiar to us. Some of our most favourite programs are filmed here and I was looking forward to seeing behind-the-scenes where all the magic is made.
What I wasn’t expecting was the reaction from Caelan when we got out the car, he screamed, “that thing is in the Looney Tunes: Back in Action movie!” Yep, the water tower in some of the Warner Brother cartoons actually exists. It stands proudly over the studios and it can even be seen from Universal Studios Hollywood.
Our Warner Brothers Studio Tour was scheduled for 9am on a Sunday morning. We were staying in Anaheim and allowed plenty of time for the 40 mile drive, not knowing what the LA traffic would be like. Being a Sunday we were very lucky though and ended up being really early which allowed us to park in the free street parking. It was very quiet around the area so if you plan to go on a Sunday it’s very stress free.
There is a parking lot available at 3400 Warner Boulevard, Burbank. The cost is $12 per vehicle, this is pretty reasonable as the tour takes a good 3+ hours to complete.
If you are travelling via public transport, the quickest and easiest way is the 222 bus from Hollywood/Highland Station on the metro red line train. Hop off at Riverside Drive/Hollywood Way stop. You will then be required to walk a half mile south to Warner Brothers Studios on Warner Boulevard, Burbank.
You can purchase your discounted Warner Brothers Studio Tour tickets here.
The Warner Brothers Studios Tour runs daily between 9am and 3pm daily. Tours run every half hour and they advise that you arrive 30 mins prior to your tour time. Each tour tram carries a maximum of 12 people.
Children under 8 are not permitted and children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Security at the entrance will search all bags, large bags are not permitted. Photography is allowed in certain areas and your Warner Brothers Tour Leader will notify you where photos are not permitted, video recording is not permitted at all.
When you arrive for your Warner Brothers Studio Tour, enter the Plaza Lobby where the Warner Brother Trams are parked out the front. You can purchase your tickets here or present your pre-purchased tickets at the counter. I strongly recommend pre-purchasing your tickets online using the link above. You can’t miss the entrance, its lined with bronze statues of famous Warner Brothers cartoon characters!
Inside there’s a Starbucks where we got breakfast while we were waiting for our tour to start. Once your tour commences, the attendants call your tour time and then lead you into a movie theatre. Eating and drinking is allowed in this area if you are still finishing your coffee!
Once in the theatre you watch a short film on the history of Warner Brothers Studios and some of the shows that have been produced over the years at that site. A lot of them you’ll recognise and some of them might surprise you. It’s here that your Warner Brothers Tour Guide introduces him/herself and at the end of the film you exit the building and board your Warner Brothers tram.
Once everyone has boarded the tram and the guide goes through a few of the housekeeping rules i.e.: all body parts in the tram at all times, seat belts to be warn at all times, you set off towards the studio lot. The guides are exceptionally knowledgable and are happy to answer any questions.
The tour changes daily and is reliant on the shooting schedule for each day. There are 29 sound stages on the Warner Brothers Studio lot, some of the shows being shot when we were there included Young Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory, The Fosters and Fuller House just to mention a few.
First stop on our Warner Brothers Studio Tour was the Archive, it stands in a huge shed on site and houses anything you can possibly imagine might be needed on a set. Not only does it have everything you might need but it has a variety of them just in case you need a choice!
They also have a team on site that if you need something altered they are able to do that as well. A lot of the furnishing you will recognise from films and these products are recycled and reused many times. Next time you are watching a movie look closely at the set and see if you can spot something that has been used in another movie, you’ll be surprised what you see.
The prop department is full of everything thing you can think of, from bush backdrop, fake wall, fake fireplace, snowy wonderland you name it, its there and if it’s not they make it! Not only are they fake, but they look amazing and oh so authentic.
The amount of work that goes into producing these sitcoms and movies is mind blowing and I had to laugh when our guide would say ‘see that, it’s fake, it’s all fake, everything is fake but it looks real!’ He was spot on as well. Alannah said, I’ll never look at TV the same again.
It was very quiet in the studio when we were there as it was a Sunday morning, this meant most of the main productions weren’t filming. We visited the Ellen sound stage and it was amazing to see how it all works. The shed is fully sound proof with a thick type of insulation and nothing can be heard from outside the shed. This ensures that outside sounds aren’t heard by people watching at home.
The actual stage itself is quite small, it’s deceiving on TV and while it sounds like there is a massive audience, the seating area is also quite small and compact. One thing you will notice when you walk in, is the amount of lighting. Our guide flicked the lights on to show us and I can’t imagine what it would be like sitting in there for a few hours. We were able to walk around the stage but were told not to touch anything!
Caelan and Craig were pretty excited about visiting the vehicles used in many of the Batman movies in the Batcave. The vehicles were produced to specific specification for each film and will remain in the shed until required again for future films if ever.
The vehicles were roped off so you were unable to touch them but you’re welcome to take photos. It’s great that they have kept these vehicles and Caelan loved seeing them and having his photo with them.
We had a drive through the twenty acres of Warner Brothers Studio backlot sets where a number of Hollywood movies have been filmed. They look just like your average street but if you look closely in the window you will see there is nothing behind it. The buildings and street fronts have been used in Casablanca, Batman, Gilmore Girls and Friends just to name a few. One even looks just like a New York block.
They make subtle changes each time it is used depending on what period in time it’s meant to depict by changing window frames and front doors and it would be hard to spot it when you are watching a movie. I think every time i watch a movie now, I’ll be looking for anything I might recognise.
The archives is home to DC Universe – The Exhibit on the lower level and Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beast on the first level. Where do you think we headed first? No brainer right, Harry Potter. The first floor shows various props and costumes from the movie. The original costumes are on mannequins and there are descriptions about the costumes from design through to creation. You can even ‘Get Sorted’ by the magical sorting hat which sorts people into one of the four Hogwart’s houses, all three kids got Gryffindor which they were pretty happy about.
Downstairs there’s the DC Universe showcasing our favourite superheroes and some super-super-villians! Upon entry you will see the first ever comic from all seven super heroes of the Justice League including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman some of them worth up to a $1m alone.
Authentic props and costumes are available to view and photograph from the recent Wonder Woman movie and from the Superman vs Batman movie. As the costumes are life size, its interesting to look at the actual size of the actors that played the role.
The tour comes to an end at Studio 48, Script to Screen, where Hollywood comes to life. Studio 48 is an interactive sound stage explaining the steps taken throughout the production process.
We participated in a role play on the Friends set which was filmed and played back to us. I played Rachel (of course), Craig was my Ross, Caelan was Joey and the girls were extras in the Central Perk Cafe. It gave us a bit of an idea how difficult it would be to remember lines for every show. Watching back was pretty funny as well.
The kids flew on Harry Potter’s broomstick with the green screen behind them and a fan blowing their hair to simulate what it would be like to be really flying. This was then transferred in to a scene from Harry Potter which you could purchase. It was quite expensive to purchase though so I just filmed them on my camera with the green screen. It was pretty cool to watch them flying through the sky on a broom stick though.
Next we watched a short video on how sound working together can enhance your experience at the movies and it was interesting to see that all broken down. The staff are fantastic here and are very willing to help and answer questions. We also saw how motion capture works and you are able to have a go at being an animated characters. The kids learnt a great deal about films and TV shows here.
The Warner Brothers Studio store is attached to Studio 48 and you can have a look around and purchase any souvenir that appeals to you. Alannah bought a Harry Potter t-shirt and Caelan a key ring for his school bag. There’s a huge range of Friends products you can purchase along with Harry Potter and Super Heroes merchandise.
After you have had a little wander around the store you can exit out to where a tram will pick you up and take you back out to the beginning. Our tour was over 3 hours but we were in Studio 48 for a while as each of the children want to have a go at everything. Once the tram drops you back you are free to go, there is no need to go back into the entrance building.
We really loved our Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the kids were engaged and loved looking at all the stages and learning how it all worked. Craig loves movies and recognised a lot of the sets from movies he’s seen and I just loved being Rachel for 5mins but have decided I probably wouldn’t make the best actress. Don’t give up my day job right!!
Having done both Warner Brothers Studio Tour and the Universal Studio Tour, I have to say they are both very different and both worth doing. I thought seen one seen them all but that’s not the case at all. Caelan who was 8 at the time, really enjoyed the tour but I can understand why they don’t allow kids under 8. Caelan does love movies though so it was something that interests him.
Also I think visiting on a weekend was a great move, very little of the sets were operating so we had a lot more opportunity to have a look around. We also visited the police station and morgue set of Lethal Weapon the series! The down side to visiting on the weekend is little chance of spotting a celebrity. I assume Ellen was still tucked up in bed with her cuppa tea during our tour!
Best comment of the day was from Alannah – ‘I think this tour has spoilt TV for me for the rest of my life!’
Are your kids into roller coasters? If so check out my Knott’s Berry Farm review for some mad roller coaster action!
Have you been on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Hollywood? Would love to hear what you thought of it in the comments below, if you are thinking about doing it I strongly advise you do, you can even purchase you tickets straight from this site above. Make sure you let me know what you thought of it.
That’s all folks!!
Sal, Craig & our 3 kids.
Disclaimer: We had a mutually beneficial arrangement with Warner Brothers Studios but as always my opinion is my own.