November 20, 2017

Warner Bros. Studios Behind-the-Scenes VIP Tour

IMG_7517It was overcast and a bit rainy as 49 DayTrippers, myself plus new Tour Director Robert Santos left San Diego. But by the time we arrived in Burbank at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

Warner Brothers has given tours of their facility since when Jack Warner himself ran the studio. When he couldn’t give the tour personally he had the guys in the Mail Room take VIPs around. Eventually the tour became more formalized and consisted of small groups given access to enough places around the lot to show how movies are made. That philosophy continues today. If you want to see how your favorite shows and movies come to life, Warner Brothers is the studio tour to take.

After a short movie starring Ellen DeGeneres highlighting the history and famous films and TV shows that Warner Brothers is known for, we broke up into groups of 12 or 13 and were escorted to our golf carts by our knowledgeable guides. We were whisked away across the street and behind the gates and then right into the middle of the action of the studio.

IMG_7570First stop was a drive by of Halley street – where famous movies like Spider-Man were filmed on a set that looks like New York City. Our guide told us how Toby Maguire hung upside down to kiss Kirsten Dunst in a famous scene from Spider-Man. Unfortunately for Toby, the rain machines they use churned out larger than natural rain drops so they could be seen on film. To keep water from drowning him he had cotton balls stuffed in his nose, and the mask came off just to his.

We also saw the exterior sets that were used in Gilmore Girls, Music Man, Dukes of Hazard and Pretty Little Liars. We got out of our carts and could walk around the square and learned how they use real trees, but sometimes import and tie on their limbs to the trunks depending on the season of the scene being filmed.

IMG_7566Next up was their DC Universe exhibit, with props and costumes from their many movies. Other exhibits include props and costumes from Fantastic Beasts, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can also get sorted into your Hogwarts house (I’m in Gryffindor!).

Other highlights of the tour include a visit to their prop shop. Housed in a 200,000-square foot building and holding over 450,000 registered artifacts, you walk past props of movies past (like the Maltese Falcons of the Humphrey Bogart movie) and props to be used in the future (a bookcase was tagged for an upcoming episode of “How to Get Away with Murder”). We also drove through the carpentry shop, where the actual sets are built, and packed for moving to sound stages. And spent some time with a variety of vehicles from the Batman movies.

We also visited the soundstage where the TV show “Lethal Weapon” is filmed. The set was not being used that day, which allowed us to get right inside and among the desks, and come through the “elevator” door. The guides showed how the windows angle so that the light doesn’t reflect on them, and how the walls can move to accommodate different camera angles.

IMG_7563The final stop on the tour is Stage 48: From Script to Screen. Here you get to explore interactive exhibits that show the process of putting a film together from beginning to end. Besides video and audio exhibits, you get to be in the action too, but participating in reenacting a scene from Friends on their reconstructed set, fly on a broom in front of a green screen to be part of the action of a Harry Potter film, or take in a cup of coffee at Central Perk. Of course they also have an extensive gift shop with souvenirs for shows such as Big Bang Theory, Friends, Ellen and the many characters from the DC Universe.

After three full hours the group returned to the bus and we headed home, with a much better understanding and appreciation of how our favorite entertainment shows and movies are made.

jennifer-hudsonJennifer Hudson
DayTripper Tour Director
Tour: Behind-the-Scenes at Warner Bros. Studios
Date: September 21, 2017


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