Thank you to Warner Bros Studio Tours for sponsoring this post! All opinions and experiences are my own.
I cannot even express the magic that this day was. If you are ever in the L.A. area I highly recommend you check out the Warner Bros. Studio Tour!
I woke up that morning, so excited to head to Burbank and explore the lot where so many of my favorites were filmed and mixed. I packed my backpack only to realize I forgot my DSLR camera battery! GRRRR while driving out to Burbank, we stopped at 3 places, but none were open or had it! So the quality of photos aren't as good as I had hoped, but still crazy meaningful to me.
When we pulled up I saw the iconic Warner Bros water tower, it was wrapped for a movie they were promoting, but my heart still skipped a beat.
I hurried through the Looney Toons characters towards security, nervous I would be late, checked in, and headed straight to the movie theater. They began by showing us a short movie about what to expect and I was already fighting back the tears. To see Ellen up on the screen talking about the magic that has happened over the years, including my favorites like Rebel Without A Cause, Casablanca, to more recent loves like Pretty Little Liars, Inception, and Gilmore Girls, I could not help but totally feel like I was in for the most perfect and exciting day of my life (sorry wedding day… jk, but this was a close second).
After the short film ended, the tour guides started taking their groups. There are two tours: The Studio Tour and the Deluxe Tour. The Studio Tour is a 2-hour guided tour, with a one-hour self-guided portion afterward for $52-62 (pricing depends on if you purchase on-line or there). There are tons of “start” times to choose from as the tour leaves every 30 minutes starting at 8:30 am.
Now the Deluxe Tour is what I did… and let me tell you, it's totally worth the $295. This tour has one start time each day, 10:00 am. The tour lasts for 6-7 hours. The website says its a 5 hour guided tour, but we were with our guide, Thom, for almost six hours. The experience was better than I could have ever imagined from their site, <— Thom is actually the guide in the photos!
So I'm going to be 100% honest here, when Thom announced he was our guide, I was a little skeptical. I am a 27-year-old girl, how much overlap in TV and movie tastes could we really have in common here? I was totally nervous he was just going to focus on older shows – but that's why we don't judge people! Thom and I totally geeked out during lunch about The WB and The CW history, and classics like Everwood, Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill. Thom is pure gold. Warner Bros needs to give this man a fantastic Christmas bonus because he truly loves his job, loves the network, and goes above and beyond to customize the experience for guests. Seriously, scroll through the Warner Bros Studio tours Instagram and everyone is raving about Thom. He is simply, the best.
Thom got us all seated on our fancy golf cart, and before starting the tour asked us to raise our hand if we watched any of the TV shows or Movies he was going to list. The first four shows he named my hand shot up at every single one, I started laughing to myself because, as many of you know, I watch entirely too much television. He was then able to customize what he pointed out to us based on our viewing pleasure, how cool!
* If you are a TV junkie like me, before taking the tour, I would highly recommend doing a little research about what shows were filmed at Warner Bros before the tour. Thom named some of their bigger ones, and it wasn't until the middle of the tour that he and I stumbled onto more shows and movies I love that were filmed there (Chuck, Pushing Daises, Space Jam, and more). Click here to scroll through a massive list of movies and shows that have been done here.
We started the tour in “the jungle” which OMG this place has SO much history! I totally felt like one of the PLL's in the woods, doing something I knew I shouldn't be doing. I stood in the exact spot the Liars “pushed” Wilden's car into the lake – and learned the secret of how the show actually put that magic together without ruining a car! – Note: “this lake” (It's drained in the photo), is also the same lake the Luke pushes Jess into during Gilmore Girls! WHATTTT!?
Oh no… the mind-blowing amazingness doesn't stop there… Off to the side of this area is a shack. This shack was probably one of my favorite moments of the tour. Thom points out that this is in fact the garden shed that Lorelai raised Rory in behind the Inn… This shack is also the shack that Dexter lives in during the finale… This shack is also where Chuck is helped when kidnapped… This shack is also where creepy stuff goes down in PLL… MY HEAD ALMOST EXPLODED. The amount of worlds that collided in that moment for me left my head spinning! I want to go back on the tour just to get more questions answered. I was in constant awe and shock that the whole day after this moment.
Also over in this area is Mrs. DiLaurentis' house from Pretty Little Liars!
It's actually just a facade! Those doors lead nowhere!
From “The Jungle” we drove through Warner Village, which is a street of homes. These homes are actually writer's offices! Since the street wasn't being used for filming, it was really cool to see writers coming out of the houses, notebooks in hand, and hopping into golf carts – I could only dream they were off to share their latest magical scripts with the big wigs!
This street is also where “Christophers” parent's house is from Gilmore Girls! Just paint the door red and ditch the columns!
From there we headed to some office buildings. This was unbelievably cool, although the photos do not look like much… So basically it's two office buildings connected via an overhang. Thom explained to us how the doors were set to the street on each side were intentional – one was intended to be a “high end” hotel or entry way and the other was intended for a more “hospital” feel. I once again, totally geeked out at this moment, as I recalled all the times we saw The Awesomes (from Chuck), heading in and out of the hospital for work – and found myself once again geeking out during the Gilmore Girls revival as this also is the lobby level of the “Sandee Says” offices! (Thom did not tell me that during the tour, I noticed it while watching!)
From there we drove past costumes, and some other locations. Thom then parked our golf cart and said to get off. We turn the corner of some bushes and my heart nearly stopped… I could barely get the words out:
“Thom… are we… where I think we are?”
“I think so… Where do you think we are, though?”
“IS THAT WHERE LUKE USED TO KEEP HIS BOAT??”
“*chuckles* Yes, it is*”
“OMG OMG OMG” – literally dead.
For those of you Gilmore junkies, you probably recognize this as the infamous, Gilmore Girls house. The doors are different, but it's magic still holds. I could barely contain myself when it came out that directly across from this shot was….
YUP THAT SPENCER'S BACKYARD IN LORELAI'S FRONT YARD! SAY WHATTT?!?
Ok, I literally could not even. I was so giddy and freaked out that I totally forgot to crack open the garage to see if it was still painted pink as Lorelai's happy place post Luke break-up. #ReasonsToGoBack
Fun fact: Lorelai's interior was actually a set on a soundstage… However, the BACK of Lorelai's exterior is actually the front of Sookie's exterior – and also inside it's Sookie's house!
Other sets that double? The Kim's house from Gilmore Girls is actually Emily's house from Pretty Little Liars!
We couldn't go into the town center since it was an active film set (also why there is a security officer in the photo of Sookie's house). So we only got to see the Church from Gilmore Girls, and Rosewood high from a distance. We actually weren't even allowed to take photos of the town square because of them filming. We did get permission to take photos from one window since they were not shooting in that area at the time.
From here we headed to the streets and check out more exterior sets. It was so wild to see how things get repurposed.
Two of my favorite spots during this part of the tour included the “park” which is a grassy area with a small walking trail – also home to Rory's “reading tree” and where Phoebe and Rachel from Friends run in Central Park; and The Radley Sanitarium – which it turns out also has a lot of roles in Gilmore Girls including the secret bar in Star Hollow (I think, that's what it looks liked to me at least), and the bar Logan and Rory frequent while at Yale.
Once we finished up with all the sets. We headed to lunch at the Commissary Fine Dining Room, where we ate one table away from Warner Bros President and two tables away from the Director of the Hangover. Of course, no photos are allowed in here. On Warner Bros site, when describing the Deluxe Tour, it says “the place where producers, actors, writers and studio executives meet to discuss their latest projects or pore over top-secret scripts.” — This is totally true! We actually eavesdropped and overheard the President chatting about IZombie stuff!
From lunch, I spotted the “Buy More” for you Chuck fans! Also, I think I found Melissa McCarthy and her husband's parking spots?
We also got to check out “The Mill” which is where all the wood stuff is done
We explored “Post-Production,” where I was completed fascinated by the Audio area and Foley Stage. First of all the entire Audio department has the theme of being in a London train station, how cute?
But the Foley stage was probably the most fascinating part of the day. You walk into this room that looks like a junkyard. But it has so much magic in everything. In the photo above, you see all those different woods and tiles? It's so the audio engineers can re-create what walking sounds like depending on the type of “floor” the scene was shot on. Below, the first photo are locks, to get the sound of a turning key just right depending on the type of lock, and the kitchen has three sinks with ever material kitchenware you could think of! The textures and thoroughness of this room must be seen in person!
We also stopped by the Warner Bros prop house, which is a top revenue generator! Studios from all over come to their warehouse to rent props! People can even come and rent props for their house parties or events! It's four stories and huge. The second floor is where you enter on. It's set up for tours, so lots of props are on display with a still frame of the movie or show that made the prop famous.
Other notable props:
As part of the Deluxe Tour, we had the opportunity to also go down to the first floor and see how they categorize all of the props!
Not gonna lie, that cadaver/ “medical” section was so fun!
While Pretty Little Liar's had already wrapped for the moment. We found the PLL prop truck left open!!
I am obsessed with Ellen. In fact, no joke, one of the major reasons I started my own business was so that I could watch Ellen every day at 4. She and the Today show are the only reasons I still have cable. I cannot get enough of her. After watching the episode where Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Anniston gave Ellen her stage plaque, I've always wanted to snap a photo with it! CHECK! Although, I will say it felt like cruel and unusual torture – as I snapped this photo I could hear the audience screaming inside, I felt like I was literally going to dieeee I want to go in so bad! To be so close, yet so far away! *BREATHES IN GRATITUDE, BREATHES OUT GRATITUDE* Still crossing my fingers that I will some day get to meet her. Can we start a campaign or something #GetTCMonEllen??
The exhibits happening at the time included Batman and DC Universe:
Also as part of the Deluxe Tour we got to visit two active stages (they were not currently filming). No photography is allowed in these, so sorry folks! But we got to stop by “The Real” a talk show and the Big Bang Theory's stage! It was so cool sitting in the audience and learning how it all works!
I mentioned earlier how Thom went above and beyond: I couldn't see “Luke's” because it was a part of the active film set during the morning when we were over there; in the afternoon, Thom drove us back around, trying three different routes, until he got me as close as he possibly could so I could see Luke's and snap this:
Mind blow again: Luke's Diner is actually the Apple Rose Grill on PLL !!!
After the guided portion of both tours, you head to Stage 48: Script to Screen, an interactive soundstage and also where you can get your picture taken on the Friends couch
Aside from the Friends set, in this area you can see the Two and a Half Men Set, costumes from Harry Potter, watch the audition tapes for all the Harry Potter kids, Zac Efron, and so many more, see the models of iconic movie scenes such as Gatsby's mansion, the Inception snow bunker, Caeser's Palace in Hangover
Lastly, the interactive part of this: You can either ride a broom or the batmobile; step into Dobbie and move him around by moving your body, or try out the perspective table (how they make Giants and little people on the big screen!)
There are also some classic props in cases and loads of awards along the tour:
Seriously, if you are ever in the Los Angeles area, I cannot recommend a stop by Warner Bros studio enough. Aside from feeling totally magical the entire time you are there, it's become a super fun game to try to spot the set while watching Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls, and other shows I know have been done there. The entire tour was beyond amazing and all of the staff, especially Thom, is really knowledgeable, welcoming, and helpful!
The only things I felt like I missed out on were:
- Opening Lorelai's garage (which I totally spaced out on)
- Walking through the town square (which we couldn't do since the active filming)
- Snapping a photo at Ms. Patty's or standing at Luke's (which we couldn't do since the active filming)
- Seeing the Full House exterior (this never came up on the tour for some reason and I realized it after the fact)
- Seeing Shay Mitchell and/or Ashley Benson snap chatting on golf carts around the lot (Dang PLL already letting out!)
- Hold a real Oscar (I am not sure if they phased this out of the Deluxe tour?)
I would definitely recommend doing your research before the tour so you can ask them to tailor it more to you. One of the cool things with the Warner Bros. Studio tour is that the groups are pretty small giving you a chance to get your questions answered.
I guess that means I will just have to go back!
Have you ever been to Warner Bros or another studio tour? What was it like?
Looking for some new shows to binge this weekend? Grab my checklist of classic and current shows to binge watch ASAP!
*I was given this tour complimentary in exchange for an honest review