Southern California is famous for movie making and entertainment, and studio tours can be a great way to see the "behind-the-scenes" movie making. Hoffy Tours has gone to Paramount Studios - the oldest active studio in Los Angeles - and their tour was really good. Paramount is located in a really interesting part of east Hollywood, abutting the fascinating Hollywood Forever Cemetery and not far from the delightful Larchmont Village. But the tour lacked the sparkle and excitement of Warner Brothers.
|The Warner Brothers Tour includes visits to sound stages. Where you'll visit depends on filming schedules. We saw the set for Lethal Weapon.|
The location: First of all, Warner Brothers Studios is located in a very fun part of LA/Burbank. It's in the west San Fernando Valley, right next to Universal and Disney Studios, just north of the huge Forest Lawn Cemetery and Griffith Park. This Hoffy Tour visited Griffith Observatory in the afternoon, making it a wonderful day of entertainment, science and vistas. The WB staff is delightful and attentive, and the tour, which takes place on a "stretch" golf cart for 12 people, lasts two-and-a-half hours, with numerous stops. The tour ends in a really fun Exhibition Room where you can explore movie sets, costumes, film clips and photo ops. The price is very reasonable for what you see, and there's a delightful cafe/restaurant near the exit with great food and surprisingly low prices.
|Water tower with the Batman Logo is a key Warner Brothers Landmark.|
THE TOUR - I felt the tour was beautifully timed and sequenced. You start off with an introductory film highlighting some of the classic WB films, creating a nice anticipation. Then, you hop on an elongated covered golf cart for 12 people and starting touring the studio grounds. The first stop is Warner Brother's fake small town USA. Pictured below, you can see the faux storefronts for any century-old commercial street. The town green can be transformed into any season with paper snow, fake autumn leaves and new branches.
|This studio's versatile "any town USA" has surprisingly realistic turn-of-last-century styles - Italianate, French Second empire, and Victorian.|
|Of course, the town has a Greek Revival church, hollowed out for filming and lighting effects. You can see it was a cold and beautiful day at the studios.|
Our next stop was a special exhibit room devoted to Warner Brother's newest special effects movies. This gave us a chance to explore movie sets, take photos and see film clips. There was lots of attention to the Harry Potter films which Warner Brothers purchased.
|Here's Aragog, the talking spider, for whom Harry and Ron barely escaped.|
|There were photo-ops galore throughout the tour.|
|Tim Burton's Corpse Bride was on full display.|
As the tour continued, another great stop was the prop room. Inside were countless movie props - furniture, lamps, chandeliers, pictures, costumes - which you can actually rent from the studio. Think of it as an amazing studio garage sale with recognizable knick-knacks from movies of yesteryear.
|I could have spent a lot of time in the Prop Room. The amount of cool movie memorability and legitimate furniture was mind boggling.|
|You can even rent the Presidential desk from the Oval Office from the acclaimed TV show - West Wing.|
For automotive and BATMAN aficionados, the Batmobile garage was a killer. It had over 10 different Batmobiles for the various movies.
The tour ends in the largest exhibit room where you can explore for as long as you like. Here are movie clips, displays, models and memorabilia from the vast collection of Warner Brothers movies. The exhibit is oriented in a semi-circle leading to the gift shop and the cart stop to take you back to the exit and reasonably-priced Studio Plaza Cafe. As I said at the outset, if you want to do a movie studio tour, this is a great one. There are plenty of stops for exploring, beautiful sets, informative guides, and a deep well of movie memories. Three thumbs up for Warner Brothers Studio Tours!
|Floyd and I pose in Bilbo Baggin's hobbit own home. Clever optical illusion and design make us look giant in this hobbit home.|
This memorable Hoffy Tour ended at Griffith Observatory for a look at the stellar views (of the Hollywood Sign, of course!) and a trip through the museum exhibits. I can't recommend this Art Deco landmark enough. It combines science, views, history and visitors from all over the southland and the world.
|Opened in 1935, this Art Deco masterpiece is in the top five of "Places to Visit" according to Trip Advisor.|
|Visiting the Observatory in the winter improves your chances of clear views. Notice the two tallest buildings on the|
West Coast - the cylindrical US Bank Building on the left and the Wilshire Grand on the right.