Monday, January 10, 2011

California Vacation: Studio Tours

I highly recommend studio tours if you love movies, have a favorite TV show, or if you are interested in behind the scenes!

There are a few studios that offer tours. I found that the offerings change so you will want to check out the options as you plan your vacation. For example - many studios stopped offering tours after the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. Today you will find most of the larger studios are offering tours again but security may be high. The studios that I have added to this blog post are all ones that I have personally toured at least once and enjoyed the experience.

Sony Pictures Studios:
Walking tour. My unique experience with this was when we walked by Adam Sandlers production office. Allen Covert ( ran out of the office to greet us all and shake our hands.

Paramount Studios:
Walking tour.

Warner Brothers Studios:
Electric cart riding tour. This is one of my favorite tours (partly because some of our favorite shows were recorded there) so we went on it a few times over the years.

The old "Back to the Future" Clock Tower
(has been modified many times)

This is dated - the old ER emergency room entrance!

This is from the inside of the ER emergency room entrance.
It's much smaller than you would think.  Also, you can see a portion
of the cart we rode on.

Universal Studios:
Electric cart/tram riding tour. This is part of your admission to Universal Studios theme park. I will blog more about this later in a specific post all about Universal Studios theme park. You will get a good riding tour with regular price admission but if you want the deluxe studio tour I recommend the VIP option. You won't have a lot of extra time for amusement park rides but you will have access to some of lot that regular park guests will not get.

It's actually been a while since I have gone on a studio tour. Now that I have young children it's not as convenient but I do plan to go again as soon as they (my children) are old enough to appreciate it! Most studios have a minimum age for participants. I have a lot of great memories of the tours I went on but I honestly wasn't sure in some cases which studio I was at so I decided to share some of my memories in my "tips" since I can't assign them to a studio at this time. No matter which tour you go on I'm sure it will be a great experience!

My tips:

• Reservations are highly recommended and usually required!
• Look at the tour options - some offer upgraded tours that you might want to consider.
• If you have a specific TV show or game show that you like I'd recommend visiting that studio. If they are not taping during your visit you may get to explore the "stages" that they record from.
• Late spring and summer visits you will mostly see movies in production and empty stages from shows that will be in production again for the coming year. I was once able to see a remodeled stage for a popular game show that wasn't airing the new look until the following month. At that same studio I was able to watch a live taping of a portion of the show "Extra" and meet the host.
• Fall and winter visits you will see movies and possibly some rehearsal for shows that are preparing to tape an episode. I once was able to sit in on a rehearsal for the Drew Carey show (it was Drew and another actor). We also had a unique opportunity to question a creator of a popular game show (he happened to be visiting the stage when we were touring it).
• Most tours do not allow cameras or video but ask when you book your tour. During one tour I didn't want to leave my camera with security so I left it in my car. I later found out that they allowed pictures and I really missed out on some cool stuff!
• Studios are always changing so there's something new every time you visit!
• Look around - you never know who you will see!

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