While Los Angeles is known for its horrible traffic conditions, the city itself offers a lot of attractions both free and the ones you have to pay for. While the traffic does get ridiculous and you end up spending 45 minutes driving one block to get back to the missed turn, we did have a fun time seeing different sides of LA. While we did walk the famous Walk of Fame and climbed a mile just to get to a good vantage point of the Hollywood sign, I am not going to cover it in much detail. Everyone who has ever been to Los Angeles or seen pictures from the city knows really well how all of these look. Instead, I want to focus on a highlight of our tour to Los Angeles, that maybe some people don't even know of, the Warner Brothers studio. Besides the studio tour, we also visited Madame Tussauds museum which in itself is an interesting place to spend your time in!
The Warner Brothers studio is located in Burbank, which is just a little north of Los Angeles. The studio is still active and is home to many popular shows of the past such as Friends, as well as the ongoing shows including Big Bang Theory, Conan O’Brien Show, Ellen, etc. You start your tour by watching a small clip narrated by Ellen Degeneres about the history of the studio and any notable developments that have happened over the years. You are then escorted to open sided carts that can fit about sixteen people in order to drive through the studio. Our first stop was by the Records Center that is also home to the costumes and decorations that were used in the Harry Potter movies. One thing that surprised me the most was that our beloved actors are rather short. It was interesting to see that most of the actors are rather small especially since you picture them differently when you see them on screen. In that same room with the costumes, there is also the Sorting Hat that was used in the movies. For those of you who have not seen the movie, it is a talking hat that was used by the magic school of Hogwarts in order to assign the new students to one of the four houses within the school. The fun thing was that during the visit to the Harry Potter room, you could sit on the chair and one of the staff would put that hat on your head and the hat would yell out the house which you are assigned to, making you immerse in the atmosphere of witchcraft and magic. Funny enough, I was actually nervous when the WB staff put the hat over me. I can only imagine how the young wizards would have felt when going through the process! Surprisingly enough, I was assigned to Slytherin, the house notorious for producing villains and characters with questionable moral characteristics. My girlfriend got sorted to Hufflepuff, which is a house known for loyal and kind people who loved to eat and were pretty much very laid back. At least the hat got that one right!
After driving through the studio and checking out the offices of the producers and directors, as well as making it into the “jungle” area of the studio where some scenes of the new Jurassic Park movie were shot, we made our next stop. This time it was in the studio that was used to display the props and decorations from the Batman franchise. We got to see batmobiles of different eras starting with the 80s and going all the way to the latest trilogy starring Christian Bale. What surprised us the most was that the vehicles were real size and were pretty well made. It certainly did not look cheap or fake when we were standing next to it. If I saw a car like that on the street, I would definitely take it for a legitimate batmobile and start looking around for Batman.
Our next stop was a huge warehouse where the studio keeps all of its props that were used for the movies. We were only allowed on the first floor (there are total of three floors), but even within that area there were numerous lamps, chairs, weapons and other elements of décor that would make any IKEA jealous. Our tour guide told us that there are around two million pieces of decorum just on the first floor. If you think that's a lot, then here is another fact for you. The studio has lost track of counting its costumes in the wardrobe. If you were to take out all the costumes the studio has and line them up in a single line, then that line would last 9 miles. While touring the warehouse we got to see iconic pieces used in the movies such as “Casablanca”, “The Matrix”, “The Last Samurai”, “Inception” and others. Apparently all of the props that were in the warehouse were fair game for any other movies. The only exception was made for the chandelier lamps from the movie “Casablanca” as they hold a high historic value. After we were done exploring the warehouse, our tour guide took us to another stage that is currently used for shooting of “The Big Bang Theory”. The visitors are not usually allowed inside of this stage as there is an active set inside of the warehouse, but given that the show is on the summer break right now, exceptions were made. The tour guide did warn us not to take any photos of the inside of the studio however. Fun fact is that the show is actually recorded in front of the live audience. I have always thought that the laughs and giggles you hear in the episodes are put on top of the video in post-production, but in case of “The Big Bang Theory” it is not the case. In order to participate as a live audience on the show, however, you have to purchase the tickets and as our tour guide explained, this is one of the hardest shows to get a ticket to, second only to “Ellen”. Another interesting thing is that Sheldon's and Leonard's apartment looks way bigger on TV as it is in real life. The trick is that the producers are using different angles within the house and use the method of the fourth wall in order to create an appearance of space. The fourth wall technique is when the set consists of only three walls with the fourth one missing. That's where the camera is set to capture the action.
Our final stop of the tour was in Stage 48, a non-active stage converted to sort of a museum for the visitors. There we got to see the iconic Central Perk from the show “Friends” and we even got to sit on the couch that the gang used to sit in. This was followed by rooms filled with different memorabilia from movies “Harry Potter”, “The Hobbit”, “Gravity”, and many more. There was a space suit worn by Sandra Bullock, a guitar that Phoebe Buffay used to play her famous Smelly Cat song, Superman and Batman suits, and even a real Oscar award that any visitor could proudly hold and take a picture with. It is surprising how heavy that statuette actually is! It was almost 10 pounds!
After spending three hours touring the Warner Brothers studio, we made our way to city. Unfortunately, the Dolby Theater was already closed for tours so we ended up going to Madame Tussauds museum instead. As some of you may know, Madame Tussauds museum features lifelike wax figures of famous people from around the world. It was founded in London but it became so popular that it spread across the globe. The creators of the figures create those from wax using the exact sizes and proportions of an actual person they are trying to create. That makes all of the wax figures look exactly like your favorite movie stars, singers, and many others. The Hollywood museum spanned across three floors with countless replicas of Bruce Willis, Beyoncé, Will Smith and others. Even though we did visit Madame Tussauds museum when we were in Las Vegas a little over a year ago, we did find some new faces to compliment the stars we have already visited. I would highly recommend visiting one of the locations of this famous museum next time you go to a city that is home to one. I believe you won't be disappointed!
This concludes my recap of our short stay in this grand city. Obviously, one day is not enough to go to all of the places worth visiting, but we are planning on returning here in the near future to see what other things Los Angeles has to offer!