Flashback: Warner Brothers VIP Tour
Anything about the above picture look familiar? Well, if you watch Friends, or have recently started binging on it through Netflix, you might realize that that is the one and only Central Perk coffee shop (decorated for Christmas because that's around the time I went). It was honestly my number one reason for going on the WB VIP Tour. But it turned out to be such a small part of the bigger fun that the tour had to offer.
This tour was on my LA bucket list for about two years. Seriously. After finding out my friend Michael wanted to go too, I realized it was going to be one of those things that we could either schedule and make a priority now or wait another couple years. I'm happy to say we bought the tickets. Although relatively expensive for my budget – $54/person plus parking (that we split) – I really felt that it was worth the money.
We first got a movie introduction of Warner Brother's history before embarking on the tram. The tram took us through the huge backlot. One point the guide made that was interesting to me is how the entire backlot – even the actual office buildings and benches – was designed to be utilized in productions. There were even bus stops but no actual buses because the stop was used for a movie, and they just left it there to be used as a bench.
It was like an advertisement for re- and up-cycling the way they used the neighborhood area of the set. They had one house that had three different entrances and the way that the camera was angled, you'd only see one at a time. But all three could be used for the same movie or show.
My guilty pleasure is "Pretty Little Liars," and this is where they film a lot of the shows so I saw the entire town in one block. On the show, the illusion is that they're further apart. It was just really incredible to me.
In addition to the backlot, we also saw the museum with a bunch of Harry Potter movie items (like me and the huge spider below), and Batman movie history.
Another favorite thing was being able to see how sitcoms are filmed. We were able to see the set of The Big Bang Theory, and learn how they tape the shows with a studio audience (a separate bucket list item). A little tidbit: there's no electricity on the show. For example, what you perceive as an elevator closer is actually someone manually closing the doors. And running water? There is none. They put a bucket under the sink with a hose that connects to the faucet and just runs through that loop.
The finale was going on the set of The Mentalist and seeing a different side of shooting a television show in a studio. This was a treat, and not something every tour gets to do – tours can vary based on what shows are filming, and what's open for viewing.
I went on a Saturday so there was no filming happening. Which was good and bad – it would have been another aspect to see something actually in production, but then we might be more limited on what we could explore.
Essentially, it felt like I was uncovering the secrets of a magic show. As if a magician was teaching you a bunch of their magic tricks of this illusion-created world. Completely fun and worth going to.