You know my family loves to travel, but did you know that we're kind of geeky about movies too? We have movie night every Friday and the drive-in is a summer tradition. Date night usually means dinner and a movie. We're fans of the classics as well as the newest blockbusters.
So, we planned a trip to Hollywood to combine our love of travel and movies. We researched several studio tours and were excited for the chance to work with Warner Bros. Studio Tour because it looked like one of the most family friendly studio tours in Hollywood. The Harry Potter stops alone were enough to make my kids swoon.
The best way to book a tour is online at www.wbstudiotour.com. Tours run frequently through the day and there is lots of availability. However, Warner Bros. Studio tours can be popular, so be sure to book in advance to ensure that your preferred date and time does not sell out.
Are you wondering what to expect on a Warner Bros. Studio Tour? Here's the scoop.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is a driving and walking tour. You'll be given a lettered card when you arrive and see a short film about Warner Bros. Studios when your letter is called. Then you'll be assigned a tram and tour guide. Each tram holds about 15 people.
Our tour began in the back lots where a variety of city streets awaited transformation for all kinds of movie and TV shows. We were amazed at how many times the same red brick courthouse on Midwest Street was used in different shows we had seen! We were also fascinated to see how the same building can be one iconic house on one side and a completely different house on the other. We walked around and inside sets and were encouraged to take photos.
We also visited indoor soundstages where current WB shows are filmed. The Big Bang Theory and Fuller House were the sets we saw. My kids watch Fuller House on Netflix, so it was fun for all of us to see what the set looks like off-camera.
Got a favorite WB show? Say so!
Your tour guide can customize the tour to your interests. 🙂 Our tour guide asked about our favorite shows and movies at the beginning of the tour to make sure to point out or spend extra time at those sets along the way. He seemed to be a film and TV fan himself and was well informed about the studio and its history.
Every tour is a little different because tour routes are adjusted around filming schedules. I understand that The Ellen DeGeneres Show set is often part of the tour, but we didn't see it, presumably because she was taping that day. You probably will see Warner Bros. staff at work as you tour the studio, but you will probably not see any celebrities.
Video is not allowed, but photos are encouraged in most parts of the tour. There are loads of good photo opportunities, and the Warner Bros. tour staff was always happy to take group photos for us when needed.
Comfortable shoes are recommended, but the tour is not strenuous. You'll get in and out of the tram frequently to see sets up close, explore exhibits and take photos.
On your own
There are several museum experiences along the tour where you'll get to leave the tram and explore on your own. We didn't see all of those listed on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website, either because our driver couldn't take us or because he decided to spend more time elsewhere. You should also expect that the exhibits will be updated as new hit movies and shows are released. All the fun Fantastic Beasts props we saw were surely not on the tour last year.
We saw a whole building where real cars from the Batman movies were displayed and we were able to switch the Bat Signal on and off. We also loved the Harry Potter and DC Universe exhibits. We were sorted by a Harry Potter Sorting Hat (Um, Slytherin?) and saw loads of props, costumes and memorabilia from recent movies like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Suicide Squad.
Every tour ends at Stage 48 where you can spend as much time as you like in interactive exhibits that tell the story of how a film or TV show goes from script to screen. This is a great museum for movie lovers and it's fun for kids. The website suggests 45 minutes, but you could spend 1-2 hours here.
You can get a photo of yourself on the Friends and Lord of the Rings sets, and even act out a scene. You can order a cup of coffee or cocoa at Central Perk. You may be able to hold a real Oscar award as well. The highlight of Stage 48 was the green screen experience we could ride a broom or Batcycle and see ourselves on film afterward. Photos and videos were available for purchase.
Great for teens
Kids must be at least 8 years old to go on a Warner Bros. Studio Tour. It's a tour that is intended for adults and older kids. My kids were the only children on our tram, but I did spot a few kids in other groups.
My son was 10 and he didn't care much about seeing sets for Friends, Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls, Big Bang Theory and other popular Warner Bros. TV shows that he hadn't seen. He was wowed by the Harry Potter parts of the tour, but thought the rest of it was just OK. My 13-year-old daughter is an aspiring actress and had actually seen or heard of more of the TV show and movie sets we saw, so she loved the whole tour.
My husband and I loved the Warner Bros. Studio Tour too. Warner Bros. seems to “get” what fans want from a studio tour, and has delivered it.
Disclosure: Warner Bros. provided my family with complimentary studio tour tickets for the purpose of review. I received no additional compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
Want to join a studio audience?
Many of the television shows at Warner Bros. welcome live audiences. Go to www.tvtickets.com to see what is taping all over the Los Angeles area and find out how to get tickets to your favorite shows.
Tickets to these tapings are free, and separate from your Warner Bros. Studio Tour. These free tickets go quickly, so you'll want to look for opportunities as soon as you start planning your trip, or even plan your trip around dates when you get tickets.
Most shows have a minimum age of 18, but a few family shows welcome guests as young as 10 or 12. Attending one of these tapings is on on our wish list, but since there were so few shows that we can all attend, we'll try it on a future family trip or romantic getaway.
Good to Know
Where: 3400 W Riverside Drive, Burbank, California. Parking is available directly across the street.
When: Year-round. Tours are offered every 30 minutes from morning through afternoon, seven days a week, except Christmas Day.
How Much: Tour prices are elusive, since they seem to vary somewhat depending on which day and time you choose. However, it was about $60-65 per adult and $50-55 per child (age 8-12) at the time we visited. Parking is $12 per vehicle.
How Long: The tour is about 2 hours, but the entire experience took longer. Allow 3-4 hours total.
Amenities: Snacks and drinks are sold at the beginning and end of the tour. There is a good gift shop – Warner Bros. Studio Store – at the end. Restrooms are available at the beginning and end of the tour. Restrooms are not conveniently located along the tour route, but your guide can assist you if needed.
How else can I help?
Need the best price on your flight? Hollywood Burbank Airport and Los Angeles International Airport are both nearby. Use AirfareWatchdog or Skyscanner to compare fares from major airlines. Then book directly with the airline, rather than a 3rd party site. Find out why HERE.
Need a place to stay? We have stayed at Sheraton Universal Hotel and Hollywood Orchid Suites, which are both located within five miles of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Los Angeles traffic is as bad as you've heard, so it pays to stay close if you can.
Need help getting around? We drove our own car, and Los Angeles is still mostly a driving city. However, parking can be expensive and traffic can be awful, so consider public transportation or Uber/Lyft/taxi, depending on your itinerary. Renting a car? Read my tips for getting the best price for your rental car HERE.
Want to save money on Southern California theme park tickets and hotels? We also visited Universal Studios Hollywood on this trip and you can get discount tickets from Get Away Today Vacations, along with discounts on Disneyland and local hotels. Get Away Today has a low price guarantee on Southern California vacations!
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Read more about our partnership with Get Away Today here.