Movie studio tours

I’m considering going on a studio tour before leaving California, but I don’t know anything about any of them. The only one I’m not considering is Disney.

Have you been to one? Which is the best and why?

When I was a kid, I did the Universal tour. That was when it was still a true working studio (maybe parts of it still are, I don’t know). There was scattered shooting going on on various parts of the tour, and we even got to meet some of the cast of “Wagon Train” while they were on a short break between scenes.

The only other time I did the Universal tour was when they’d turned it into more of a Disneyland-style pack of rides. “Oh, no! Here comes Jaws!” Splash, splash. Zzzzzz.

Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time on the studio tours. Maybe some other folks have different impressions of the tours and studios.

I went on the Universal Tour when I was in LA a few years ago. It was fun but yeah, it was more of a ride.
Though there were a few movies being shot when we went through. But the part they take you through isn’t necessarily as active as it once was. It’s kinda hit-or-miss as to whether you get to see many movies being shot.

It’s not the shooting I’m that interested in, but the behind-the-scenes stuff; sets, props, that kind of thing.

I’ve heard the Warner Bros tour is really good. The Paramount tour is interesting espcially if you like TV and Film. You get to see the Brady’s high school and the embassy from Mission Impossible. Going onto the soundstages is potluck though so you may not get to see anything.

The Universal Studios Hollywood tour is not bad, if you accept the fact that it’s (a) been Disneyfied, and (b) you won’t see any real shooting going on there (the trams are schedled to avoid the live shoots).

Even with these limits, the Universal tour is a good way to spend half-a-day, IMO. Some of the attractions do give a good introductory-level demonstration of how movie production works, especially the “Hollywood Magic” (visual and audio effects) and animal shows. And the tram tour offers a lot of assorted movie-production knowledge, and it does give you a good view of all the different buildings and settings they use on the Universal lot – I’ve seen them enough times where I can often watch a movie or TV show and identify it as a Universal lot shoot. Finally, to be fair, the theme-park attractions are fun, too (especially if you think Disneyland is too tame).

If you can spare half a day and don’t mind the touristy stuff, I’d say give Universal a shot.

If you got the dough, try a Universal VIP Tour. It’s $125… have I lost you? If not, you get a REALLY behind the scenes tour, going places the big trams don’t go. You ride on a little trolley, with no more than 15 people with you (whether in your party or total strangers). On weekdays, when everything is open for business, you get off the trolley and go inside a soundstage for “Providence” (Fridays on NBC), the sound department, the prop warehouse, and you get to walk around the backlot sets, touch them and take pictures. Plus, the trolley zips you through all the famous Universal stuff like Jaws, King Kong, Earthquake, etc. Then your guide escorts you through the park and gets you priority entry to all the major attractions (i.e., no waiting in lines). When I took the tour, I felt I got the behind-the-scenes inside movie stuff, along with the them park-y stuff. Paramount and WB may be more “real,” but you’ll find yourself WISHING for a giant shark by the time they’re over. IMHO.
Jason G.

Having worked on the lot at every major studio in Hollywood, Burbank, LA, etc, I can assure you that the studio tours are a big waste of time and you will see absolutely nothing of interest. Unless you like seeing the outside of trailers and dinky bungalows, that is…
Save your money and go have a nice dinner in a good restaurant instead.

I would really recommend the Warner Bros. tour. It is more like what JasonG describes in the Univeral VIP tour but at a much lower price. Universal is a theme park, Warner Bros. is a studio lot.

When my parents visited we went on the NBC studios tour. Not quite a movie studio, but they did show us the props and backstage stuff of soap operas a few game shows, and the Tonight Show. Very interesting.


I’d just like to reply to Icarus, who posted “Universal is a theme park; WB is a movie studio.” Universal has 35 active soundstages, and the backlot is a REAL backlot; the tour route changes day to day because productions block off certain areas. 10 soundstages were used for “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” 6 for “Nutty Professor 2” and 4 for “Jurassic Park 3”. “Evolution” just spent 3 weeks doing reshoots in a Universal soundstage, and Spielberg’s next feature, “Minority Report” is preparing to shoot inside the studio’s biggest stage.
At the beginning of “The Mummy Returns”, you see the Universal globe and hear a little fanfare. Surely theme parks don’t do that?