On the Backlot of the Biggest Shows at Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

Think of your favorite movies and TV shows. Chances are at least one of them has been filmed at the Warner Bros. Hollywood backlot or studios. In fact, hundreds of the most iconic films and TV shows have been filmed there. Titles like Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little Liars, and even early DC Comics movies were all filmed at the iconic Burbank studios. Now, Warner Bros. has a studio tour where nearly anyone can get a peek behind the biggest screen titles and, as you might imagine, it was towards the top of my family’s must-do list on our trip out west.

The studio tour begins in the Visitor Center, where you begin your journey with an exhibit detailing the history of Warner Bros. and a short film highlighting the many famous works in the production company’s hundred-year legacy. Directly after, you’re connected with your tour guide and they take you outside to your cart. This begins the guided part of the tour!

Since I was there on a weekend, the only area that was restricted to tours was The Jungle district of the backlot due to the excess rains from the past few days. We got to drive through the various backlot areas, walk around some of the streets, and see facades from current shows like Young Sheldon and Abbott Elementary, as well as classic titles like Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls, and early Batman movies. The carts included mini-screens that played videos showcasing scenes that had been filmed in each neighborhood.

After making it through the backlot, we made our way into the soundstage district. Since no one was filming, we were able to actually enter a current soundstage! While it’s labeled for “The Big Bang Theory” after becoming the main soundstage for the show, Bob Hearts Abishola was currently using the space. We were able to see the current set pieces and walk around, which was really incredible! As someone who has worked on lower-budget filming sets, it was really impressive to see how intricate the lighting and spacing setups were. As a general sitcom fan, it was just so cool to see things I’ve seen on TV in real life and with real dimensions! Following the visit inside the soundstage, we were driven around the rest of the soundstage exteriors and through (yes, there’s a little road inside) some of the set building and prop construction workshops. We also went past the costume and prop shops, but the tour didn’t take you inside. 

The guided part of the tour came to an end, and we were dropped off at Stage 48, a soundstage building designed to be a tourist experience. Inside, there’s a Friends-themed cafe and gift shop and a series of immersive exhibits detailing the movie-making process. My personal favorite part of this building was the Friends and The Big Bang Theory photo ops, where you could get a photo in replicas of Central Perk and Sheldon’s apartment (plus the hallway between Sheldon and Penny’s apartments). For fans of both franchises, it’s such a highlight to quite literally step into the world of your favorite shows. You can take photos with your own camera, but there are also photographers on site. My family wrapped up our time in Stage 48 by sharing a cupcake from the Friends Cafe on the couch of the Central Perk-themed dining area (though you could also eat in areas designed to resemble the apartments from the show). Stage 48 is entirely self-paced, so you just have to wait in a short line for a golf cart to take your group to the next self-guided part.

The final section of the tour is the Action and Magic Made Here building, which features costumes and props from DC Films, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter. While the DC and Game of Thrones side is primarily display-centric, the Harry Potter side is filled with interactive displays (like the famous sorting hat experience) and photo ops that even non-Wizarding World fans would love. At the very end of this building, you enter an awards room and get to hold an actual Oscar in front of a step and repeat! Oscar awards are actually heavier than they look, but it’s still an unforgettable moment.

Like any tourist attraction, the tour ends in a gift shop filled with merchandise for all of the popular franchises from the tour, as well as some Warner Bros. branded merchandise. In total, the entire experience took about three hours. My family didn’t love the tour guide we were paired with, but it was still an experience we really enjoyed and would return to if we are back in the area, especially on a weekday when crews are actually filming.

Have a terrific day!

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