Looking to go behind the scenes in Hollywood?
Fans can see where some of their favorite films and shows were made by signing up for a movie studio tour. Warner Bros. is celebrating its 100th anniversary this spring, so that’s certainly one option, but here are three more.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal first began inviting tourists onto its lot more than a century ago. Of course, a lot has changed as the film world went from silent films to “talkies” and black and white to color — and Universal grew into a massive theme park business, with locations in four countries.
But the famous Studio Tour — aka, the Backlot Tour — is still the best reason for visiting. Fans queue up in lines for the popular tour, just like they do for the park’s Revenge of the Mummy ride. But unlike what you’ll find at other studios, Universal’s hour-long tour is one part behind-the-scenes tour and one part thrill ride. The combination works very well, as movie lovers go from oohing and ahhing over the massive wreckage of the Boeing 747 used for Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” (2015) to screaming in joy as the trams rock and roll in the wonderfully intense King Kong 360 3-D experience.
You’ll visit the immense Jupiter’s Claim set from Jordan Peele’s “Nope” (2022) and check out the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960). Speaking of horror, fans also cruise through the legendary “Little Europe,” where legendary cinematic monsters, like Frankenstein and Dracula, once roamed.
After your tour, head for the park’s other attractions, such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the newly opened Super Nintendo World.
Details: Studio tours run daily during regular park hours and are included in park admission ($109 and up). 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City; universalstudioshollywood.com
Sony Pictures Studios
Walking through this Culver City lot feels like a swim through Hollywood history. The original home of MGM, from 1924 to 1986, it’s the birthplace of such golden oldies as “Ben-Hur” (1959), “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962), “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) and “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).
The legacy continues under the watch of Sony Pictures, which bought the site in 1989 and went on to deliver such blockbusters as “Men in Black” (1997) and the “Spider-Man” flicks. TV shows, such as “The King of Queens,” “Ray Donovan,” “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” were filmed here, too.
Tours are conducted on foot, with a guide providing cool facts and trivia about the soundstages you visit. Our tour included the elaborate sets where “The Goldbergs” sitcom is filmed as well as the acoustically-blessed Barbra Streisand Scoring Stage. The latter is a favorite of John Williams, who scored “E.T.” (1982), “Schindler’s List” (1993) and a number of “Star Wars” films there. Being a big “Breaking Bad” fan, the highlight for me was getting my picture taken in front of Walt and Jesse’s RV/mobile meth lab — aka, “the Krystal Ship” — complete with bullet holes in the door.
Details: Tours ($50) run weekdays with advance reservations, and tour specifics vary according to filming schedules — these are all working studios. 3990 Overland Ave., Culver City; sonypicturesstudiostours.com
Paramount Pictures Studios
Movie buffs will love the two-hour tour of this 65-acre site, which houses the last major studio still operating in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
The company boasts 110 years of moviemaking history, dating back to the 1912 founding of Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Film Company, which later came under the Paramount umbrella. Tour guides do a good job covering many of the highlights, from the classic “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) and “The Godfather” (1972) to last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Smile.” Tour groups are kept small, no more than seven guests per guide, which allows for plenty of informal chatter and questions while cruising about the studio in small carts.
The tour kicks off on a high note, as fans are allowed to pose and take pictures with a real Oscar — in this case, the first-ever Academy Award given out for best special effects, which went to “War of the Worlds” in 1953.
Other highlights include the famous “Forrest Gump” bench and Star Trek Alley, where Spock, Kirk and others intergalactic travelers spent much time. This big music fan also loved seeing the huge Blue Sky Tank, which can hold nearly 1 million gallons of water and was used in one of the greatest music videos of all time, TLC’s “Waterfalls.” Be sure to touch the legendary Bronson Gate entrance to the studio on your way in for luck (don’t touch it on the way out!) .
Details: Tours ($63) run daily. 5515 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; paramountstudiotour.com.
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