Best LA Studios to Tour

Best LA Studios to Tour

Tours of LA studios take visitors behind the scenes of their favorite television shows and films By: Molly Montgomery
Guests can experience the city’s rich motion picture history by touring LA studios such as Paramount Pictures. // © 2013 Mindy Poder
Guests can experience the city’s rich motion picture history by touring LA studios such as Paramount Pictures. // © 2013 Mindy Poder

Travel back to the golden days of Hollywood through a tour of one of the motion picture studios of Los Angeles. While visiting the sets and props of their favorite films, clients also have the chance of running into a celebrity or two. Visitors should keep in mind that itineraries of the tours below may vary depending on which soundstages or back lots are currently in use.

Warner Bros. Studios
Warner Bros. Studios offers VIP and Deluxe studio tours that take guests to the sets of “The Last Samurai,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Casablanca,” “The West Wing” and “Gilmore Girls,” among others. Watch out for stars too, as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” are among the programs currently filming on the Warner Bros. Lot.

VIP tours run for two hours and 15 minutes and are $52 per person. Deluxe tours, which are five hours long and $250 per person, feature exclusive tours of craft shops where props are created, a visit to a working production set and dinner at the Commissary Fine Dining Room. Group tours with a minimum of 24 guests are also available by calling 818-977-1943. Visitors must be eight years and up to participate in the tours.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures is the only large movie studio that still remains in Hollywood, and visitors who tour it will likely see the Hollywood sign from within the studio lot. On the regular two-hour studio tour, visitors will see the original bench used in “Forrest Gump,” a New York set where “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was filmed and a studio cafe which is featured on “Glee” as the restaurant Breadsticks, among other highlights.

On the VIP studio tour, which is four-and-a-half hours long, visitors will have access to the studio’s archive and production facilities, allowing them to see studio props from as far back as 100 years ago. Tours are available for ages 10 and up.

Studio tours are $48 per person, while VIP tours are $165 per person and include a complimentary lunch and a souvenir photo.

Universal Studios Hollywood
While a tour of Universal Studios Hollywood is only available as a ride in the theme park, it certainly is a highlight for visitors. Visitors should not expect the traditional studio tour. Instead, the Studio Tour draws visitors into the world of cinema through special effects and staged action that will give guests the sense they are in a movie. During the ride, visitors sit onboard a studio tram, and encounter the plane crash from “The War of the Worlds,” Wisteria Lane from “Desperate Housewives” and the infamous Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” The tour is narrated by Jimmy Fallon, who speaks via a video guide. 

For those seeking a more authentic studio tour experience, Universal Studios also offers a VIP Studio Tour with purchase of a VIP Experience ticket to the park. This tour is more personalized, since it is capped at groups of 15. Visitors have the chance to stroll around the sets where movies such as “Back to the Future” and “Spartacus” were filmed, and they can also visit the sound stages of current television productions. 

The most exclusive way to view the park is via a Private VIP experience, which can be personalized by calling 818-622-8477.

Regular admission to the park is $84 for adults. The VIP experience, which includes other benefits in the theme park such as priority seating on rides and attractions, is $299.

Sony Pictures Studios
Located in Culver City, Calif., Sony Pictures Studios was formerly the MGM Studios, where iconic movies such as “The Wizard of Oz” were filmed. On Sony’s public tours, visitors will see sound stages where movies and television shows such as “Men in Black” and “Spiderman” were filmed and they will hear about the studio’s significant history. The tour also includes a visit to the Studio Emporium shop and the lot’s newest attraction, the infamous RV from the television show “Breaking Bad.” 

Customizable group tours are also available, and include lunch on the lot and the opportunity to experience a taping of “Jeopardy!” or “Wheel of Fortune.” Tickets for regular tours are $38 per person, and group tours can be arranged by calling 310-244-8687. Tours are available for children ages 12 and up.

Walt Disney Studios
While the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., are not open to the public, die-hard Disney fans can visit the site by booking a vacation through Adventures by Disney. The five-night Southern California trip, “Disney Backstage, Hollywood & Disneyland,” includes a tour of Walt Disney Studios and the Walt Disney Archives, as well as a Walt Disney Imagineering Tour. The itinerary takes visitors to Hollywood and includes a visit to the Jim Henson Company, where “The Muppets” was filmed. The trip wraps up with visits to both Disneyland and California Adventure. The tour package starts at $2,709 per adult and $2,579 per child.

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