Hollywood Studio Tours

Every Tour is Different! Read On And Find Out What's Hit and What's Miss!






- Hollywood Studio Tours -

All of Hollywood was built on the backs of the Hollywood studios that began to flourish around the 1910s. You can't take a stroll through Hollywood's first studio, “Nestor Studio”, but you can get guided looks into some of the world renowned studios of today. Sony, Warner Bros, Universal Studios and Paramount all offer a studio tour.

Some are better than others though and vary in price. So let's breakdown the various tours and figure out what are the best bets!

Universal Studios Tour

universal studios tour


- Hollywood Studio Tours -

The universal studios tour is really a combination studio tour and amusement park ride. The only way to take this tour is by buying a pass to the universal studios theme park itself. It is definitely one of the best parts of the theme park though, so if you already have your pass make sure you don't miss the studio tour.

Keep in mind there are usually long lines for this attraction. When you do get on, you take your seat in a covered tram that skirts off down a hill into the back lots of the Universal Studios property, which is truly gargantuan. Back in the day, a guide would speak over a sound system piped through the various trams. It was always a bit of a crap shoot in terms of who you got “guide-wise”. Now days you get Whoopi Goldberg accompanying you on a video display. She's a pretty good guide, throwing in witty quips here and there.

The tour can be pretty exciting at times, like when you experience an 8.5 earthquake or take a cruise past the Bates Motel of Psycho fame. You'll also have a run in with Jaws. Because of these various thrills keep in mind that small children may get scared. You too maybe!

Newer additions to the tour include:

  • Visit the incredible sets of War of the Worlds
  • Experience the special effects from Fast & Furious
  • Set pieces from Peter Jackson's King Kong
  • Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives

The Universal Studios Tour is certainly the most entertaining Hollywood studio tour, especially for families. However, it does have some disadvantages. You have to have already bought tickets to the whole park which can be pricey. Also, it's a pretty set, unchanging tour. No real chance of seeing actors or anything. Keep in mind that the whole experience is fabricated, you aren't really experiencing a real working studio as much as some of the other tours around. Still, it can be a pretty great experience.

Admission

A single adult ticket to universal studios hollywood is 69$. Children cost 59$ This gets you access to the entire park, not just the studio tour.

For other ticket options including multi day or multi park passes here is a link to universal's online ticket info.

Getting There

Universal Studios Hollywood is located in studio city off of the 101 freeway.

Here is a link to a map to Universal Studios Hollywood.

Warner Bros Studio Tour

Warner Bros Studio


- Hollywood Studio Tours -

The Warner Bros tour gives you a lot more freedom than the Universal tour combining both a more intimate tram experience with a traditional walking tour. No video hosts here, each group of twelve has there own knowledgeable guide. The tour promotes the good possibility of turning the corner and bumping in to say-- Tom Cruise. But don't count on it lol! Although apparently sightings have been known to happen.

warner bros studio tour

The studio tour is a little over 2 hours long. You meet in a visitor center and are shown a short video chronicling Warner Bros Studios history while waiting for your tram and guide. From there you are led to an area where you get a snack, coffee or ice cream before you get going. Once on the studio tour you make use of a large golf cart-like tram and also get off periodically to walk around and inspect things more closely.

warner bros studio tour You drive around mainly exploring the “back lot” of Warner Bros visiting different sets where movies of old and movies of today have been shot. If you're a classic movie buff it's cool seeing street sets like “french street” where scenes from “Casablanca” were filmed. The various outdoor streets and backdrops are often still used for filming today and your guide will fill you in on what movies have made use of them lately.

When I went we got to see some really cool "auto" stars, like the "tumbler" from Batman Begins. In comparison with the universal tour, you never really know what you're gonna get at Warner Bros. A lot depends on what is going on there at the time. For example you could find yourself in one of the sound mixing stages and witness the orchestra recording tracks for a particular movie.

You always get to to get off and explore one of the large stages where different movies and tv shows are filmed. Last time I was on the tour, we got led around the sets for “Cold Case” and “ER”

An interesting part of this studio tour is the new Warner Bros museum that houses a lot of classic Hollywood memorabilia as well as props, costumes from newer blockbusters like the Harry Potter series.

This was a pretty darn good tour when I went on it. You should be somewhat interested in movie making however, if you're looking more for entertainment, the universal tour is probably a better bet.

Admission

One major drawback is the price. It costs 45$ per person. No children under 8 years old are allowed. They recommend you purchase your tickets before hand and arrive 20 minutes before your tour starts.

You can also sign up for a 5 hour super in depth deluxe tour for 195$. On this tour you get to speak with real industry workers about their particular crafts, go onto real sets and speak with key crew people as well as eat in the studio cafeteria where everybody on the lot eats, including the actors.

You should probably buy your tickets before hand, either by phone 818-972-8687 or via their website.

Hours

The tours depart Monday-Friday. They run from 8:20 to 4:00 pm.

Parking

5$. You park in parking lot N (gate 6) right around the corner from the main gate on Avon street.

Directions

Here is a link to a map of Warner Bros Studios.

Paramount Studios Tour

Paramount Studios gate

- Hollywood Studio Tours -

The paramount tour lasts about 2 hours and is pretty pretty bare bones. The main thing going for it is the nice architecture and “feel” of the studio, located in the middle of Hollywood. The Bronson gate especially, is a beautiful and classic sight. The tour starts off at the gift shop (you'd think it would end there). You buy your tickets here. You ride an 8 person golf cart around. The small number of people is nice.

From my experience, and I've heard the same from others, the guides on the Paramount tour tend to be young and unpolished. This is the least scripted or packaged tour there is. I think a lot of the tour depends on what is happening on the lot that particular day.

Other than seeing the “New York” street set, which was pretty cool, our guide tried and failed to get us into a few of the stages to witness some filming. Both times they were either “rolling” or rehearsing so our guide sheepishly moved on. Most of the rest of the tour involves looking at the outside of the white/beige buildings on the lot.

Over all I wouldn't recommend the Paramount studio tour, both the Sony and Warner Bros tours are similar but better. If you want you can take a drive up Melrose to Bronson avenue and get a look and a picture of the famous “Bronson” gate.

Admission

The tour is 35$ per person. Nobody under 12 allowed.

Hours

Monday-Friday

Times vary through the day but reservations must be made. For reservations call 323-956-1777.

Parking

You can park in a lot across from the Bronson gate for around 5$ or you can try and find metered parking, which is scattered around the side streets.

Getting There

When you get there walk through the new Melrose double gate (not the Bronson gate) to get a wrist band from security. They will then direct you to the gift shop to buy your tickets.

Here is a link to a map to Paramount Studios.

Sony Pictures Studio Tour (formerly MGM)

Sony Pictures Studio Tour


- Hollywood Studio Tours -

The Sony tour is a walking only tour that lasts about 2 hours and takes you out onto the large studio back lot that used to be home to MGM back in Hollywood's Golden Era. MGM was for a long time the most powerful studio run under the iron fist of Louis B. Mayer, who has always gotten the short end of the stick in Hollywood folklore. He is rumored to have set up marriages for gay stars, covered up murders and sweep numerous scandals under the rug. Who knows how many of this rumors are true but on thing is for sure, he did create one of the most legendary studios ever, boasting “more stars than there are in heaven”.

Sony bought this lot in 1990 and actually just went through a major renovation, so there are some pretty interesting buildings to see. As with most tours it's hard to predict what you will see. A visit to the stage where they filmed “The Wizard of Oz” is the norm as well as a sit in the Jeopardy set (unlit however). Which stages you gain access to all depends on what is shooting where on what day.

In some ways this studio tour gives you the most authentic “behind the scenes” feel since Sony is one of the busiest studios in Hollywood. Your guide definitely has to improvise at times when certain areas are closed off. This can be both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, you get the feeling you are really exploring a real live studio, but on the other, you can get frustrated when you can't venture into some of the more interesting buildings because their in use.

Since this the most reasonably priced of the big studio tours (28$), I would recommend it, Certainly over the paramount tour. I liked the Warner Bros tour better but it's also significantly more expensive at 45$ so your call!

Admission

28$ per person. Walking only tour. No children under 12 allowed. No picture taking.

Reservations recommended. Call 310-244-TOUR(8687)

Or reserve tickets online at this link.

Hours

Monday-Friday

9:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm.

Depart from the Sony Pictures Plaza building which is actually across the street from the lot.

Parking

Free parking is available underneath the Sony Pictures Plaza building.

Getting There

Here is a link to a map to Sony Pictures Plaza, where you can park.

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