On a recent Friday, The Gold Knight was given a tour of its studios, museum and backlot. Hop onboard our digital golf cart for a ride around the Warner Bros. lot with this photo gallery.
Just over the mountain featuring the famous Hollywood Sign, you can find the headquarters for Warner Bros.
It is in the shadow of Mount Lee, part of the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California, that you can find this entertainment giant’s Burbank studios.
On a recent Friday, The Gold Knight was given a tour of its studios, museum and backlot.
This working studio is like hallowed ground for those in the entertainment industry. TV shows like “Friends” were filmed here. “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” currently tape here.
From “Public Enemy” to “Argo,” Hennesy Street, part of the backlot, is famous for iconic scenes from movies old and new. (Oscar fans may remember this street from the trailer featuring host Ellen DeGeneres dancing.)
The occasion felt exclusive and unique, but the public is afforded this opportunity daily with the Warner Bros. “VIP Tour.”
It’s been voted one of the Top 25 attractions in the U.S., according to our tour guide for the day, John Kourounis.
Each VIP Tour is different, offering a two-hour customized journey into the entertainment business.
Tour guides answer questions and tailor each tour around the Warner Bros. lot to the people in their tram.
And off we go…
Hop onboard our digital tram for a ride around the Warner Bros. lot (click to enlarge any of the photos):
Our tour of the Warner Bros. lot started by entering Gate 5.
Our tour guide John Kourounis told us he once gave a tour to the King, Queen and Princess of the Netherlands. He described them as the nicest and most polite people he had ever met.
As the tram drives around the lot, you will see a real working gas station and a fire station. There are nice full-time firefighters. (Those temporary sets are highly flammable.)
First stop on the tour was the backlot. Hennesy Street, mentioned above, is styled as a New York tenement street with four-story façades and large storefronts. Oscar fans may remember this street from the 2014 trailer, featuring host Ellen DeGeneres dancing.
Next up is the Warner Bros. Museum, an exclusive stop for those on the tour; you have to be on the tour to get in.
Through April 5, there is a special "Awards Season Showcase," featuring Academy Award-winning films and memorabilia from the Warner Bros. archive.
Props and costumes on display are from Oscar-winning films such as "Casablanca," "Argo" and "American Sniper."
Take a look at these winning Best Picture envelopes from the Oscars (above). A ceremony ticket (below) from the 28th Academy Awards, from March 21, 1956, is also something to see at the special exhibit.
The first floor of the museum features a celebration of the 75th anniversary of DC Comics' "Batman." The 2014 exhibit has been extended through at least May. It's a must-see for any Batman fan.
The second floor is dedicated to most successful franchise ever, "Harry Potter."
The second floor may get a makeover in the coming months, but "Harry Potter" will remain, according to Kourounis.
The costume and prop department is bustling. Trucks from Universal and Disney are parked nearby. Kourounis, our tour guide, tells us other companies come to Warner Bros. to rent from its large collection.
With the famous logo on its side and mountains in the background, Stage 16 is the tallest soundstage in North America. "Shameless" currently films there, according to Kourounis.
Then, we're off to the Car Vault. Right now, it’s dedicated to all things Batman (through at least May), as is the first floor of the museum.
The vault, located on the studio lot, has a selection of the Dark Knight’s most iconic vehicles, including the Bathammer, Bat-Pod and Tumbler. The Bat-Signal, a working and touchable prop, is also on display.
After leaving the vault, we stopped by the enshrined set of Central Perk from "Friends."
One of the best parts of the tour was visiting a soundstage, in which no photos or videos are allowed.
Interest and what shows are not filming will determine where the tour guide will take you. Maybe it's the set of "The Ellen DeGerenes Show" or "Pretty Little Liars" or maybe… "The Big Bang Theory."
The latter was the case for us.
Kourounis took us inside and we sat in the audience as he explained how TV magic is made.
Fun fact: He told us why sets are covered during filming breaks. The first reason is to prevent dusty set pieces, but the second reason was more interesting: cats! There is a cat problem on the Warner Bros. lot. Cats were brought in to solve the rodent problem and now the cats have been known to scratch and destroy set pieces — just ask Ellen.
There are many more fun tidbits one can learn during the two-hour tour, but we'll leave something for tour guides to tell.
And that's the tour!
With 30 soundstages and 17 current productions, every day is different on the Warner Bros. lot so you're never quite sure what you'll see in the shadow of Mount Lee.
Each tour is $54 and leaves every 15 minutes from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Each tram fits 12 so groups stay small. Some groups will be smaller depending on the time of day and year. (Spring Break is typically the busiest time of year.)
For more information, go to the official tour website.