Yes, it is true. My sister, Agent Sunflower, and I are absolutely, without-a-doubt, fangirls. From fantasy to sci-fi (and everything in between), you'll find us EEEEEPing and flailing our little hearts out. Now that we have THAT outta the way, onwards to our latest mission in fangirldom: the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour.
First of all, you definitely don't have to be a "fangirl" to rock the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour (just ask the man behind the camera, my fiancé, Varius Batty; the Studio Tour is packed full of adventures that kept him on the edge of his seat). Where else on the planet can you encounter movie stars on a break while filming their latest movie, or shooting hoops outside a soundstage after shooting today's scene? Nowhere. Except here.
Into the Scenes
From behind-the-scenes to into-the-scenes, the Studio Tour takes you inside your favorite shows and movies at the world's busiest motion picture and television studio. Here, you get the chance to snag a rare and intimate glimpse into real Hollywood at work. When we visited, we quickly discovered that this place ain't no theme park. Rigs, lighting equipment, film crews -- we were totally surrounded by production at every turn.
The 2.5-hour cart tour takes you through back-lot streets, sound stages, sets, and craft shops. No two tours are alike, and guides take you to where the action is. Walk on the set of a hit television show, watch as Foley artists create sound effects for movies, see how sets are constructed, peruse over 10 million items in the prop department, see your favorite vehicles from film and TV up close... the list goes on! I was kinda surprised about how much we enjoyed scoping out cars from the silver screen. I mean, I've never been an autophile (and my sister doesn't even drive). But there we were, giddy as ever.
A big thanks to our guide, Soni, who made our tour totally awesome and unique. A former PA, this girl REALLY knew her stuff. And we're pretty sure she snuck us into some secret places. We made sure to charm her right away, and the result? Well, let's just say we made our Friends-obsessed Mama proud by posing on the self-same couch made famous by Joey, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, and Rachael for 10 years on NBC. Yup, Warner Bros. Studios reconstructed the actual Central Perk set right here. And Soni let us know that this set-up was a tad bit smaller than the original, but only by a fraction. It's forced perspective that made the coffee shop look larger than life on the TV screen.
Some of my favorite spots on the Studio Tour were no-camera zones. And for good reason! We visited a hot set for CBS' The Mentalist, meaning that all the props had been set for an imminent shoot and were jam-packed with spoilers that obviously we weren't allowed to photograph.
Then there was the Warner Bros. Museum, which you can take a peek at on the official web site here. You can't snap photos in the Museum because the flash would degrade the material of real costumes (from some of the best movies I've ever seen, mind you!). My sister and I were completely in awe -- snow suits from Inception, a life-sized Carol and Alexander from Where the Wild Things Are, and an entire floor devoted to the fandoms of all fandoms, Harry Potter.
There stood George and Fred Weasley's suits, as if they had just stepped right out of them. Rubeus Hagrid's giant coat clutched a tiny bundle (which we all knew was an infant Harry). The Tri-Wizard Cup stood next to Cedric Diggory's Quidditch robes. And of course, about to battle Lord Voldemort himself, a dirt-smeared Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter had wands poised and were ready for action.
In the Museum, we even got the chance to wear the Sorting Hat and discover which Hogwarts House we'd call our own. My sister, with her flaming red locks, was mistaken for a Weasley and was immediately placed into Gryffindor (yet I... grumble grumble... was sorted into Hufflepuff; no disrespect, Hufflepuffs, I just so happen to know that I am a Ravenclaw through and through). Okay, I might have revealed a little too much fangirliness there... back to the tour!
Exploring the Back Lot
We really loved getting to spend time in Warner Bros. historic Back Lot. From quaint small-town-America streets to urban city exteriors, we spotted buildings from our favorite TV shows and movies. The best part was being able to hop off the cart and actually walk through the sets (which are quite different on the inside). It might surprise you to learn that the houses are ceiling-less; there's no point in constructing facades that are out of the camera's view.
Then there are those big-city high-rises; a glance upward reveals huge open rafters that are there to house lights, rigs, and any other piece of production equipment you can imagine. And as if that trickery weren't enough already, we discovered another little-known secret: the bright red bricks you see on buildings' exteriors are nothing more than easy-to-remove foam. It makes sense when you think about it. You wouldn't want to spend money resurfacing walls time and time again to make a building look unique for each particular shoot (you'd rather spend your budget on a high-profile movie star, right?)
Will we return for more? You betcha. It's easy to see why no two tours are ever alike at Warner Bros. There's so much action, so much excitement, I'd recommend it to any one, any nationality, fangirls or fanboys, casual movie goers, young and old alike. I could go on and on, but wouldn't you rather just experience it for yourself? Besides, we've got a train to meet...