Stepping through the silver screen

Costumes worn by The Flash and Victor Stone (aka Cyborg). Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

Back to the backlot

Warner Bros. Studio Tour has rolled out the red carpet

by Bondo Wyszpolski

If you can’t be in the movies or on TV, you can always visit the places where they make them, and with that said we’re now in Burbank and ready to join in on the new and improved Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood.

Like many of Southern California’s key attractions, the studio tour spent well over a year in hibernation. Right now, through mid-July, it’s just open on weekends (see below). But first…

Jack Warner’s personal hardbound film scripts of some of Hollywood’s most enduring films. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

We’re ushered into a spacious dimly-lit room with movie memorabilia on the walls, most of it a visual retrospective of the studio’s “nearly 100 years” in the business. In 2023 they’ll finally be able to drop that pesky “nearly.” The floor of this “Storytelling Showcase” is actually a large blueprint of the studio lot. In the center of it is a scaled-down replica of the “iconic” water tower with the studio’s logo emblazoned on it. A good place for selfies, we’re told.

Maggie Wheeler played Janice in the “Friends” sitcom. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

Ushered outdoors, this time into a waiting tram in which the driver will wind through the backlot, the one you could have studied in blueprint detail a few minutes earlier. Various sets and soundstages will be pointed out, and if your tour guide is in a good mood it will be a very informative hour indeed.

He or she will then say sayonara as you’re dropped off in front of Stage 48: Script to Screen. As you step inside you’re face to face with the Central Perk Café where you can order up whatever the cast of “Friends” might have eaten when they used to dine out in this New York deli. Once you’ve picked out something to eat or drink you can take it into another area where there are recreated sets inspired by the “Friends” sitcom (235 episodes from 1994 to 2004). This writer found a table in Monica’s kitchen and before long the real-life Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice in 18 episodes of the show, came by to talk about the old days. So that was cool, and she was nice and approachable.

The “Friends” boutique has a zillion souvenirs, from coffee mugs to jerseys. You actually have to be on the tour in order to see and buy these things. Otherwise there’s the larger WB studio store near the grand foyer that’s open to the public with an array of tempting items, just minus all the “Friends” paraphernalia.

Costumes worn by Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

Okay, I’ve saved the best for last: This is the walk-through-and-explore “Action and Magic Made Here” interconnected galleries with costumes and props that feature “the DC Universe” (Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, the Justice League characters, and so on) plus some riveting and interactive exhibits from the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” films. All of this is nicely installed and both entertaining and educational. Apart from the tram itself there are no rides, but this studio tour actually seems to complement the one over at Universal Studios, just a mile or two down the road.

Worth a look-see? We’re all movie buffs or TV show fans at heart, so yes.

This visitor is ready for the tour. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

Tours depart every 30 minutes beginning at 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But until July 15 they’re just open on weekends. Tickets, $69 for those 11 and up, and $10 less for those 5 to 10. However, Southern California residents can get weekday-only tickets for $57 through Sept. 30. Advance reservations required. Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is located at 3400 Warner Blvd, Burbank. It’s just a click away at wbstudiotour.com. ER

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Written by: Bondo Wyszpolski

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