A better (and Lord knows, cheaper) alternative to Universal Studios in Burbank.
Okay, granted I wasn’t much of a fan of Universal CityWalk, but I did kinda like the Universal Studios Tour…that is until I tried to book some tickets last month, and remembered just how ridiculously expensive the whole thing was. Seriously, tickets for four people were going to range somewhere between $240 and $400 bucks depending on how you wanted to roll through.
But suppose you just want to learn about how TV Shows and Movies are made? What if you don’t give a crap about Earthquake simulators, the Jaws Shark splashing your Tour Tram, and the Miami Vice or Waterworld Action Stunt Show? Where do you turn if you want to see the real thing, but don’t want to mortgage your house to do it? Well, you can turn to the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour.
Now, don’t let the fact that I work for Warner Bros. sway you in any way. The Universal Studios Tour is fun, but superficial (and expensive as all get out). You’re going to learn a little about the Movies, but their Tour is really about gawking at old sets and places from movies past. (See? That there’s the house from Psycho. Isn’t that cool?) You’re going through a working Movie Studio, but you’re doing so pretty quickly, and you’re doing it with an army of fellow Tourists.
Things are a bit different at Warner. Their Tour is limited to a dozen people, plus Tour Guide-slash-Driver. (Don’t worry, one leaves every twenty minutes, so there are plenty of available times). There isn’t any motion-control simulations or amusement park rides. Believe it or not, those are just distractions. All Warner Bros. is offering your is a quiet drive through a movie studio, and that’s actually a good thing.
You will stop and visit actual sets. You will learn what was filmed where. You will get out and walk around, and get to see and touch stuff up close. (Don’t worry, the Tour Guide won’t let you do, touch, photograph, or destroy anything that’ll get you in any kind of legal or financial trouble with the Multinational behemoth that is Time Warner Inc..) There are also stops at the Warner Bros. Museum, which houses all manner of costumes and props from Warner Bros. past., and a stop at a Car Garage, where you’ll see prop vehicles from other Warner Bros. productions, like the Batmobile, or the Motorcycles from the Matrix, or the Mystery Machine for you Scooby Doo fans.
Because the Warner Bros. Studio Tour takes only a dozen people at a time, you actually get to talk with and interact with your Tour Guide. You can ask him or her questions. If you tell them in advance what some of your favorite shows and Movies are (doesn’t matter if they’re Warner Bros) the Tour will be shaped to show you where of those shows were shot. Best of all, you’re doing it for the low-low price of $49 bucks a head, which is a fantastic bargain compared to Universal Studios. Hell, $49 bucks is close to the price Universal charges just for the parking.
I kid. I kid Universal Studios.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: If you want to splurge, there is a super expensive version of the tour called the Deluxe VIP Tour, which runs $250 a person. The major difference being you get to talk to some more people, go into a few more craft (design) shops, and have lunch at the Studio Commissary, where you’ll have an opportunity to “dine with the stars”. (Actually, you probably won’t. The Commissary is where us working stiffs eat, and the odds of George Clooney being there for your gawking pleasure are reasonably low.) The $50 buck tour will do you just fine. You’ll see all you need to see, and best of all you’ll be done in two and a half hours, and won’t be assaulted by non-stop gift shops on your way back to your car. (Go to Universal Studios and tell me that’s not true).
Also, the VIP Studio Tour has started to be offered on weekends. The weekend I went was apparently the first week they offered it. It’s actually not a bad way to go, all things considered. The Studio Backlot is a bit of a ghost-town, but again…that’s a good thing. If you’re here just to learn, it’s perfect. If you want a mathematically-low (as in Lottery ticket low) shot at seeing someone famous while you’re on the tour, I guess you’ll have to roll on the weekdays.
I do feel back for my fellow wage slaves having to work on the weekends though.
PARKING: Parking is $7 bucks, unless you’re lucky enough to get a spot on Warner Blvd. (Yes, there is an actual Warner Blvd.) But if you get Street Parking, try to park where you see Office-like buildings. We do have some residential units along Warner and Avon, and we try to be courteous to our neighbors.
Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour
3400 W. Riverside Dr.
Enter Through Avon Street Parking on Gate 6 (Remember, there’s a $7.00 parking fee)
Ticket office hours 7:30am – 7:00pm
Tours depart continuously Mon-Fri 8:20am – 4:00pm
Deluxe Tours depart at 10:20am sharp
Weekend Tours – availability is limited, call or purchase tickets online to reserve your tour.