September 1, 2015
Want to have a nose around celeb-filled neighbourhoods, learn how movie magic is created or see where your favourite film scenes were shot? If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles, make time for one of the city’s excellent film-themed outings, including a behind-the-scenes peek inside Hollywood’s famous studios. Here’s the lowdown on five of Tinseltown’s best tours…
Universal Studios Hollywood is both a theme park and the world’s largest working movie studio and its Studio Tour is the signature attraction in the park. The tour – which takes place on a tram – makes its way through the biggest set construction project in movie history: you’ll see the haunting plane crash from War of the Worlds, come face-to-face with Norman Bates at the infamous Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and experience the terror of Jaws up close. The tour is included with all theme park admission tickets, and a special nighttime studio tour is available on selected evenings.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour takes you to the 10 backlots and 30 sound stages where numerous classic films and tv shows have been made. You’ll also explore two floors of memorabilia such as costumes and props from the Batman and Harry Potter films, not to mention the current exhibition of Batmobiles in the Picture Car Vault. The newest attraction is the interactive Stage 48: Script to Screen which offers an in-depth look at the post-production process from the familiar surroundings of the Friend’s Central Perk coffeehouse. Tickets are available online.
Home to 100 years of movie making history, the last remaining studio actually located in Hollywood offers an intimate two hour tour of its lot. Available seven days a week, Paramount’s small group tours – led by a knowledgeable guide on a golf cart – delve into the active operations of the studio, so what can be seen is liable to change on a daily basis. The star attraction is the authentic urban facades of the backlot set known as “New York Street”, a five acre site which recreates eight separate areas of the city including Brooklyn, the Financial District and the Upper East Side. VIP tours (Mon-Fri only) and After Dark tours (Thurs-Sat only) are also available – tickets can be purchased on the website.
After a successful but temporary run during the TCM Classic Film Festival, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Movie Locations Tour returned as a permanent fixture last year, with year-round, 3-hour tours of well-known LA movie locations. Starting at the TCL Chinese Theater the route through Hollywood, Wilshire Boulevard, Downtown and other neighbourhoods brings the story of the movies to life, with stops at the famous Bradbury Building – as seen in Chinatown, Blade Runner and The Artist – and Union Station the highlights. More than 50 film locations are visited on the tour, whilst simultaneously viewing the actual movie clips on your state-of-the-art bus. Find more details online.
Starline Tours operates LA’s most popular celebrity excursion – the ‘original’ guided tour of movie star mansions in Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills, along with other highlights like the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame, Sunset Strip, Mullholland Drive and Bel Air. Starline – who created the Movie Stars’ Homes Tour way back in 1935 – have permission to drive through more exclusive residential neighbourhoods than any other company; homes you might encounter include those of Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Willis and Halle Berry. The two-hour tours run daily, half hourly throughout the day.
Have you been on any of these film industry tours of LA? What did you think? Share your opinions in the comments below.