Watching films and tv shows is how I love to spend my free time. So, when I travel, a large part of what I do, is track down all the different film and tv show locations that I have watched over the years, whether it is something current or a classic.
And you can too.
I’ve visited many set tours over the world. But my favourite is the Warner Bros. Studio tour, located in Burbank, California; just outside Hollywood.
As a massive Gilmore Girls fan (and with the recent filming of the Netflix produced reboot), I knew my short 2016 trip would be my chance to really see some Gilmore Girls locations unlike never before. Previously, the set tour here was awesome. And whilst I have seen the Gilmore Girls house, the town square and gazebo before; I knew that this was the best time to visit given the universal popularity of the mother-daughter show and the fact it recently wrapped filming.
Warner Bros. however, really did have to bring out the big guns this time to compete with the experience I had on other tours in the past few years, which had seen it pipped at the post as a result.
And boy, did they bring it!
The powers that be here have really re-vamped the whole tour since 2015, with new sets and behind the scenes experiences to enjoy. Plus you can now take photos of A LOT more! They have now made this one of the best tours in Hollywood and hopefully everything below explains why it is a do not miss for anyone.
Before The Tour Starts
Guests begin their visit with a short video which celebrates all that Warner Bros. is know for. This video makes visitors excited as you go down memory lane with everything that you love about the WB; and reminds you of just how much a powerhouse this company is.
After the video, we met our tour guide and sat 3 people to a row in our open air cart. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. She also asked the group what we were most excited to see, to ensure that everyone was able to see what they wanted, as we can’t see everything. It was no surprise that Gilmore Girls was at the top of most people’s lists!
We headed off for the next 2.5 hours to explore the Warner Bros. backlot and saw SO much I can’t even describe it all! So here are some of the biggest highlights that should entice you into heading there the next time you’re in LA!
Merlotte’s Bar (True Blood) / Rammer Jammer (Hart Of Dixie)
This location is really exciting to see because it has been used across many productions. I love seeing it stripped down though, because it shows just how easy it is to change an exterior to match the show…True Blood and Hart of Dixie are VERY different shows, one being a show about humans and vampires and well, sex in Bon Temps, Louisiana; whilst the other is an innocent, family friendly comedy/drama about a big city doctor in Bluebell, Alabama.
Both used this set as the main restaurant/bar in their respective towns, and I really do love seeing how similar but different they are on screen.
Lagoon (ER / Gilmore Girls) & Road Rory Gets Hit By A Deer (Gilmore Girls)
Next to the first filming location, is the (water less) lagoon that has been used in everything from hospital drama ER (where George Clooney saves a boy) to Gilmore Girls (remember when Luke pushes Jess into the lake?). A little further up, is the pathway road where Rory gets hit by a deer in Season 1 of Gilmore Girls too. It’s all right here!
Stars Hollow: Gilmore Girls Houses: Kim’s Antiques / Lorelai’s House / Sookie’s House
Any fan of Gilmore Girls will die to see these house locations. But up until this experience, we had never been given access into them before. Gilmore Girls, for those not in the know, is a show about a mother and daughter (Lorelai and Rory), who are more like best friends. They are fast talking, coffee drinking, pop culture loving ladies who don’t need a man to complete them. The show ended after 7 seasons and Netflix has bought it back after 9 years for a small number of extended episodes that span a year apparently. I cannot wait!
We were able to walk through Kim’s Antiques where Lane Kim, Rory’s BFF lived with her mother; which whilst pretty much bare inside, it is very easy to picture from the show as it has kept the same floor plan. On a side note, this house interior was used in the classic FRIENDS flashback episode, where Rachel and Monica go to Prom. Ross decides to take Rachel when it looks like she’s been stood up, but then he ends up alone on the stairs when her date shows up. So that is a pretty cool fact to know!
Walking out of Kim’s Antique’s kitchen door, we took a few steps outside and found ourselves walking past a very familiar garage and to a house which is the epitome to all fans: Lorelai’s house aka the Gilmore Girls house. Whilst it didn’t look 100% like it did in the show compared to other times i’ve seen it, (the front porch stairway entrance was missing); this is the very house and I loved standing here and taking it all in for the first time in many years. It made me excited for the new series that’s for sure!
The interior of Lorelai’s house was not what we see used in the show however, as this was an interior set on a sound stage. When you walk through the house though…you end up in what appears to be Sookie’s interior set with her lounge room, and the front door entry…which you can then walk out of and onto the porch of her house’s actual exterior. So this is pretty cool! Two sets in one really.
The Town Centre (Gilmore Girls) / (Pretty Little Liars) / (Hart Of Dixie)
Whilst we didn’t get to walk through the town center area, I have seen it before so I wasn’t too bothered. But, it would have been awesome to take a quick stroll through here in any case because it is an awesome place to see. I never get sick of it. The Gilmore Girls and Hart Of Dixie Gazebo was not there, but rather kept off to the side in a backlot area, but we did drive right past it on the way out so they have kept it.
The town centre is these days used in the show Pretty Little Liars, which is why the Gazebo is missing as the show is set in Pennsylvania; plus all the sets have been dressed for this show now that Gilmore Girls is finished filming. Many things have filmed here, like the Eddie Murphy film Norbit and the TV show Ghost Whisperer. The one place to make note of here though is the building that is known as Luke’s Diner in Gilmore Girls as well as The Grille from Pretty Little Liars. Whilst it is dressed to Pretty Little Liars specifications, it will always be Luke’s to me. (And right next to it, is Miss Patty’s Dance Studio from Gilmore Girls too.)
The Fuller House Exterior
Another show making a comeback is the Full House reboot from all our childhoods, Fuller House; focusing on DJ, now that she is all grown up and raising her family in San Francisco following her husband’s death. But the gang is all back too, with everyone from dad Danny Tanner, Uncle Joey, Uncle Jesse and even Kimmy Gibbler back on the scene.
Now, I have actually seen the real Full House house in Broderick St, San Francisco which was used for the stock image of the house, and thus is the very house depicted here on the lot. So it was definitely cool to see a facade of it here on the lot which looked identical to the real thing.
The DC Comics & Harry Potter Exhibitions
Memorabilia is a priority at Warner Bros. and over the years they have featured different things so it does change in some regards.
The entire first floor of this museum, is centered on DC Comics, with Man Of Steel and Suicide Squad key focuses; with costumes and props from all of these recent films. It was actually really cool to see all of this, as I love seeing costumes and picturing the actors in them. It makes me love film making even more.
The top floor is Harry Potter centered, there are a lot of costumes and props, and you can even be sorted into a Hogwarts House with the sorting hat…no one wants to be in sorted into Slytherin though. Gryffindor is much more sought after! So it’s fun to watch everyone’s faces whilst they wait to find out!
The Warner Bros. Park Outdoor Set (Central Park-Friends) / (Rory’s Study Tree-Gilmore Girls)
I love outdoor sets like these which I have seen in various shows over the years, like this one which is just a very small general park on the Warner Bros. lot. This location has been featured in FRIENDS, in the episode where Phoebe and Rachel take up running, and Rachel is embarrassed to continue doing it, after seeing how Phoebe runs.
Additionally to this, in the college based episodes of Gilmore Girls, Rory finds a tree she likes at Yale that she calls her ‘study tree’. This is a tree she really likes, its comfortable and everything she is looking for to focus on her work…so much so that when someone tries to sit there, she pays them $20 to move.
The Batman exhibit is awesome to see because who doesn’t love Batman? This exhibit features the Bat signal, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume and of course all the different bat mobiles that have been featured in the various films.
This really is a highlight for guests, because on film, these vehicles look awesome. But seeing them in the flesh, as real vehicles makes being a fan of the Batman franchise that much better.
Warner Bros. Prop House
The Warner Bros. prop house, is one of my favourite places. No matter what studio I am visiting, I love seeing all the props on offer, that film and tv productions can rent from and use in any productions.
The Warner Bros. prop house is awesome though, because it does feature a lot of movie memorabilia which excites me. Anytime I was walking around, you can bet my eyes were peeled for seeing what I could find that may not be so obvious. This was especially so whenever I saw a glass case. You never knew what was going to be in there.
I was especially excited to see props from some of my favourite films and tv shows like the crown from Miss Congeniality starring Sandra Bullock, as an FBI agent posing as a beauty pageant contestant. Even seeing the floor design of one of the longest running medical series ER (which could easily be overlooked), was memorable as well. I love this kind of stuff, but I was the only one in our group who stopped to notice it at all.
There were a few props from the classic film Casablanca, as well as the letter box from the Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood classic The Bridges Of Madison County, right in this prop house. So if you find yourself here, keep your eyes open and look out for what you may find.
Additionally, we did get to see the closed set of The Big Bang Theory, but we weren’t able to take photos. But it was cool to see the hallway and main lounge room in any case.
Stage 48: Friends Central Perk Coffee Shop Set
One of everyone’s favourite here is of course the FRIENDS coffee shop, Central Perk. This set used to be kept in a side room that guests did see, but now it has been moved to Stage 48: From Script To Screen; which has a very elaborate set up of interactive displays and film making exhibits, behind the scenes information and sets, and just really interesting activities for everyone. You could easily spend over an hour here taking it all in. What a great way to end the tour right here. I loved it.
The FRIENDS set is shown exactly as it was in the last ever episode, down to the writing on the chalk board menu. Guests can have a photo taken sitting on the couch, which they never used to allow; so this in itself is a huge plus for fans of the show to experience.
Stage 48: Other Warner Bros. Exhibits
Whilst FRIENDS is the drawcard here, there was so much else to enjoy in the Script to Screen exhibit, including the Two & A Half Men set, which is another fan favourite.
I also really enjoyed standing in front of different monitors and making the image in front of me move based on what I was doing with my head and arms. There were other interactive activities including the broomstick and how it moved to allow for Harry Potter to film the Quidditch scenes; the Gravity capsule and light box and how forced perspective works (where one character appears much larger than the other person.)
I literally can’t even mention it all, as it would take me an hour to do so. But it was awesome.
All in all, this tour was such a highlight and it honestly made my trip. Considering all I was seeing in the various cities were filming locations, to have this be a massive highlight says a lot.
Do not miss out on this. The photos don’t even do it justice. But, you will love every minute you are here and truly re-connect with all your favourite films and tv shows.
Bring on the Gilmore Girls reboot. I need it now more than ever after seeing all of this!