We spent our last day in Los Angeles up in Burbank. But before I get started on that, here’s a little reminder of how we toured the city.
Los Angeles with Kids – Itinerary
Dinner at In-N-Out
Check in to Beverly Hilton
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Breakfast
Griffith Observatory / Hollywood Sign
Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
Mendocino Farms Lunch
LACMA / La Brea Tar Pits
The Original Farmers Market Dinner
Walk of Fame
Zootopia at El Capitan
The Ivy Breakfast
Beverly Gardens Park
Santa Monica Pier
Diddy Riese Snack
Il Forno Caldo Dinner
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Breakfast
WB Studio Tour
Stalk Disney Studios
The SmokeHouse Late Lunch
Drive to Disneyland
We were able to sleep in a bit on our last day and tide ourselves over on the yummy Farmers Market donuts before our usual breakfast at Coffee Bean in Beverly Hills.
I booked tickets for the WB Studios Tour online in advance and was honestly not sure if it would be a pick or a pan. Let me just say upfront that it was a HUGE hit and ended up being the very favorite thing of this leg of the trip when we *forced* the kids to pick just one.
The process inside was super organized, which I appreciated. They had a Starbucks in the waiting area, which was super popular. The day started off with a short and entertaining movie before the group was split up among four tram driver/tour guides.
There are a few different components of the tour, and it seemed the drivers did them in various orders to ensure there was never a crowd. We had maybe 20 people in our group. The archives were so fascinating and one of the things I had researched in advance because I understand the exhibits can change. We lucked out with a whole floor of Harry Potter props, costumes, manuscripts, etc. AND a whole floor of Batman! One kid was thrilled with one and the other kid loved the other.
We all got sorted by the sorting hat! John was Hufflepuff, Whit and I were Gryffindor and Honey was Slytherin. The hat doesn’t use Ravenclaw because in the movie nobody is actually sorted into that house on film. I never knew that!
Around the lot we saw SO many interesting things and learned a ton. It was truly fascinating. We saw street fronts…
…and the tiny little bunch of trees that are used for Central Park in MANY movies and tv shows, including Friends! (I know y’all remember Phoebe running…)
We couldn’t believe how their office buildings were designed to look like actual places that are used in actual shows!! For example, this is merely office space inside but has been used many times as an apartment building and/or motel! He mentioned some specifically but I have since forgotten.
Here’s another great example. An office building that has been used as office buildings, police stations and hospitals on film!! I think he said this one was used in House various times.
Now, what had me dying were seeing places from shows I religiously watch. Hello Merlotte’s from True Blood… I actually went inside!!!!!!!!!!!! There’s nothing in there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PS. This was also Nole Kahn’s cabin on Pretty Little Liars!
Oh oh oh, and because teen drama is totally my thing, the stuff from Pretty Little Liars had me squealing at every turn. I stood on Alison Dilaurentis’ front porch (nothing inside of there either) …
… walked right up to the lake house that was A’s lair at one point I believe
… and saw Hanna’s house (below), Emily’s house (also used as Monica and Ross’ parents house!), Spencer’s barn AND where Alison was buried. The interiors are all filmed on sound stages and since I had expressed such an interest, our guide took us INTO their sound stage. It was SO cool to be at the Rear Window and see the girls bedrooms and such!! We couldn’t have cameras inside but it was a real pinch-me-now moment.
Some other highlights were seeing Loreli’s truck from Gilmore Girls. I was a huge fan of that show too! It uses a lot of the same structures that Pretty Little Liars employs.
When a show reaches a certain level of acclaim, they get their name on a plaque outside of their stage. A few have had the entire stage dedicated to them. This, my friends, was the home of Friends!
We were able to go inside and tour and learn all about how different types of shows are made. I mentioned Pretty Little Liars already, but we also got to go inside Big Bang Theory and the Ellen Show!! Super cool! (no pics allowed inside)
The Picture Car Vault kind of did to the three boys what the studio lot tour did for me :-) All sorts of Bat-vehicles were inside. As well as the bat signal that you could turn on and off.
A fascinating part for all of us was the prop area. This is where the various shows come to “shop” for props. We’re talking everything from lamps to coffee table books to furniture to art to the entire Oval Office. Many items had little tags on them saying “reserved for…” I saw a ton for the new 24 show!
Our tour ended with as much time as we wanted to spend in Stage 48. This super interactive area covered all of the elements of film making – from script to screen – and we had a ton of fun with many of their special effects visits. Of course, a highlight for Honey and I was sitting on the REAL friends sofa in the Central Perk!!!!!!!!!!! Another oh my gosh I’m actually here moment :-)
We loved this Lord of the Rings forced perspective exhibit.
And John had a sensational time with the green screen!
The legacy room had all sorts of iconic costumes and props and all the boys had their picture made with a real Oscar award. I had done this in Hollywood Studios a while back – they are quite heavy!
All in all, it was an incredible experience well worth the cost! We had to fudge on Whit’s age a bit and claim him as 8 :-) Also, I read all about all the different tours and prices and ended up just doing the basic “Studio Tour” – all of this was included. I would absolutely recommend this tour!
Now, since we were all the way in Burbank and there is no way to get inside the Disney Studios short of an Adventures by Disney trip or career change and relo, Honey was happy to drive me around the block multiple times so that I could scope out as much as possible. It would have been a shame to come all that way and not at least sneak a peek!
The animation building!! Love the sorcerer hat!!
The main gates and magical po-po.
The water tower. And notice the film reels painted on the side of the building.
This is our first sign that “we had arrived”. We came down a street and I immediately spied the fence posts!
I loved this detail… look at the dwarfs holding up the building!!
Anyhoo, so that was just a quick ride around the block a few times. And then we headed to lunch at The SmokeHouse.
I really wasn’t sure where to eat in Burbank, but had read a few things that this was an old hangout of Walt’s and various other movie stars and big wigs. So why not!? What sealed the deal was seeing an old friend that lives in LA “check in” here on Facebook a week before we went. Done!
It reminded me a lot of the old Johnny Harris in Savannah. Exceptional service, pretty good food (and great cheese bread), and an undeniable sense of everyone that had come before you. It was one of those rare places where I truly wished the walls could talk. And, in a way, I guess they did. I spent a good deal of time looking at all the pictures – some headshots, but others very candid, of stars from all genres and times.
I’m so glad we went!
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED