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The Ray's Do Southern California!


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Amy and I go to Southern California quite a bit, and I take way too many pictures so I've decided to consolidate all our random trips in one place. We generally do the normal things like Disney and Knott's, but recently we've been credit whoring and doing some of the VIP/Studio tours. We usually visit every two months so if you have any travel questions ask us and we can probably help!

 

Page 1: Universal Studios VIP Tour Part 1 & 2

Page 2: Warner Brothers Studio Deluxe Tour & Paramount Studios Tour!

 

First up is the Universal Studios VIP Tour. We decided to be really nice and let a homeless Australian named Ashley hang out with us for the day. The tour is an all day guided tour with a small group of people. It includes a nice buffett style lunch, and you get to see a lot more of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on. You do do some of the normal tram tour stuff, but they stop a lot more and go slow so you can get some really good pictures. They also take you onto some live sets and other really cool production areas. The Universal tour was really cool because they let you take pictures in the prop department, and the 'dressed' sets. Some of the other places wouldn't let you in those places. The tour does include the Gate A pass, so after the tour is done you can still get in a bunch of other stuff. It's a little expensive, but I highly recommend it!

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Amy and a Bogan ready for a day at Universal Studios Hollywood

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We wait in a room that overlooks the main entrance plaza. They had juice and coffee, and some items like muffins.

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We're official VIP's for the day.

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Haha, look at all the people that can't come in! Just like ERT!

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This is the tram that takes us around. It's really open so you can take a lot of good pictures.

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This was our tour guide. I think his name was Joe.

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The first place we went was the Parenthood set. It was Zeek and Camille's house.

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There is their 'house'

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The entrance for close up shots.

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Ashley, and some rigging for lights!

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Is there a Disney spy working for Universal?

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Welcome home Amy!

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No ceiling so they can film easier and change the lighting.

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The living room.

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Lot's of little details like this cup.

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Looking down the hallway.

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Ashley's hair points out the lack of a ceiling.

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;)

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In reality I do the cooking.

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Their backyard. All the trees can be moved so they block the walls of the soundstage.

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Another look at the set.

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Here you can see all the rigging there is, and that everything can be moved.

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Don't forget to close the door on the way out!

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More trees ready to be moved around.

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It was cool being able to walk around the studio lot. Saw a lot of cool little things that you miss on the Tram Tour.

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Time for a look at how they make some of the stuff like signs and walls.

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They make random things like planters, decorative plaster and other stuff in here.

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If you need to get into shape, this is where you go.

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This is an example of the process to make a false wall.

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Examples of different kinds of walls they can create.

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Lots of cool things to look at.

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They do take you through actual working areas. This guy wasn't allowed to tell us what he was working on. ;)

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Amy near some props. Looks like we found another spy.

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Be careful Amy, that one pound anvil will hurt your back!

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Where they make casts for different items. I know I've seen that shield looking thing on the far left somewhere!

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Amy just taught Ashley how to count to two!

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Make fun of me again and I will beat you with my camera baton.

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This is a map of the super secret "Phoenix Project."

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The tour of the staff shop was really cool!

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The sign for the sign shop.

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You guessed it, they make signs!

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They have a lot of cool looking stuff to play with.

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A lot of stuff from different movies. I spy the real " The Soup" can!

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The pictures from Heroes.

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Ashley is just a slight fan.

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Jim, how did this get here? Don't know, just woke up and here it was.

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Next up was a tour of the backlot area.

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Throw in some overturned cars, trash, and body parts and you have the start of a zombie movie!

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Doing some finishing work on the facade.

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Ashley in Back to the Future!

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It was really really cool being able to walk around and take a ton of pictures.

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Joe also talked a lot about how everything works, and what is involved in a production.

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Too bad the 3-D shark isn't at the gas station anymore!

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This was the highlight of the tour for me, taking pictures and walking around the Back to the Future area!!!

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Lots of different styles of buildings in this picture.

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Cool looking building, forgot what it was for.

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Lot's of famous movies have been filmed here. Used a lot as a bank and a courthouse.

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Hello normal tour people, don't you wish you could be here. Every time a tram went by everyone would take a ton of pictures thinking we were some celebrities ;)

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Downtown Philadelphia perhaps? Oh wait, we aren't murdered on the sidewalk. Nevermind.

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Unfortunately, the bakery was closed.

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This is where most of TPR would be the entire tour.

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The water gets very close to your feet in our vehicle.

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You can actually get shots from water level.

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Next up is the costume department!

Edited by jray21
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Part 2 - Universal Studios VIP Tour.

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The costume and prop departments were massive!

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These props were used in Mulan, Kung Fu Panda, and Cars 2 Tokyo Drift. ;)

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This dude creeped the hell out of me when I was younger.

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It's the ikea of the movie world!

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Hawaiian party anyone?

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Anyone remember what this guy is from? I can't remember!

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Jeff Johnson from Jurassic Park!

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More Jurassic Park props

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And one more for the Twins.

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Some props and six kinds of snow for the, the, the, THE GRINCH!

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I could spend hours looking through all of this stuff.

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And you thought all food trays were the same.

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I tried to eat them. They weren't real, but they were filling!

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Need a phone or some office supplies?

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It's a funny squeaky noise.

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Ok, I know i've seen this creepy thing before. Where is it from? The tag says hold for T & D 6

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Some kitchen supplies from my grandmas house.

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Mad scientist and virus movie supplies.

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Now some really fun stuff, body parts!

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Nice!

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Where you end up if you are late for the TPR bus.

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I swear Amy, she meant nothing to me!

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This. Is. Sparta!

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Piers' heaven.

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Creepy baby of death.

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The camera nerd in me loved looking at these.

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I bet even these still work better than most pc's.

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Rarrrhhh!

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After Jurassic Park, Jeff returned to broadway and played Wickedsaurus.

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Angelina Jolie was a telephone operator here for "The Changeling"

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Next up we visit little Europe.

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That is actually a real bathroom! Never knew!

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They just finished some filming here, hence the white dots.

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It's......

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JAWS!!!! They went really slow through here so we got to really see it. Really cool stuff.

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It will always be the Munster's home to me.

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Another highlight of the tour was the War of the Worlds crash scene.

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More stuff ready to be installed.

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They let us walk around and take tons of pictures! No zombies with chainsaws yelling at us to keep moving!

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Little did I know how true this would be in just a few months!

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Ashley is rethinking his decisions to be a flight attendant.

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Hello? Anyone alive?

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Nice picture of Amy and Ashley, terrible picture of almost the width of both of them Joey.

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It was really cool to walk around it and really be able to see the details during the day.

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In front of the Psycho house.

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They really cleaned up the area. I think Joe said they had just finished filming something there.

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This is what under the Simpsons looks like. We were finished with the main part of the tour and it was time to eat!

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That's us! We were so hungry that I forgot to get some food pictures!

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We had an awesome VIP Tour!

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Thanks for the photos!

I've been to USH dozens of times but never did the VIP experience. How long is it approximately?

 

It was pretty much all day. The first half was pretty much the lower lot stuff. You had lunch, and then they would take you through the park area rides and shows. A few people left after the lower lot part since you get a Gate A pass. We stayed almost to the end, they were going to watch the Waterworld show but we wanted to get some more rides in.

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Thanks for the comments! I've been going to Universal Studios my whole life, so actually being able to walk around on the sets and backlot was really really cool. The prop room was really cool as well. They had so many cool props from some really famous movies. It was fun watching the people that were really there working and seeing all the weird crap they were getting.

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Since Joe likes Jurassic Park, up next is the Warner Brothers Deluxe Tour (you'll see in the pictures)! This tour was, overall, our favorite tour. It is pricey, but it covers everything about the movies, and includes the best meal. They really customize it for what the group likes. They don't let you take as many pictures as some of the other tours, but you get to see some really cool things. We got to walk through a lot of dressed sets, including The Forgotten, Cold Case Files, and Two and a Half Men. We also got to see real recording studios, sound mixing studios, Foley rooms, prop rooms, and others. They also have two 'museums' on property that you get to visit. One is for cars (pictures below), and the other does not allow cameras and includes things like the maltese falcon, costumes, and other cool props. However, if you are a Harry Potter fan, the WB tour is an absolute must. They have a ton of the actual props, including the frozen Hermoine when she looked at the snake. They also have the actual sorting hat there. So, for the really bad Harry Potter nerds, you get to sit on a stool and they put the hat on you and it tells you what school you are put in. The lunch was amazing. It is in the commissary, which is actually the high end restaurant at the studio. It is where most of the directors and actors eat. You can order anything off the menu (one appetizer, one entree, one desert), and it's really good stuff. It is included, but the prices are on the menu. My meal would have normally cost $70, so that helps justify the high cost of the tour. Anyway, on to the pictures! The VIP tour is $49 for 2 hours and 25 (really?) minutes, and the Deluxe Tour is $250 for 5 hours, and includes an incredible lunch.

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Here we go into the studio lot!

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For this tour we ditched the Bogan, and had Amy, her Uncle Carl, and Aunt Barb. They are Disney Vacation Club member, have no kids, and love theme parks. They are super cool.

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This building is used as a motel, offices, dorms, apartments, and whatever else they can think of.

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This is used as a high school a lot, and also offices. I think it was used in Police Academy.

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Amy was very excited for this part. This is Merlot's Bar from True Blood! It has been used in a ton of movies, and they had just finished shooting so there were still some recognizable props. But more importantly.......

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It's where they filmed the T-Rex chase scene in JURASSIC PARK!!!!!

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The roadhouse barn, also used for True Blood.

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This has also been used for some scary movies. It even looked a little creepy in the middle of the day.

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"Think they'll include that in the tour?"

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This area can be filled with water and was used on "Fantasy Island." "De Plain, De Plain."

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Just like in the movie!!! (My two second Photoshop job if you couldn't tell. Nothing but the finest for TPR!)

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They use these tree screens to block out equipment and other stuff. They look obvious in real life, but work perfectly when slightly out of focus in a movie.

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This building was getting prepped for a Pirate movie, but they wouldn't tell us which one.

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Look, they're filming a cop giving a ticket. Oh wait, that really is a cop giving a ticket! The WB police really go around ticketing cars!

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Someone recognize this house? I should have taken better notes.

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Another random American street ready for filming.

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I would consider that more of a souvenir than a ticket!

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This is the house from The Mentalist.

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From Chuck.

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House from Cold Case

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American Dance Crew? I'll pass.

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Another working office building that they use for high school scenes, offices, and virtually everything else. I think George Lopez's office is in here as well.

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High tech offices. There was some filming in progress so they let us get a bit closer!

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Can't see much here, but we did see Christian Slater do a scene from The Forgotten, which ironically, is forgotten to even exist to most people.

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It was amazing how many people there were, and how much stuff they had for such a short scene. It was literally a 3 minute scene.

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George Lopez was filming while we were there so we couldn't see the set.

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Midwest Street. You can see some other tour groups wandering around.

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The Witches of Eastwick were filming at the time of our tour.

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Some of the all-time classics like Jack Frost and Norbit were filmed here ;)

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Witches house.

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Hey, it's the Growing Pains house!!!

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They use this in Witches of Eastwick for the outside shots.....

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...and this for the inside shots.

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This was the town square for the movie The Music Man. Yeah, I didn't see it either.

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Inside, the sets are usually empty.

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That's where Two and a Half Men is filmed. They were currently filming so we couldn't see it. Later, they let us see the set. For some reason, they said not to touch all of the 'chalk dust' that was all over the place ;)

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This building is all ready to be made up for a movie or tv show.

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Anytime the cast of Friends ran through Central Park, they ran through here.

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The streetlights look real, but they are just really tall lamps.

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A lot of the classic gangster films were filmed here, as well as more modern ones like Batman and Blade Runner.

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More filming going on. There was a lot of activity around the studio.

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They finished filming some Vampire movie (I think Priest) just a few days before. You can see how much they can change the sets to look however they want.

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This is an actual movie theater that they show premiers and have special events in.

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Just needs fog, a bunch of homeless people, the smell of urine, and then we have San Francisco!

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Facades with fake pictures, and the famous WB water tour.

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Next we got to tour their famous car collection. Here is the Shaguar from Austin Powers.

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The Mystery Machine from the terrible version Scooby Doo movie.

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Agent Smith in front, and an Men In Black car in back.

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Looking at Jessica Simpson was the only good part about this movie.

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Speed Racer was quickly forgotten by most people.

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The flying car from Harry Potter.

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The awesome looking Batmobile from Batman Begins.

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It really is a cool looking vehicle.

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The bat pod.

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The Matrix Reloaded motorcycle from the chase scene.

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Some random bike I want.

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This was our tour guide. I have no clue what his name was, but he was incredibly knowledgeable and good.

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They also preserved the full set of the Coffee Perk from Friends.

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There were two Dutch guys on our tour that did it just for this part! They were besides themselves when we walked in.

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Our group on the famous couch.

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Robb would like a Pumpkin Spice Latte please.

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Next we got to see the furniture and large prop department. I think this guy was from and Indiana Jones movie.

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There are two of these lamps and they are the most expensive items they have. They are virtually priceless, but are insured for something like 10 million dollars!

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It's like an Ikea for the movies!

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The 'President's' desk from The West Wing.

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And to finish off the tour, some props from all of the famous mummy and egyptian movies! We highly recommend the WB Deluxe Tour!

Edited by jray21
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Per a request, I will also add the Paramount Studios tour! This studio has a ton of history, so if your a movie buff there is a lot for you to see. The studio isn't nearly as big as it used to be, thanks to selling a massive portion to get into the theme park industry. But there is still a lot to look at. This has one of the most 'organized' tours. There are a ton of groups going around, there is a huge team of tour guides, and you are given earpieces linked to your tour guide. They let you walk around and through some sets, and we were able to see a real Foley studio which was really neat. It was a little short, but still a very good tour. Currently, it's $48 for a two hour tour. However, they are debuting a special 4 hour VIP tour starting March 2012 for $125, and it includes lunch. I will definitely have to head back and try the VIP tour.

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About to visit the world famous Paramount Studios!

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This is the original menu that was signed by some of the all time greatest actors/actresses. They all just happened to be eating at the commissary at the same time so someone told them to all sign the menu.

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This is the only working studio in Hollywood!

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Stage 19 was used in movies like Citizen Kane and Ghost, and in TV shows like My Three Sons, Happy Days, and Wings.

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This is everything that was filming while we were there. We did see quite a few 'celebrities' this day. We saw some of the cast of Community, and Glee.

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The entrance to Lucille Ball's offices.

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Amy is standing in front of Lucy Park and Lucky Stage 25, where the Lucy Show, Bosom Buddies, Cheers, and Frasier were filmed.

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This was Lucy's office when she owned the studio.

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Remember this Brady Bunch episode where Greg is caught smoking?

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The tree is still there!

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When Dezi and Lucy divorced, Lucy cemented up Dezi's dressing room doorway so he would get a hint.

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Lucille Ball's dressing room.

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What was filmed in Stage 30? Soul Train of course!

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The outside of Glendale Community College's Library in Community.

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Borchert Hall from Community.

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The coffee shop from Spiderman 3, and the bar where Indiana Jones meets his son in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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Time to take the subway.

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What a surprise, it goes nowhere.

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The factory where Laverne and Shirley worked!

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Laverne and Shirley's apartment.

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

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They also took us around some real sets as well. This was Community's, but we weren't able to see it.

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The blue sky lot that they fill with water. A functional parking lot normally, but they can fill it with water and have a filming 'lake' like at Universal Studios.

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The world famous Paramount gates!

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The paramount theater. Tons of movie premiers are shown here, and it is one of the nicest theaters I've seen.

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And the tour ends with the bench from Forrest Gump! Tons of great movie history here! And it's pretty cheap compared to the others!

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Joey, thanks for the awesome look at the studios! You've kinda got me wanting to skip the parks, and hit these instead.

 

They also have the actual sorting hat there. So, for the really bad Harry Potter nerds, you get to sit on a stool and they put the hat on you and it tells you what school you are put in.

I know at least one person in our household that would go nuts over this.

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What was filmed in Stage 30? Soul Train of course!

 

Great reports! I still need to do the WB Tour. Sony's was pretty lame, but we enjoyed Paramounts too.

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Thanks for giving me the perfect opportunity to post this photo Dan took when we did the tour.

Edited by Jew
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