A trip to the WB Backlot Tour has been on our SoCal bucket list for over a decade. We have lived in SoCal as a family three times now. We have been up to LA and I have even been on the WB lot for the taping of The Ellen Show in the early 2000s. There are stipulations for visits there – namely no children under 5. So, we had to go solo or wait until the kids were older.
With the WB being the home of Gilmore Girls, DC Comics films and the Wizarding World, it has appeals for everyone in the house. And with everyone now being 5 and over – we could go. For the holidays this year, our big gift to the girls was a trip to the WB Backlot Tour.
The WB Backlot Tour offers SoCal resident prices. Even as military families, if you have a California address, you can utilize the SoCal Resident ticket price. It saves a few dollars each ticket which adds up for each family member! When we went, the deal was being offered through the end of December 2021, but as of this writing they have updated it through May 27, 2022.
What is it?
The backlot tour includes a walk-through museum covering the history of Warner Brothers from the family owners, a tour on a golf cart around the backlot, a museum of sorts of current movie and show history including the FRIENDS, Big Bang Theory sets and areas set up to explain how they did magic shots. After a couple hours here, you are taken back in a golf-cart to a walkthrough of DC Comics world including the bat cave with all of its vehicles, an interactive experience.
The Warner Brothers Studio is just that- a film studio founded by 4 brothers in 1923. If you loved Bugs Bunny or seen The Jazz Singer, Gone with the Wind or My Fair Lady, you have the Warner Brothers to thank. The history museum boasts timelines of the films and advances in film making, including the addition of sound. The museum ends in a movie theater (which I am pretty sure was used as a set in The Big Bang Theory) where you meet your host for the golf cart tour.
The golf cart tour goes through the backlot and sets. When we went, production was halted for the holidays, so our tour went on the set of Ellen to see what production is like in addition to driving around the sets. We didn’t get off to take pictures, but we saw some other tours stop. I do not know what the norm is since this is our first tour. The golf cart tour ends at the second museum of sorts.
The mid-tour stop is perfect for tv fans. It has a giant sitting area that has multiple areas that look like sets from FRIENDS – the bar at Central Perk, Monica’s kitchen and even the door. This was used by the people ordering coffee and treats from the coffee shop, and by us to explore. The kids haven’t seen FRIENDS, so it was fun to explain the reason for the picture of Monica with a turkey on her head. Once we checked everything out and took a bathroom break, we explored the sets. This where you can take pictures at the Big Bang Theory set or FRIENDS set. There are lines for this. The tour in this area took about 3 hours, but I am sure it could take around 2 without multiple bathroom breaks. Our favorite spots here were all the costumes from My Fair Lady and the sections that explained how camera tricks are used when let’s say, a Giant and a human are having a conversation. The interactive areas where you create costumes and design a bat mobile were favorites of the girls. Although we also liked seeing and listening to the audition tapes or first filming of different actors and actresses.
What does it have to offer?
Gilmore fans rejoice! Stars Hollow is alive and well at the backlot. It was seriously like driving in the Jeep with Lorelei when we turned the corner – the whole town square was right there! While they have repainted Luke’s and Dosee’s doesn’t have signage, it is unmistakable where you are. While our tour didn’t stop for photos there during the golf cart tour we were able to go back later – and actually walk through Lorelai’s garage – the paint is still there! Did you know Stars Hollow is formerly the town where the Waltons called home?
FRIENDS fans can take a picture on the couch by the fountain – bring your umbrellas for an authentic picture.
DC Comics lovers will feel like they walked into the bat cave with several bat mobiles and bikes. There is a section for Aquaman, and a section for Wonder Woman. There is history about the set and reasons for it, plus awesome photo opportunities.
Those looking for the magic of the Wizarding World don’t have to look any further than the Wizarding World exhibit. Get sorted into your respective house in Hogwarts, pick a Mandrake, fit into Harry’s closet and even climb out of Newt Scamander’s suitcase. The girls’ favorites were potion making and wand lessons from the instructor for the Wizarding World films. There are fun history bits, interactive exhibits and photo opportunities.
Gift Shop: There are two shopping areas with the main one where you begin and end your tour. The gift shop in the middle of the tour is FRIENDS centric, and even has a coffee shop with treats and coffee.
Photo Opportunities: If you or your family like to use your imagination to pretend you are talking with giants, talking with your favorite physicist about Fun with Flags or sipping on coffee at Central Perk – this is the place to do it. At the time of our visit, they were allowing people to remove masks for pictures and then put them back on. I do not know the cost of pictures as we did not purchase any.
Bathrooms: There are three bathrooms areas. One at the entrance by the gift shop, a second by the coffee shop at the stop at the end of the golf cart tour, and a third by the Wizarding World. This is useful for the people with the little bladders.
Parking: there is an assigned parking deck for covered parking for those going in tour. Parking is $15 a vehicle. However, when we were there, they gifted everyone free parking with someone waving hello and saying “Happy Holidays!” as they came into parking. It was a wet and a rainy day so it was a fun surprise!
What to bring: If it is rainy, make sure to have rain boots, rain jacket or poncho. The golf carts are open except for a roof so rain will come in and you will get wet. And the seats will be wet. Good news is that it usually doesn’t rain in SoCal.
If it is hot out, bring the sunscreen and hats to stay cool!
COVID-19: At the time of our visit, anyone 12 and over must prove vaccination for COVID-19 or have a negative test taken within 72 hours of the tour. Face coverings were required. I am unsure if they normally had walk-up tickets, but right now it is reservation only. There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the exhibits, especially after areas that involved touching. We saw cleaning crews going through and cleaning off the interactive areas several times while we were there. To read up to date guidance, check out their site here.