Every year millions of people visit Los Angeles in Hollywood in hopes of experiencing a taste of the film and television experience. Although Hollywood was once the mecca of film and television production, today most major studios and television networks have moved out of Hollywood to build expansive studio back lots where land was more accessible in all areas of Los Angeles. Getting access to the studios for tours and as audience members of tv shows is relatively easy. Knowing where all the studios are and setting a game plan of what each studio produces is key. Just over the hill from Hollywood is the San Fernando Valley where Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Disney Pictures, NBC and ABC all call home. In Hollywood proper, the last major studio to remain, Paramount Pictures, maintains a formidable presence on Melrose Avenue. Near LAX is the Sony Pictures lot that has a history dating back to the 1930s when owned by MGM. All of these studios are home to daily productions of movies, tv shows, commercials and game shows.
The most easily accessible studio is Universal. Less than 20 minutes from the heart of Hollywood in Studio City (San Fernando Valley), Universal is more than a studio but a complete theme park. Universal Studios most famous attraction is its tram tour. Leaving every few minutes, the tram tours take guests on a complete tour of the studio backlot. Visitors will get to see an intimate look at various sound stages, cross rickety wooden bridges, witness great floods and see actual houses, city centers and old west towns that were used in hundreds of movies. One of the most popular sights on the tram tour that has been thrilling guests for decades is the Jaws attack where the tram drives along a lake and a full mechanical shark jumps out along the shore to the surprise (and horror) of the guests. In addition to the tram tour, Universal offers a whole park with roller coasters, shows and exhibits dedicated to the biggest movie franchises of all time.
Adjacent to Universal Pictures in Burbank is the Warner Brothers lot. Like Universal, Warner Brothers is a sprawling campus full of sound stages, movie executive offices and various facade backdrops. Warner Brothers offers daily tours of the lot, however they are not as involved as Universal and there is no theme park. The Warner Brothers tour consist of a tour guide and a golf cart. The tour takes visitors through the various alley ways between the sound stages, facades and outdoor sets. The tour lasts a total of a little over 2 hours and includes a stop at the Warner Brothers museum where visitors can see up close and personal props and costumes used in some of the biggest movies ever made. The Ellen Degeneres show tapes daily on the Warner Brothers lot and is ideal for those looking to take a tour and see a live production in one day. The price of the tour is $45.00 and runs Monday through Fridays. There is an upgraded tour where for $195 guests are taken onto actual live movie sets as well as a lunch at the famous Warner Brothers commissary where visitors are guaranteed an up close and personal sighting (or even interaction) with one of their favorite movie stars.
Paramount Pictures is one of the last studios to maintain a presence in Hollywood and offers a combined walking and cart tour of the back lot. Located on Melrose Ave about two miles south of the Hollywood and Highland center, Paramount Pictures consists of dozens of sound stages, facades of city blocks and administrative offices housing producers and studio executives. Visitors looking to embrace and experience Hollywood's past will probably find the Paramount tour to be the highest value over Universal and Warner Brothers as the Paramount lot is far older and has been in continuous production of movies before both Warner Brothers and Universal. Countless movies, tv shows and commercials have been filmed on the Paramount Pictures lot. Guests visiting the Paramount lot will have access to the commissary where stars have been known to dine as well as the Paramount store where shirts, DVDs and other Hollywood memorabilia are for sale. The cost of the the Hollywood tour is $35.00 and guests need to be 12 and up.
Sony Pictures is located south of Los Angeles in the city of Culver City that is adjacent to LAX. This studio lot like all the rest in Los Angeles includes sprawling back lots, sound stages and history. The studio has changed ownership many times and has included names such Columbia Pictures and MGM. It was this studio lot that several classics including the Wizard of Oz were fjlmed. The studio offers a daily walking tour of its sound stages and facilities. The Sony Pictures lot is slightly smaller than the Paramount and Warner Brothers lot-therefore a cart is not utilized. It is the Sony Pictures lot that game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are taped.
Studios, movies, television and Hollywood are all synonymous with each other. A studio tour during a trip to Los Angeles can be exciting and educational and will leave visitors with a greater appreciation and understanding of how their favorite movies and television shows are made.
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