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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood’s Grand Reopening 2021

By Eric Harris

Entrance to the all-new Action and Magic Made Here experience!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is back and better than ever after a 15-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, Things To Do in LA attended the Media Preview Day for the Studio Tour’s grand re-opening. Warner Bros. Studio Tour has been a long-time TTDILA favorite. Our site visit was long overdue since our last review was for 2018’s Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights Experience (see review here).

Wow! The Studio Tour has been significantly updated and improved with a new “Storytelling Showcase,” an expanded Central Perk Café, and the all-new grand finale “Action and Magic Made Here” featuring DC Universe and Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts. Check out this review’s pictures! AMAZING! 

Recreated Herbology Classroom set from the Harry Potter series

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is a behind-the-scenes look at a real “Hollywood” working film and TV studio combined with museum-like exhibits and interactive experiences that explore Warner Bros. history. When we write “museum,” we do not mean a boring, stuffy museum. This is Hollywood — think special effects, costumes, props, multiple Batmobiles, movie sets, and more!

Bat Pod from The Dark Night (2008)

Be sure to bring a good camera and a friend (or Friends)! Get the reference? If you don’t get the reference, you will.

The “standard” Studio Tour is an approximately three-hour experience consisting of a 1 hour 15-minute guided tour of the famous Warner Bros. Studio backlots, followed by approximately two-hours of a self-paced, self-guided tour with interactive experiences, photo opportunities, dining, and shopping. 

Jack Warner's hardbound scripts

The Studio Tour experience begins with the all-new Storytelling Showcase. The exhibit includes Warner Bros. historical artifacts and memorabilia and prepares visitors for what to expect on the tour. Don’t forget to take a selfie in front of the model of the iconic Warner Bros. Water Tower!

Model of Warner Bros. Water Tower

Next up is the guided backlot tour. If you have not been on a studio tour before, the experience is captivating. Backlots are exterior filming sets, and thousands of films, television shows, and commercials have been filmed at the Warner Bros. campus. You get a strange sense of déjà vu as you tour the backlots where building façades look familiar. That’s because you’ll recognize locations and architectural details from your favorite movies and television shows. Warner Bros.’ “Mid-West Street” alone has been featured in more than 400 movies and television shows. 

Behind-the-scenes media production

The actual backlot tour routes and content changes depending on the day’s production schedule. You are almost guaranteed to see behind-the-scenes filming or TV productions. There are actors and media professionals on the campus, so do not be surprised if you catch sight of a celebrity or two – your mileage may vary. As you will soon discover, the show Friends is a big deal for Warner Bros. If that show is your thing too, and you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance for a photo op on the actual couch in front of the real fountain used in the Friends opening credits.

Actress Maggie Wheeler, known for her role of “Janice” on Friends, discussing updated Studio 48 Friends experience. (June 24, 2021)

Patty Jenkins, award-winning director of Wonder Woman (2017) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), discussing the new Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood with press. (June 24, 2021)

Next up is Stage 48. This is where the “self-guided” tour (and most of the fun) begins.

Central Perk Café

Dedicated to the hit TV series Friends (1994-2004), a large portion of Stage 48 could perhaps be more appropriately renamed “Friendsworld.” The newly expanded Central Perk Café is a working replica of the adjacent and authentic Central Perk (coffeehouse) set from the show. The restaurant menu features New York deli-inspired food, Friends character-inspired beverages, and even offers Rachel’s trifle for dessert (without the meat!). The dining area consists of recreated sets from the show.

Coffee break with other media outlets on the Central Perk set. Central Perk’s Daily Special: Chocolate Peanut Butter Iced coffee

After your refreshing meal or beverage, you can purchase exclusive merchandise at the Friends Boutique. (We recommend you pick up one of the Friends coffee mugs because, if you’re like me, you’ll feel like a terrible friend the next day for failing to do so.) Whatever you do, don’t forget to take a picture (with your friends) on the iconic Friends couch from the set! This is truly Friendsworld!

Friends Boutique with exclusive Friends merchandise

Stage 48 also features “Script to Screen,” an exhibit full of interactive experiences with an emphasis on technology and media production. There is a ton of fun stuff to do here (that we reviewed previously but were unable to revisit because of time constraints). The TTDILA team was also unable to review what we affectionately call “Big Bang Theory Land,” where guests are transported to the distant land of Pasadena, California. Sigh… The Bing Bang theory sets look really cool from the Warner Bros. press images we’ve seen. We suspect these sets offer great photo opportunities. Imagine hanging out at the Caltech physics department cafeteria, knocking on Apartment 4A’s door — Sheldon style, or sitting in Sheldon’s spot on the sofa. Bazinga! Oh well. We have something to look forward to the next time we visit.

Costumes from Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Next stop on the tour is the all-new “Action and Magic Made Here” exhibit described by Warner Bros. as the “grand finale experience.” It certainly feels that way. The entrance has a cinematic vibe with lush music filling the hall where visitors are flanked on both sides by larger-than-life images of DC and Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts heroes! Fun stuff! This area is fantastic and filled with interactive exhibits, photo opportunities, and movie history magic. “Action and Magic Made Here” is comprised of three parts, DC Super Heroes and Super Villains, Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, and Celebration of Awards Season.

Costumes from Justice League (2017)

Dedicated to films based on DC Comics, the DC Super Heroes and Super Villains section contains props, costumes, vehicles, weapons, and artifacts related to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Justice League, Joker, Suicide Squad, and other DC/Warner Bros. properties. There are costumes and photo opportunities everywhere!

Wonder Woman Costume worn by Lynda Carter. Wonder Woman (1975-1979)

There’s a lot happening in DC Super Heroes and Super Villains with its five sub-sections: DC Super Villains, Wonder Woman’s Study, Aquaman’s Lair, Superman’s Office, and Batman’s Batcave.

Harley Quinn costume worn by Margot Robbie and The Joker costume worn by Jared Leto. Suicide Squad (2016)

Poison Ivy costume worn by Uma Thurman. Batman & Robin (1997)

Superman's Office — note the trio of Superman capes from (left-to-right): Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Superman Returns (2006), and Man of Steel (2013).

Aquaman costume worn by Jason Momoa. Aquaman (2018)

Are you a Batman enthusiast? If so, you have four prop vehicles from the Batman franchise for your superhero viewing pleasure: Batmobile (Batman 1989), Batpod (The Dark Knight – 2008), Tumbler (The Dark Knight – 2008), and Batwing (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – 2016). There are also at least four different Batman costumes. Question — why are there dinosaurs hanging out in the Batcave?

Batmobile from Batman (1989) 

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts is the penultimate section of both “Action and Magic Made Here” and the overall studio tour. This area contains props and recreated sets from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series. Sets include Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs (take a picture here!), Hogwarts Great Hall, where you can get “sorted” by the official Sorting Hat (requires free Harry Potter Fan Club app), Wand Choreography, Potion Making, Herbology, and Newt’s Shed.

Silicone figure of Dobby the House-Elf created for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2001)

The recreated Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts sets look, as you might guess, “fantastic” with vibrant colors, amazing texture, and intricate detail. Pictures do not do these sets justice!

Newt Scamander’s Shed from the Fantastic Beasts series. Keep an eye out for surprises in the animated windows!

Newt Scamander’s Shed (detail)

Herbology Classroom set from the Harry Potter series

Potions Classroom set from the Harry Potter series

Brew your own magical potions at the interactive Potions Classroom set from the Harry Potter series

Action and Magic Made Here and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour concludes with the Celebration of Awards Season exhibit. This (small) room contains props, awards, costumes, and other artifacts from the Warner Bros. archives. Have you ever wanted to hold an Oscar award? This is your chance. Watch out - those suckers are heavier than you would think! Make sure you bring along a friend to commemorate this momentous occasion.

Academy Award of Merit (Oscar statuette) for "So Much for So Little" 1949.

The Studio Tour exits through the huge new and open to the public Warner Bros. Studio Store that features exclusive merchandise. For friends or loved ones in your life who crave Warner Bros. memorabilia, you can add this store to your go-to shopping destination list. If Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, and “wizardry” excite you, you can revel in an exclusive selection of magical wands only available at the Warner Bros. Studio Store. For everyone else, there is a wide selection of souvenirs, gifts, and apparel that can only be found here.

Warner Bros. Studio Store

Extensive wand selection from the Wizarding World

Last chance for a Friends coffee mug

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is highly recommended by the TTDILA team. There are several studio tours in the Los Angeles area. This tour is one of best. If you have never visited a working movie set, you owe it to yourself to experience how Hollywood magic is made. Entertainment, art, movie-making history, and culture — all wrapped into one convenient location. Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is one of the better Things To Do in LA.

Patty Jenkins, award-winning director of Wonder Woman (2017) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), discussing the new Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood with press. (June 24, 2021).

Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
3400 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
Thursday through Monday
9am – 3:30pm
Tickets start at $57. Price varies by date and age. Advance reservations currently required. No walk-up tickets.

"That's all folks"