One of the things you’re required by law to do when visiting Los Angeles is take a studio tour. Trying to decide which one to do can be tricky – reviews tend to be all over the place. Our LA GoCards included both the Sony Studios Tour and the Warner Bros Tour.
Most reviews for the Warner Bros. Tour suggested that guests visit either a Friends set or a Big Bang Theory set. Neither of those sounded appealing, so we went with Sony.
The tour starts off in the Sony Pictures Plaza building. The exterior of this building has been used in several movies and shows, most notably standing in as the headquarters for the ICS Television Network in “The Running Man.”
Inside, it feels more like a nice hotel than a business center.
Unfortunately, we were a little late so we missed the very beginning of the tour (which seemed to consist of a clip package and trailers for upcoming Sony movies). No great loss there, but we did make a minor mistake – we had to check our back with security and I completely forgot to pull out the camera. So we only had our phones to take pictures with. I apologize in advance for some of the potato-quality pictures.
Shake and Bake hanging out with the Ghostbusters? Eh, why not?
Crossing the street into the actual lot, we first encounter the historic Thalberg building. Named after visionary “boy wonder” producer Irving Thalberg, this building houses Sony executives, as well as the 12 Best Picture Academy Awards won by Columbia pictures.
Thalberg was an interesting fellow. He produced about a hundred movies between 1921 and 1938, but he never accepted an on-screen credit for his contributions.
We went into the lobby, but were not permitted to take pictures. By the way, I’m 95 percent sure that our tour guide is really Taco from “The League” just goofing around.
This area of the lot is used quite often for Central Park. The rainbow is a recent addition, some sort of public art initiative thing. I think it’s a little too over the top, in all honesty.
So why a rainbow? Well, this lot was actually once MGM Studios – there have been a lot of historically important pictures shot here, including “The Wizard of Oz.”
There’s a lot of history on the lot, but let’s not delude ourselves. Studio tours generally consist of common areas and the outside of soundstages. If you go to one of these things expecting to see major productions or movie starts, you’re going to be SOL.
What you’re going to actually get is a nice guided tour of the general facilities, hopefully by someone with enough knowledge to make it interesting. In our case, we did fine. Taco was a really nice guy who knew a lot of good historical anecdotes about the lot.
This is going to sound lame, but one of the things that I found most interesting was just seeing common areas on the campus where the regular employees would stop and take a break. Yeah, that’s a sign for a yogurt place. I wish my office had a yogurt place.
And look at this perfectly pleasant outdoor area. This seems like a charming workplace.