By Rachel D’Arcy
Situated nice and pretty on America’s sunshine filled West Coast, Hollywood is home to some of the biggest and best productions ever seen on screen. It became home to the entertainment industry in the early 1940s with California, known for its year round sunshine, perfect for filming in. We took a break from the city to visit Hollywood, Los Angeles, picking some of our favourite spots to get the full Movie Star experience.
Warner Brothers Studios:
Warner Brothers Studio Tour is recognised as Hollywood’s top studio tour, bringing you onto the lots of some of your favourite television shows such as Pretty Little Liars, Friends, Big Bang Theory and more. Still an active lot, we were lucky enough to see Fuller House and Two Broke Girls both being filmed as well as the sets for Gilmore Girls and Pretty Little Liars being decorated while on our tour – a star is never too far away in Hollywood! Allowing an in-depth look into how television shows and movies are made, our guide asked our tour group about our favourite shows and movies, tailoring our experience to the favourites of the fifteen people on board our cart. We even got to set foot on the famous Big Bang Theory Set as they were on a break from filming. Taking a look at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, the broken elevator, and Penny’s apartment, it brings the world of the screen to the real world. Allow just over two and a half hours for the whole basic tour, and even longer for the VIP experience. You’re also given the opportunity to explore the ‘Set to Screen’ museum, where you can take pictures in Central Perk from Friends, take a ride on a Quiddich Broomstick from Harry Potter and design your own Batmobile. At $60, it is well worth its cost!
The Hollywood Museum:
Set in the old Max Factor building, the Hollywood Museum combines the best of both old and modern Hollywood. The ground floor is home to outfits worn by Marilyn Monroe, images of Hollywood in the 1960s, a dedication to Lucille Ball and, of course, a look into Max Factor’s career as a famous makeup artist. A film room plays the story of Max Factor’s past, before you make your way into the well known Redhead, Brunette and Blonde rooms to get a look into life in Hollywood in the 1940s and beyond. Heading upstairs, you’re greeted by the hallway from the Silence of the Lambs, making you feel like you were on the set as you look into jail cells straight from the film itself. The first floor is dedicated to a more ‘modern’ Hollywood, with both television and film costumes and memorabilia lining the walls. Shows like How To Get Away With Murder, Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, Ray Donovan and more all have props and costumes featured, allowing you an up close look at the clothing worn by Jane Fonda and Viola Davis as well as many others. More recent movies, such as High School Musical, Inside Out, Baywatch, Straight Outta Compton and more are all featured too, meaning there’s definitely something for everyone! The top floor is also home to exhibits starring Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, and ‘Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBT in Hollywood’. At $15, it’s relatively inexpensive for just how much you’ll learn.
The Dolby Theatre is best known for being the current home to The Oscars every February, but is also host to concerts, television shows and much, much more every other day of the year. The tour is short, but allows you to see an Oscar up close, and to take in the interior of the building. You can see where the VIPs are seated during the Oscars ceremony, and are told the story of how the ceremony runs – from the reception in the Grand Foyer, to the Golden Walk after a nominee wins an Oscar. It’s located next door to the world renounced Chinese Theatre, and the Walk of Fame stretches the length of the sidewalk outside, too, so it’s a definite must see for fans of film.
Universal Hollywood is similar, yet completely different, to its Orlando counterpart. Consisting of some of the same rides, the way they’re executed has its own unique Hollywood twists of sorts. The primary difference is that with every ticket purchased to the theme park, you also have the opportunity to explore the actual Universal Studios lot. Home to shows like The Mindy Project, The Voice and more, the lot also houses Illumination Entertainment, responsible for bringing Minions to the world! The tour is interactive, allowing you to be fully immersed in rides whilst on the tour – you can experience driving like the Fast and Furious, being stalked by Norman Bates, and even see Jaws take a diver down. As well as the studio tour, the rides and experiences at Universal are some of the most fun you’ll have in Hollywood. A tip is to go early in the morning – we were there at 8am, and there was no wait time for all of the most popular rides, such as those in Harry Potter’s Wizarding World!
Stars’ Home Tours:
I know what you’re thinking – isn’t it a little sketchy to go on a tour of people’s homes? It isn’t until you set foot on the bus that you realise you see so much more than the homes of the rich and famous. Taking in Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Rodeo Drive, West Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, the tour brings you to places you constantly hear of in films and TV. On our particular tour, we even got to stop off and take pictures in front of the legendary Hollywood sign, just off Mulholland Drive, getting a spectacular view that you wouldn’t get otherwise. We saw houses belonging to Christina Aguilera, Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Sacha Baron Cohen, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more before touring the rest of Hollywood. It’s a great experience to do one of these tours, especially as you need a car to get around many parts of Los Angeles, so you’ll see more on a Stars’ Home tour than any other way!
There’s so much more to Hollywood than what is written here. It’s a great place to explore, and with direct flights now available from Dublin Airport to Los Angeles International (LAX), it’s a brilliant place to take in the sunshine and the sights over the summer.