Although Burbank is a tree-shaded, residential suburb in a pocket of L.A. County, it plays center stage for a number of major studios. ... more »Located 12 miles north of downtown L.A., Burbank is an incorporated city (population 100,000+) with its own highly ranked police and school agencies. But what really put Burbank on the map years ago, is "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," and the NBC comedy show, "Laugh-In". At that time, the city was frequently referred to as "beautiful downtown Burbank."
Today, Burbank is billed as the media capital of the world, and houses many media and entertainment companies, as well as production facilities. NBC Universal, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Warner Music Group, the Walt Disney Co., Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon are all based in Burbank.
With such a strong media presence, it's no surprise that some facilities are named after celebrities. For example, there's the Bob Hope Airport and the Johnny Carson Park. In addition, Burbank's high schools have produced some big names, including actor/director Ron Howard, actor Anson Williams, director Tim Burton and actress Blake Lively.
But you don't have to be in the television or movie industry to gain access into the studios. NBC Universal and Warner Bros. offer exciting studio tours that take you behind the scenes to sets and various departments, including wardrobe, makeup, set building and props. While doling out studio history, tour guides sprinkle in fun facts, like Jay Leno owns about 180 cars and motorcycles. The guide may bring you to the parking lot to point out the car Leno drove to work that day.
Typically, tours steer away from working sets to avoid disrupting production, but visitors are able to walk onto empty sets. On occasion, actors will walk over to tour groups to say hello. With ongoing filming and production, no two tours are alike. So you never know what to expect or who you'll see!
Since tapings take place in the afternoons and "hot" sets are closed off to the public, you tend to see more sets on the morning tours.
It's best to call ahead to reserve your studio tour, especially if you're holding tickets for the taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at NBC or the "Ellen DeGeneres" or "Conan" shows at Warner Bros. Tapings are free but require tickets, which can often take several weeks to get.
It makes sense to start your day with Warner Bros. since it's a longer tour and you can grab a meal on-site before touring NBC. However, if you have reserved tickets for Jay Leno, Conan or the Ellen shows, then try to schedule your tour for the afternoon of whichever taping you're attending so you're already on the property when it's time to line up.
This tour starts with the Warner Bros. studio tour (which allows you time to eat breakfast or lunch at the studio cafe), followed by the NBC Universal tour. less «