Nowhere else in the world are attendees able to experience the thrill of Hollywood moviemaking more than at the celebrated film studios in the area. Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros., 20th-Century Fox and other names conjure up Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s, as well as epic and beloved movies and TV shows produced in subsequent decades.
Today, options for groups are varied. Paramount Studios, the longest operating major studio, offers 2- to 4-hour guided tours of its stages and backlots. It also rents out its spaces for special events. Want a New York street, or a blue sky and water backdrop for your gala reception? Prefer a plush theater for your awards celebration, or a park setting for a cocktail. It’s all possible.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood lets groups walk the backlots that have been the sets of Casablanca and Gilmore Girls, plus see the soundstages where The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Big Bang Theory, among others, are shot.
Universal Studios Hollywood boasts a crowd-pleasing theme park, with rides and immersive experiences that capitalize on popular movies such as the Transformers series and Despicable Me. This year, Universal has added three major attractions. The most recent is Fast & Furious-—Supercharged, inspired by the successful film franchise. The 3-D-HD ride features the film’s original cast members and propels guests into the underground world of fast cars traveling at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.
The ride is also the grand finale of the park’s recently revamped studio tour, an all-day affair that takes visitors past movie and TV sets of Desperate Housewives, War of the Worlds and other productions before they enjoy the park. Universal also has the new Nighttime Studio Tour of its backlot. And coming up in spring 2016 is the highly anticipated The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an immersive area that will bring J.K. Rowling’s stories and the films to life. Hogwarts Castle will be its focal point.
In addition to enjoying the tours and park attractions, groups can stage events at various locations in Universal’s park—or buy out the entire park. “Our most popular locations include The Globe Theatre, Streets of the World, Universal Plaza and our new Springfield,” says Kim Weedmark, vice president of special events and group sales at Universal Studios Hollywood. “The Globe is considered our turn-key indoor event venue as it is fashioned to host anything from a family celebration to an ultra-glamorous benefit gala.” Events are fully customized: Groups can plan and book their visit around a ride or attraction of interest, for example, or have special events take place after normal park hours.