If one word could be used to describe my niece's last weekend in California, it would be STUDIOS! The kid loves the movie business as much as her dorky auntie does, and was beyond excited that we were going to Universal Studios that weekend. She was even more excited to learn we would also stop by Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios (albeit just the outside) during that day too. It's so much fun to see things that bring this kid so much joy!
My favorite part of Universal Studios is hands down the studio/backlot tour. Now, if we're going to be picky, I'd much rather go on the Warner Brother's studio tour but considering that Universal offered us both the tour and rides for my niece, I settled for the latter. Niece wasn't much for taking pictures that day (and I can't believe she wore the same outfit!), but no matter - we still had fun.
While most of the tour includes visiting various current and old film locations, the park has done a great job showing off its movie magic prowess. While I was sad to learn that the old King Kong set was destroyed by a fire, the new King Kong in 3D site was incredible! It was by far my favorite part of the day. The special effects are amazing, although I still miss the original King Kong puppet myself.
Niece didn't really know about many of the films mentioned during the tour (GOD, I'm old!), but she was super stoked to see that the set from How the Grinch Stole Christmas was still there. She was amazed out how small it was, especially when compared to how big it had appeared on screen. Unfortunately, niece wasn't really up for taking pictures so although we had fun on the other rides, we didn't take a lot of pictures that day.
Once we had our fill of Universal, we headed east into Burbank to check out the famous Warner Brothers Studios! We didn't have time to take the tour, but niece really wanted to see it anyway. Warner Brothers Studios, built in 1926 by First National Pictures, has been the home of thousands of movies and television shows. I went on this tour a couple of years ago, and loved the history and the set designs. Today, it is still a working studio that has a huge footprint in Burbank. I've heard no two tours are the same, so I hope to get to go again one day.
My niece was really excited to see the water tower. As any good kid from the 90s remembers (and many of their children now know), the Warner Brothers water tower is home to the Animaniacs - also known as Yakko, Wakko, and Dot! Unfortunately, they seemed to be hiding on this particularly cloudy afternoon ; ) You can visit the gates of Warner Brothers studios (which features ample free street parking) if you go to 3495 Warner Blvd. (Warning: This parking is all 2-hour parking only. Do not park on the street for the VIP Tour.)
Our next stop in Burbank was my niece's favorite - Walt Disney Studios! Located at 2303 West Alameda, the gates to Walt Disney Studios feature a grand cartoony palm entrance with Mickey-topped gates. A little known fun fact is that if you look closely, you can see that Snow White's seven dwarves hold up the building behind my niece. It is super cute. Built in 1940, Walt Disney Studios is one of the few that doesn't offer public tours, but I can see why. I see people standing outside these gates all the time trying to get a peek at the magic of Disney!
My niece was a huge Disney fan a few years ago, and often talked about one day being a star on one of their family friendly shows. When I noticed the Disney themed shuttle stop just outside the gate, I told her she might as well get used to it for when she becomes famous one day! She loved it, and thought it was cool to be standing where Disney employees often stand to catch the shuttle.
Although my niece's visit to the Golden State was short, we packed in a lot of fun. I look forward to next summer when she makes her way out for another visit. Well, I gotta run. Lots more blogging to catch up on - I promise!
Until next time...