Breakfast in the hotel returned to its 6am weekday schedule on Tuesday so we went down when it opened. After we relaxed in front of the fire in the open area outside of the restaurant. Vacation, right? It’s allowed.
The big activity of the day was Warner Bros. Studios. This was definitely one of my things. I‘d looked at all of the studios that had tours and this seemed to be the one that was most focused on behind the scenes stuff, as opposed to say Universal which is an amusement park, and that’s what I was most interested in.
We got there a little after 9am. It took a bit to get processed through the ticket area. There was a short video first, with Ellen DeGeneres as host, quickly reviewing Warner’s 100 years of movie making and TV history. The audience was then split into different tour groups and you went out into the tour carts with your guide. The first thing you see as you enter the backlot is the iconic water tower above. Monix, below, was our guide for the morning.
She wasn’t the best guide we’ve had on things like this but definitely not the worst and she took a liking to us, maybe because we were the only ones really asking any questions, and we sat up in the front row of the cart with her. This was on Hennessy Street, named in honor of an Oscar winning set designer, which has been used countless times in movies and TV for exterior shots. The street you’re looking at has been used for movies as diverse as Annie and Minority Report. With another tour group who joined us briefly, we watched a video clip inside one of the sets of how many different times you will see the X in the fire escape below, although the only one we could remember this morning was The Last Samurai. She told us later the story of filming Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst filming his upside down kiss seen in fake rain on this fire escape in Spider-Man.
A street on Anytown USA, used for things like East of Eden and The Waltons and a list of other things she rattled off I can’t remember now. The house above was the Sievers residence in Growing Pains. There was the Midwest neighborhood, and there was another that was the city neighborhood, that had a brownstone street as well as a courthouse, cafes, etc, used for everything from Gotham City to Gilmore Girls. Most of this stuff is facades used for exterior shots, and interior sets are all in the studio. Only a few of these were “practical sets” where you could also film inside.
A sound stage, with a “best of” list of the things filmed here, currently home of The Big Bang Theory. Some examples since it’s hard to read: Dark Victory and Now, Voyager for other Bette Davis fans. Giant, Blade Runner, and several Batman movies. We did go in and saw the BBT stage and got a little info on how all that works with a studio audience, sitting where they do, but weren’t allowed to take photos.
This little stretch of land doubles as Central Park and any other park you’ve probably seen on TV. I will admit I was disturbed to learn that Friends never left this lot, including the entirety of the exterior shots in this little scene which were filmed right in this spot.
A war memorial of Warner employees and actors who served in the military, including names like Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Stewart.
This was a technique called forced perspective, where the set is designed to create 3-D imaging, especially depth, that the camera can’t see as easily as the human eye. This is an example of how they made Hobbits so short, as an example.
We were at Warner Bros in total about 2.5 hours. Since we were already in Burbank, we went back to the downtown area we’d been in the day before, it was literally just up the street from where we were parked. In our quest to eat as much Asian food as we can, we went to a Thai food place this time. It was just OK, too Americanized and sweet for Dan’s taste for sure.
We went back to the hotel to change into shorts. Next on the list was some hiking, an almost 3 mile round trip trail on the north edge of Pasadena called Eaton Canyon.
Most of you know Dan’s love of architecture, and Arts and Crafts homes are some of his favorite. Pasadena is known for having a great collection of these houses, and even have an entire neighborhood of them listed in the National Register of Historic Places and considered one of the “10 great places in America.” This is Bungalow Heaven, and most of these houses were built between 1900-1920. Just a sampling below.
Before the hike, we’d stopped by the book/antique shop we were at on Sunday and Dan struck a deal with the owner for the prints he wanted. We went back after this to pick them up, and stopped at a box store a block away to get packing materials. After that we went down Colorado Blvd again, where we seem to have spent much of our time this trip, or at least crossed it a bunch, to a dim sum place that had decent ratings on Yelp. We were pleased to see lots of Asians in it, always a good sign. We’ve typically done dim sum for brunch, so having it for dinner was a nice change.
We ordered mostly things we get in Sac when we do this, to be able to easily compare, and right from the start it was bigger and better, much higher quality of ingredients and interesting techniques. This is a fried sticky rice ball with meat inside as seen below. The outside was really crispy and the mixture inside had a great flavor. Home run right off the bat.
This was the most amazing bite of the night. A fried carrot ball off of the dessert menu, we ordered it because we had no idea what it was but it sounded interesting. Similar to the item we started with, it was served warm and the outside was nice and crispy. The inside was a sticky carrot something with a custard in the very middle.