Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My day at Warner Bros., and a dream come true.

Last week I went on a journey with my friend Mikki that took me to places that rest deep inside of my dreams and heart: Friends locations on the Warner Bros. lot. She sent me a message telling me she was going on a Warner Bros. tour and asked if I wanted to join her. It sounded like a lot of fun, and some of my favorite things are from Warner Bros.! Harry Potter and of course Friends. I hopped online and bought my ticket, then headed out the next morning to meet her. I ended up getting turned around a few times trying to get to her house, and that set us back about twenty minutes (whoops!) but we made it to the lot just in time to get into our tour!


Group B! What a group to be in.

Going to the Warner Bros. lot was really interesting. Being in the Hollywood area affords all sorts of new and surreal sights and opportunities. When Andrew's movie Mr. Popper's Penguins came out, we went to the Fox lot to see it in one of their theatres. It was so interesting being among the buildings that serve as sets for so many movies and shows! The same experience was present at Warner Bros. Seeing the water tower was crazy awesome and I sent a picture to my sister right away. For those of you that don't know, Friends means a great deal to my mom, sister and me. It is our favorite show, and the three of us watched new episodes together until the end of the show. 


There's something so bizarre about seeing it in person.

My sister and I both have the series on DVD, and we watch all the time. We use them as background noise for all occasions, and whenever we're together we're constantly quoting the lines to one another. It's our "thing", and I very much wish that she could have been on the tour with Mikki and me! I'm currently conspiring to get my sister down here for a weekend, perhaps we'll go on the tour together...! :D

But I digress! 

Upon entering the gift shop/tour starting area (which was full of incredible merchandise) we were greeted by super tall statues of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. I felt so gleeful! The tour started with a ten minute video on the history of Warner Bros. studios, as well as clips from their most famous movies and television shows. After that we were loaded into our little trams and the tour began! Our guide asked us to cheer for our favorite Warner Bros. properties, and I made sure to yell my head off when she said, "Friends". 


I wanted to hug them.

We were carted around the lot and she talked about the history of the studio, including fun stories and tidbits of information. We stopped at multiple locations to unload from our tram so we could be shown in-depth aspects of the sets and buildings. One of the first stops was a "street" of New York that hosted scenes for films such as The Mask, and a bunch of other ones that I can't remember, hehe. We rounded the corner of this "street" to be presented with a location from Friends(!!!) and the fire escape from the infamous Spider-man upside-down kiss scene


 Left: from season one, when the Friends sing "In the Jungle" to Marcel 
on the set of "Outbreak 2: The Virus Takes Manhattan". Right: me standing
where Monica and Rachel stood while talking about Jean Claude Van Dam.

Our tour continued on to a room full of cars from Warner Bros. movies and TV shows. The Gran Torino was there, as well as the Mystery Machine and a sampling of Batman vehicles. Most exciting to me was the presence of the flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! Mikki and I learned that there were twelve different versions of the Anglia made for the film, each in a different state of destruction. The car present at Warner Bros. was the final stage after being beaten by the Whomping Willow. This was thrilling, of course, but I have to say I was disappointed by the lack of Phoebe's yellow taxi!


 Left: me thrilled beyond absolute belief. Right: Mikki representing Harry Potter pride.

The latter leg of our tour took us to the prop department, which was awe-inspiring; crammed floor to ceiling with every item imaginable. There were famous pieces on display, such as the couch from Carrie's apartment from Sex and the City. It was a lot of fun to wander the halls and take in all of the fun furnishings, especially all of the lighting. There were innumerable amounts of fixtures, it was like the lighting department from Home Depot multiplied by ten. Also a lot of old fashioned pieces such as wardrobes and desks. They were so ornate and fascinating. 

Now, the pièce de résistance of the tour (for me, at least) was the surprise unveiling of the Central Perk set from Friends. I believe that our tour guide kept it as a surprise for my sake, because I heard another tour guide explaining to his group what it was ahead of time after we were done in the set room. I certainly appreciated her not spoiling the surprise ahead of time! 


Central Perk in all of its shining, preserved glory. *cue angelic singing*

The set has been kept meticulously intact in the prop department behind an inconspicuous large black door. This came as a wonderful, fabulous, dream-come-true shock to me. I've watched the behind-the-scenes of the season ten DVD set, and I watched with tears in my eyes as the sets from stage 24 were torn down. My sister and I mourned the loss of the sets we loved, and the loss of opportunity to ever see them in tact and in person.


 The menu board and the espresso machine.


Behind the counter. I could practically see Gunther.

The sign is so iconic and comforting.

I simultaneously wanted to scream, cry and pee my pants when the door opened. I wanted to call Cassidy right then to bring her as close to the experience as possible. I took as many pictures as I could, and shook with delight when the tour guide told us we could sit on the orange couch and have our photos taken with Central Perk as the backdrop. I wanted so badly to wander the whole set and sit at the coffee bar, the tables, the bench seat near the window. SIGH. We were confined to the couch area though, so I simply looked on with longing and took it all in.


 Left: a close up of the window to the right of the doors. Right: the front doors.

The whole tour included a few more stops, including the sound stage for 2 Broke Girls and a museum of Warner Bros. props and costumes, with the entire second floor devoted to Harry Potter items. Mikki, another huge Harry Potter fan, and I made a beeline for the second floor. We had only a scarce twenty minutes to enjoy the two floors, and we spent the majority of it wandering the Harry Potter items. The costumes were so ornate, and there was a giant spider that was positively terrifying. We also had a chance to be sorted, which was thrilling. I can't wait for Pottermore to open next month!


Happy, shocked, disbelieving smile on my face. So glad Mikki invited me!

At the end of the tour we decided to spend a bunch of time exploring the gift shop. There were sections for a bunch of major Warner Bros. productions, as well as general Warner Bros. products. I fawned over the Friends section, hemming and hawing over which item I simply couldn't live without. Mikki spent as much time in the Harry Potter section and came away with a jealousy-inducing amount of items xD I eventually decided on a Central Perk t-shirt for myself, and a FRIENDS emblazoned coffee mug for my dear sister.


 Left: location of Joey's movie premiere. Right: the Central Park mock-up
where Phoebe runs weird and Rachel runs into a horse.

I have to thank Mikki again for inviting me along, and Warner Bros. for the preservation of Central Perk. It was a magical day.


Stage 24, the house of Friends for ten long years.

-MJ

4 comments:

Jacki T. said...

I am so happy you got to do that. You look awesome sitting on that couch!!!! hahahah what a great opportunity :)

Cassidy said...

"...that might as well have NIPPLES on them!!!" i cried reading your post and seeing the pictures. you SAT ON THE COUCH!!! seriously. i have a snotty nose right now.

MJ said...

It was so emotional! If I had been there with you I would have been bawling. It was really hard not to cry. You have to come down so we can go together!

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