Want to set sail with pirates, visit the homes of the rich and (in)famous or watch a movie in unusual surroundings? Los Angeles is the place to head if you’re a film fan.
Jonathan Melville and Claire Connachan take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of the city and suggest ten experiences for film fans who want to find out what makes Hollywood tick.
Disneyland has 85 acres to explore and over 60 attractions to choose from – that’s not even counting the California Adventures theme park next door. With classic rides including Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s A Small World, to scream-worthy efforts such as the tooth-chattering Space Mountain and a white-knuckle Indiana Jones adventure, California’s most famous park is well worth a visit.
There’s more fun than you can shake a kitchen knife at in Universal. Start with the back lot tour where you meet Norman Bates (and friend), Jaws and King Kong as you rattle along in a golf cart, then spend the rest of the day alternatively grinning or screaming like a loon as you encounter dinosaurs, Terminators and the entire back catalogue of Universal’s horror monsters. Do not miss!
The opportunity to trundle down the back streets of movie history on the Warner Bros lot is one that shouldn’t be passed up with small groups with knowledgeable guides allowing for perhaps the most intimate film tour experience in LA. What Warner Bros lacks in spectacle it makes up for in up-close-and-personal, with movie vehicles and genuine props all part of the package.
Recapture some of the glamour of old Hollywood with a trip to two landmark cinemas: the Egyptian Theatre and Chinese Theatre. While the Egyptian hosted the first Hollywood premiere, the Chinese is home to those infamous handprints of actors and actresses, including Marilyn Monroe and Peter O’Toole. The Egyptian’s eclectic screening schedule should keep the most dedicated cinephile happy.
From Bud Abbott to Adolph Zukor, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is unmissable in more ways than one: step onto Hollywood Boulevard at any point and you’ll be standing on a celebrity (perhaps literally if it’s a Saturday night). If you’ve heard of them then there’s a chance they’re here, and looking for your favourite famous name never gets dull.
Book yourself on a morning walking tour before the Californian heat kicks in and enjoy a relaxed and informative hour-and-a-bit learning about the history, legends and lore of the world’s most star-studded street. A friendly tour guide will explain the origins of Hollywood Boulevard, its incredible architecture and will also drop in some gossip and fables about its famous inhabitants. This tour is available as part of the Citipass.
A cemetery may not sound like the most obvious place for a film screening, but as the final resting place for Douglas Fairbanks, Fay Wray, Rudolph Valentino and more, Hollywood Forever isn’t your normal graveyard. Along with tours there are outdoor movie events, often with live music, which draw visitors from far and wide.
If the A-listers are hiding in their Beverley Hills mansions, make a stop at Madame Tussauds on Hollywood Boulevard to get your fill of famous faces. Three jam-packed floors cover everything from silent movie moguls to Hollywood icons to superstar pop performers. There are tons of photo opportunities so take your camera, size up your favourite celeb and get papping.
If the thought of peering over hedges, staring at locked gates and marvelling at mailboxes doesn’t appeal, think again: the Movie Stars’ Homes Tour is a staple of LA sightseeing and isn’t as creepy as it sounds. Whizz around Beverley Hills in an open topped bus ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the sheer wealth of the city, while a guide gives you the lowdown on which famous actor’s security cameras are which.
With over 20,000 new and used books covering every aspect of Hollywood, along with 500,000 photos and 6,000 posters, Larry Edmunds Bookshop has been a local institution for over 70 years. Whether you’re into stars of the silent movies or state-of-the-art CGI, there’s a title for you. Watch out for regular signings and talks.
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Jonathan Melville is a freelance digital editor, writer and journalist, helping clients communicate online and offline via the written word, video and audio. He also runs ReelScotland.com which covers reviews, previews, features and interviews for some of the most exciting film and TV related events taking place around Scotland.
Claire Connachan is a copywriter, marketer and travel enthusiast based in Scotland.