Burbank is a city in the San Fernando Valley north of Downtown Los Angeles. Whereas Hollywood’s name is forever linked with the movie industry, in reality Burbank is home to all the major film and TV studios. Many media and entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., NBC, and Walt Disney and their production facilities are headquartered in this city of roughly 105,000. Many have described Burbank as ugly, boring, hot, and smoggy, but the city is nonetheless the media capital of the world.
The Disney Studios is the most visible of the studios in Burbank with its building crowned by a starry wizard-hat. The building is home to over 700 animators. Disney also has another building, the Studio Office Building at 500 S. Buena Vista Street. Its roof is propped by five of the seven dwarves from Snow White. Unfortunately, the studio is not open to the public for tours.
NBC Television Studios
The NBC Television Studios at 3000 West Alameda Avenue provides a 90-minute tour of the studios, makeup facilities, wardrobes, and the huge prop warehouse; all of this is supposed to connect you directly with what you see on the screen. If you’re fortunate, you might even get to see a star coming to work. Sometimes, there are free tickets to TV show tapings, but only a handful of shows like Jay Leno’s Tonight Show still tape there.
Warner Bros Studios
The Warner Bros Studios at 4000 Warner Boulevard at Hollywood Way has a tour that is limited to a dozen people. The guide takes you through the major studio, explaining the inner workings of what happens behind the scenes. The tour is not staged or planned and visitor experiences differ depending on what happens on that day. Typically, you get to stop by the recording studio and see the mill where the sets are constructed. Most of the time, you’ll get to see actual exterior sets such as of recreated streets from New York, the West, or the Midwest or of a recreated tropical jungle. Ultimately, you won’t see any actual filming, but you’ll witness what a major studio’s work environment is like.
Bob’s Big Boy
Burbank is home to the oldest Bob’s Big Boy restaurant still in existence. Located at 4211 Riverside Drive, this preserved coffee shop has been designated a California Point of Historical Interest and been featured in various Hollywood movies including Austin Powers. The restaurant’s 70 foot pink and white neon sign is stunning. If you want to go there to eat, Friday nights and the weekends are the best time to go. Sometimes, there are hot rod shows on Friday nights. And on the weekend, you can enjoy old-fashioned car-hop service.
Burbank was originally granted by the Spanish government in 1798 to Don Jose Maria Verdugo. It then turned into a Rancho in 1821 when the Mexicans took over. Burbank purchased the 4,600 acres in 1867 and ran a sheep ranch for decades. He then shrewdly sold a right of way to Southern Pacific Railroad for a mere one dollar. The incoming stream of people and land speculators resulted in a substantial appreciation of Burbank’s land, which he sold in 1886 for $250,000.
Burbank grew as people bought the farming lots offered. In the early 20th century, factories, studios, and defense-related companies like Lockheed began moving into Burbank resulting in a swell of population growth. The building of an airport in 1930, the largest in Los Angeles at the time, and the war helped further the city’s commercial importance. After WWII, entertainment began replacing the defense industry as the chief employer of residents. Today, Burbank is a media capital that still maintains a small town feel and is only minutes away by car to the vibrant nightlife and fine restaurants of Hollywood.
Baker, Christopher, Judy Wade, and Morten Strange. California. New York: Macmillan General Reference, 1994. ISBN: 0671879065.
“Burbank, California.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burbank%2C_California>
Dickey, Jeff. Los Angeles, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides, 2003. ISBN: 1843530589.
 Baker, 191
 Id. at 138
 Dickey, 192