Burbank, population 103,340, is approximately a 15 minute drive from the center of Los Angeles. It is called the "Media Capital of the World," with the studios of ABC, NBC, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and the Walt Disney Company. In the 1960's, “Laugh In” TV variety comedy show made jokes about broadcasting from “beautiful downtown Burbank,” that area has since been called "one of Southern California's most appealing urban centers" by Sunset magazine.
1. Disney Studios: Founded in 1939, these are the only studios to survive from the Golden Age of filming, and were originally designed around the animation process. The studio's senior management building has a fascia of the seven dwarfs holding up the roof of the building, an homage to Disney's popular animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.“ While Disney doesn't offer a studio tour and no part is actually open to the public, you can gain access in two ways: get tickets to a live taping of one of few sitcoms that are taped there; or one day a year, in November or December, the studios are open for Disney's Magic Holiday Faire, during which you can stroll around most of the studio grounds and buy handmade holiday crafts.
2. Warner Brothers and NBC studios: Tours of the Warner Brothers Studios reveal the behind the scenes operations of many of today's movies and television shows. The Warner Brothers Museum features pieces from the studio's past. The NBC studios are where many of the network's shows are produced. Tours include a stop at the set of Jay Leno's late night show and the TV soap opera “Days of Our Lives”.
3. Burbank Town Center: the center includes a wide variety of shops, restaurants and services, including Macy's, Mervyn's, Sears, Sport Chalet, Bed Bath & Beyond, AMC Theater (with 14 screens), Old Navy, New York & Company, American Eagle, Zales, Aldo Shoes, Charlotte Russe, IKEA, Barnes & Noble, Loehmann's, Office Depot, Circuit City, California Pizza Kitchen, Corner Bakery, and PF Chang's. The Backlot Adventure children's play area has a unique soft-sculpted design. You can find it at 201 East Magnolia and get there by renting a cheap car hire.
4. Autry Museum of Western Heritage: Created by 'singing cowboy' Gene Autry, Walt Disney Imagineering designed the museum's six permanent exhibition areas. Western artifacts on display include buckskin fringe jackets, saddles, cowboy hats, spurs, and a full size stage coach drawn by four taxidermied horses. A steam pump fire engine, a saloon with a mahogany bar and a recreation of the gunfight at the OK Corral are also around. You might get a kick out of the pistols used by Belle Star and members of The Wild Bunch and the Dalton Gang.
5. Descanso Gardens: In nearby Flintwood, this secluded, lush botanical garden contains over 100,000 plants, including one of the largest displays of camellias in the world. In the garden is a lake that attracts migratory birds, a Japanese garden with pools and waterfalls, and the International Rosarium featuring thousands of rose settings. There is also a performing arts program that includes stage and musical performances and flower and craft shows. Walking and tram tours, horticultural classes, and lectures are available.
California is no place to rush through, Burbank needs your attention! If you are pressed for time, the best way to catch all the sights is to rent a cheap car rental and race around yourself. Public transport is totally a thing of the past.
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