Sony Pictures Studios Tour

Sony Pictures Gate
••• Sony Pictures Gate. ©2011 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

Back in the early days of movies, MGM Studios made its home in Culver City, making films like The Wizard of Oz, National Velvet and Singin' in the Rain. Around the same time, Columbia Pictures opened in Hollywood proper, making Oscar-winners of their own. Fast forward to 1989, when Sony buys Columbia Pictures and forms Sony Pictures Entertainment, taking up residence on the old MGM lot in Culver City, forming the studio you can visit today.

Tips for Enjoying the Sony Pictures Studios Tour

  • Have the right expectations so that you won't be disappointed. You probably won't see a big-name movie star. In fact, you'll be lucky to see a minor one. And you definitely won't get to watch a movie being made. What you will see is the inside of a working film studio, your experience based on the day's activities.
  • To improve chances of having a great tour, avoid summer and end-of-year holidays when many shows are not working.
  • If you're visiting several Hollywood attractions on the same day, you can save money on the Paramount Tour with a Go Card. Buy it online in advance.
  • You'll walk 1.5 to 2 miles, much of it outdoors. You'll also climb a few steps if you get into the game show sets.
  • Dress for the weather and be aware that a cloudy morning in Los Angeles often becomes a very hot, sunny day a few hours later.
  • Children ages 12 and up are allowed to tour, so if you have little ones, this tour would not be for them. Children 12- 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • They ID anyone who's old enough to have one, so everyone should bring theirs.
  • Sony says on their website that no cell phone, video or sound recording is allowed during the tour - and they mean it. But don't leave your camera at home because of it. You can take pictures in the lobby and at selected spots if allowed by your tour guide.
  • They ask you to arrive at least thirty minutes before your tour time, which will give you just enough time to look around the mini-museum in the lobby before your tour starts.

Sony Pictures Studio Tour Options

Sony only offers one basic tour, but they do give twilight tours on summer Thursdays

Sony Pictures Studio Tour

The tour leaves from the Sony Pictures Productions office building. While you're waiting, someone will take your photo in front of a green screen to create a souvenir photo you'll pick up at the end. The tour starts with a 15-minute film montage about Columbia Pictures and Sony.

Highlights of the tour:

  • The studio's Oscars collection is on display in the headquarters lobby.
  • Depending on production schedules, you may visit the sets for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. One of these is almost always open, and sometimes both are.
  • You'll also visit a few sound stages. Which ones depend on what's going on and what your tour guide can get you into.
  • Near the end of the tour, you'll get a chance to visit the gift shop. If you're in the market for mugs, t-shirts, hats and the like, you'll find some here that you can't get anywhere else.

About the Game Shows

"Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" are both produced at Sony Studios.

When they're making new episodes, they shoot 6 of them per day, 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. During that time, the studio tour can't get inside their set. However, the two shows work on alternating schedules, so one set is usually open on every tour.

If you have your heart set on visiting one of those sets, you'll need to plan ahead. Check the Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune website for the schedule. If all you want to do is see the set, take a tour on a day when they're not working. If you want to see how the whole thing is done, choose a day when they are working and use our tips to get tickets to be in their studio audience. It's also possible to make a day of it, being in the audience for half a day and touring the studio, too. There's a cafe inside the main office building where you could grab a bite to eat in between.

Sony Pictures Studio Tour Review

We rate the Sony Studio Tour 3.5 stars out of 5. We love the history reaching all the way back to MGM days and appreciate the real working studio atmosphere. However, their tour goes to fewer parts of the studio than others, and it involves a lot of walking.

What You Need to Know About Sony Pictures Studio Tour

Several tours daily, Monday through Friday only (check current hours). Reservations are required. Admission fee charged. Buy tickets online. Allow about 2.5 hours for the tour.

Getting There

Madison Avenue between Washington and Culver Blvds.
Culver City, CA​
Sony Pictures Studio Tour website

In the past, guests met at the headquarters at Sony Pictures Plaza, but now you should enter the Overland gate on Overland Ave between Culver and Washington Blvd instead. Valet parking is free. 

Sony Studios is in Culver City, southeast of the intersection Washington/Culver.  Visit the Sony website to get a pdf document with directions from all the area freeways. If you need an address for your GPS or to give your Uber or Lyft driver, use 3790 Overland Avenue.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary tour for the purpose of reviewing the Sony Studio Tour. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.