A Very Gilmore Christmas
In the Beginning
It all began with a sinus infection. An extremely painful sinus infection. So painful my teeth loosened and I was unable to sleep for more than two days.
I didn’t even bother going to bed, opting to sit on our couch watching television throughout the night. Thank goodness for cable. As bad as television shows can be at 3 and 4 a.m., at least there was something to keep me company.
Darling Daughter (DD) was already a huge Gilmore Girls fan at the time. I,on the other hand, thought it was a show for teen girls and never bothered to watch it.
But, here I was, stuck on the couch, and DD was being beyond kind, working to keep dear ol’ dad’s mind off his misery. Gilmore Girls was on so we watched it together.
I was hooked.
The show was already in its third or fourth season by this time, meaning DD was 14 or 15 years old.
She had the dvd box sets for the previous seasons and over the course of those two days I was under the weather, we sat there together on the couch watching every episode.
The rapid fire pace of the dialogue with more than a hint of sarcasm, the witty humor and the bond between mother Lorelai and daughter Rory made us both devoted fans.
Yes, I saw DD and me in them. I felt more than a little bit like we were the father-daughter version of Lorelai and Rory.
That sentiment became even stronger when my wife, DD’s mother, died in 2006, the same year in which Gilmore Girls’ final season began to air.
After that initial introduction, DD and I watched every new episode together whenever possible.
It has become so much a part of our lives the show’s theme song, Where You Lead by Carole King, played for our Father/Daughter dance at her recent wedding. (King changes New York City to Stars Hollow, the fictional setting for Gilmore Girls, in this rendition.)
A Very Gilmore Christmas
All of the above is provided to help you understand the significance of Darling Daughter’s present to me this Christmas, the studio tour at Warner Brothers Studios where, during the holiday season, they roll back time and recreate Stars Hollow, where the Gilmore Girls magic was created.
Luke’s Diner, Doose’s Market, the town square and gazebo, Mrs. Kim’s house/antique store, the Dragonfly Inn, Lorelai’s and Rory’s home and more are all there, brought back to life.
Just to be clear, for the unenlightened, this is where the show was filmed, on set, around this town square.
Stepping into the wayback machine for just a moment, this was not our first trip together to WB. That came in 2007 when DD and I ventured out upon a 5,000-mile road trip a couple of weeks after she’d graduated high school. We went on the same WB studio tour back then but, the entire experience was smaller and the town square no longer had the signature Gilmore Girls look.
It was a year past the conclusion of the show’s filming and the structures had been transformed for use in other movies and shows. With a little imagination, you could still see the diner and the grocery but their signage and colors had changed their looks entirely.
This time though, it was so very familiar. This time we walked down the street into Stars Hollow.
This time, as die-hard fans of the show, did I mention we took third place in a trivia contest last year, we returned to our old hometown. Everything was familiar, these were our old haunts we’d spent so much time in.
In addition to the look and feel, there were small nods back to the show that fans of the series will well remember and love – the stroke-mouthed snowperson, the awkward portrait of Rory reading a book and her Ice Cream Queen posters, the title she never wanted.
If you ask, on the ride to the town square the tour guide will even point out the woodsy road where Rory got hit by a deer driving to school at Chilton.
And just for fun, grab a button declaring your loyalty for Team Dean, Jess or Logan, Rory’s three boyfriends over the course of the show. Team Jess all the way!
Harry Potter and Hogwarts
Darling Daughter and I are also big Harry Potter fans. She was just the right age, nine, to be totally enthralled with the book when the first one appeared in 1998.
We read the full series together, sharing the book back and forth. Her reading during the day and weekends, me taking my turn when she was asleep or at some activity.
She even drove home from college on my birthday in 2010 so we could go together to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the first installment of the movie’s two-part final chapter, at the local Imax theater.
Sidenote, that’s also when she learned about sneaking alcohol into the movies, but I digress.
Why do I bring this up? Because, to our surprise, there is a large Harry Potter section near the end of the WB tour, after the superheroes, I’ll get to those folks next.
It’s packed with a lot of fun stuff. One central room, with Harry’s flying car floating above, is surrounded by four additional rooms heading off in each direction:
Newton Scemander’s Shed from the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
A Potions Room with Mandrake plants that scream when you lift them from their pots.
Harry’s Bedroom Under the Stairs with Dobby nearby and an opportunity for visitors to have their photos taken trying to grab their own admissions letter from Hogwarts.
And, of course, the Sorting Room where you’ll sit beneath the sorting hat and learn to which house you belong. I being a proud Gryffindor. DD, well, sadly, not.
I feel like I’m one of those television commercials that just keeps adding additional items; Wait There’s More!
If you’re a DC superheroes fan, like me, as opposed to those other, Marvel guys, there’s an entire section filled with costumes and other memorabilia from the DC universe - two Batmobiles, a Batcycle, the Batwing from Dawn of Justice, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman costumes, an interactive panel where you find the backstories of your favorites like Harley Quinn 😉 and the proverbial, whole lot more.
The WB Studio Tour
Finally, what started it all, the studio tour itself. Fifteen years ago when Darling Daughter and I first visited WB, that was the heart of the experience. That alone, without everything else added since, would still well be worth the price of admission for anyone wanting to see behind the scenes where movies and television shows are created.
You ride on board with roughly a dozen other guests as the guide drives you through the back lots, taking you inside some of the studio spaces where the shows are filmed.
They do an especially good job of customizing the tour to the people on board. No two tours are exactly the same. Though they follow roughly similar routes, the guide asks what shows the riders are particularly interested in and makes extra effort to point out where scenes from those specific shows and movies have been filmed.
They also let you in on the little behind the scenes secrets like the building used as the exterior hospital entrance shot for the television show ER, but also as a bus station and an airport entrance in other productions. Or how they make it appear you’re looking down a hallway into a building when it’s actually a solid wall.
At the conclusion of you’re you enter a building packed with additional memorabilia including facsimiles of the sets from Friends and Big Bang Theory.
WB offers different tour packages with the basic, which is the one we went on, priced at $69. I’m sure the bigger tours are great, but this is one time when you really do get a lot with just the basic package and don't need to feel like you're missing out if you go that route.
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