My trip to Hemet in December, 1996
Click here to see the ship in front of me.
Click here to see an aerial view of Golden Era Studios.
I've heard that Scientologists are discouraged from coming to Golden Era Studios.
I've taken the tour in about 1990 and again in about 1994. The first time there was a batch of older people, but I came late so part of the tour I was alone with a tour guide. The second time I was the only tourist, and Muriel Dufresne showed me around. I don't remember the guide's name the first time, but she is standing by the audio mixer in the photo below.
I was treated cordially on both tours, and was allowed to pretty much take photos of whatever I wanted. The photos here are the ones I can find from the tour.
This will be a review of the 2 tours sort of combined (at the mercy of my poor memory, too). First you have to drive up to the security guard box at the gate to the property on the south side of the road that splits the property. He'll tell you to park up by a nice glass-covered building with a friendly receptionist. There are several church books and such that you can look at while you wait for the tour to begin.
The tour goes to the movie studio, where you see people working in the makeup dept., go through the studio itself, then over to the tape editing room. You then walk down to the lake, across the little bridge to the tiny island, and look at the nice waterfall and little boat in the lake. This bridge is where rule-breakers have been "overboarded" as rule-breakers used to be actually overboarded on Hubbard's ship the Apollo. From here we walk by what looks like housing units. You see people in black shirts and shorts here and there cleaning.
Now we go through the tunnel that goes under the highway that splits the property, and walk up along the new chapel. I indicated great interest in the chapel, hinting that I wanted to go in, but Muriel ignored that, and we moved on to the ship.
The Star of California (see me on board above) is not really a ship, but it's made up to sorta be like a ship, with a lifeboat on board even. Inside is a bar and some small sleeping rooms.
Below the ship is an olympic length pool. I asked who could use the pool and was told all the staff could. On the left end of the pool is
a pond next to a changing room and a parrot's cage with a very downstat parrot (he just seems to sit there).
Everything is very clean, every building is well-kept. It all seems to be a very nice, calm place. Heh. I wonder what's in the chapel?
Also on the tour is a small viewing room where you have to watch one of their wretched films. Eek. Then it's on to the sound studio.
The huge mixing board is supposed to be only 1 of 4 of its kind in the entire world. The studio has about 2 foot thick walls to deaden outside sound. It's very nice. Also on the tour is the cafeteria, which looks like it could hold about 500 people, and a changing room that is one of the most extravagant rooms I've ever seen (sheepskin toilet seats, for example). I suspect this is for the movie stars, not the Sea Orgers.
The second tour, I was shown a video at the end of the tour in the same building where we started. It was in a conference room with a large table and the monitors built into the walls. On the huge table was a pitcher with several glasses. Both the pitcher and the glasses had cellophane over the top, so this seems to be a common practice (Miscavige is reported to cover his glass for fear of poisoning, but this seems to be simply legend). Muriel was about to show me a tape I'd already seen, so I asked to see another one, and she obliged.
All in all, it's a nice tour, although you won't get to see the things critics would probably prefer to see, like the e-meter production, and the razor wire between the property and the steep hill in back. Gee, maybe you could ask to see these things at the end of the regular tour?