Everybody has heard of Universal Studios, but very few people know it as intimately as its tour guides. They are responsible for leading ticketholders through Universal Studio’s 415 acre property in Los Angeles. These tour guides have to know the ins and outs of Hollywood. How do they get to know Universal Studios so well? Entertainment Executive Mike Sington shares how Universal’s Studio Tour Academy trains tour guides that are both knowledgeable and passionate.
According to Sington, Universal Studios has been hosting official tours since 1964. In 2019, 9.15 million people bought tickets to visit Universal Studios. In the nearly sixty years since the studio opened its doors, the tour guide’s role has been a highly coveted spot. When the studio holds auditions, hundreds of people will show up for just a few positions. Traditionally, once a new tour guide is hired, they have to undergo a three-week-long training boot camp. Thanks to Sington, that boot camp is now an academy.
During his time at Universal Studios, Sington completely revamped the tour guide training program. Now, the training academy is a well-known springboard for Hollywood industry professionals. According to Sington, he didn’t just want his tour guides to be knowledgeable. He wanted them to be passionate experts. His tour guides are taught about all of the notable actors and classic films that Universal has ever released. They also learn fun anecdotes about celebrities to share with guests. In addition to redeveloping the regular training program, Sington also launched the VIP Experience and Tour. This is an exclusive look at Universal Studios for high profile visitors like celebrities and politicians.
Sington himself entered the industry as a tour guide for Universal Studios. Passionate about the industry, he drafted his rewrite of the tour guide script and sent it to the studio President. The President liked it so much that he asked Sington to help rework the training program, and that’s how the Academy was born. By the time Sington left Universal studios, he had risen to the level of a senior executive. Now, Mike Sington is known as an entertainment industry guru because of all his insider knowledge.
Universal’s studio tour guides know more about Hollywood than anyone. According to the man who trained them, a good tour guide is only 60 percent knowledge. The rest, he says, has got to be passion.