1985 Biff’s Casino (Exterior)
Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino and Hotel
Filming Location from Back to the Future part II – sort of.
If you read one sentence from this page, read this; This location was not actually seen on Screen! Due to popular request, weve included the INSPIRATION FOR
the tower of Biff’s Casino; The Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. A model based off
this hotel was used (along with composite shots of the courthouse) to create Biff’s casino as seen on screen. The Rooftop was filmed on the roof of the Universal Studios theme park on the upper lot, and Biff’s suite was filmed on stage twelve. This isn’t really a BTTF location, but because so many of you kind people have sent us in photos over the years, we thought we’d start throwing some of them up. If you’re really interested in visiting a screen-used location from Biff’s Casino, we discovered and published the staircase
seen in the movie back in 2007. Check that out here, along with the story of alarms and almost being arrested… sort of.
As an aside, I just stayed in this hotel, in room 2011. The rooms are all remodeled and pretty nice. The best part is they’re dirt cheap, and it sits at the dead end of the Fremont Street experience. I’d definitely stay there again, even though I personally find Las Vegas kind of sad and disgusting.. Check out their website here
. (Opens in new page).
ADDRESS: 1 SOUTH MAIN STREET, LAS VEGAS, NV 89101
For reservations call (702) 386-2110
GPS COORDINATES: +36.171952,-115.147088
1985 BIFFS CASINO STAIRWAY
BIFF’S CASINO STAIRWAY Filming Location from “Back to the Future” part II
WE FOUND IT! That’s right, the holy grail of Back to the Future filming locations! For YEARS people searched for this sweet spot and couldn’t find it. When we first published it on the site in 2007, it got blasted all over the internet, and no matter how much we politely requested a link back, we didn’t get it. But that’s ok. After a lot of therapy we finally managed to leave the basement and stash away our mason jars full of urine, and get back to running this site.
The year is 1985. The timeline: alternate. Marty McFly has finally confronted freaky pimp-daddy alter-Biff in his sweet suite on the 27th floor of Biff’s Casino, and dashed into the stairwell to make his escape. He heads down stairs, then hops up on and intertwining staircase and makes his way up to the roof. I don’t know about you, but as a kid this scene was one of my favorites. It’s the classic switcheroo.
If you just want the galleries and location scroll down because this one takes a little back story, but I promise if you stick with me, it’s worth reading about how we finally found this place.
I’d been visiting the Back to the Future filming locations for years and it had honestly never even occured to me that this stairway might exist outside of a soundstage. With my old partner (who sadly passed away in a freak accident involving comic books and gasoline) we started bttftour.com as an easy place to publish a bunch of locations that were not available online. Luckily, to aid our quest, Michael J Burmeister, Location manager from parts II and III bequethed his locations list to us back in the early 00s and we were able to find several missing pieces of the BTTF puzzle and share them with all our friends via the internets.
After I had found and visited all the BTTF locations I’d ever hoped to see, I thought the quest was over. One thing kept bugging me though. On one of the lists Mr. Burmeister had sent over, was a listing for “Paradise Casino stairs, The Registry Hotel.” I knew that Paradise Casino was Biff’s casino because the roof was listed above as well. Both addresses were for Universal Studios itself, but the strange part was that the Casino Roof was clearly listed as the roof of the BattleStar Galactica show building (that would ironically later become Back to the Future.. The Ride) and the stairwell said Registry Hotel.
Of course, there’s no registry hotel at Universal Studios Hollywood. But suddenly the clouds of idiocy parted and it dawned on me that maybe THE UNIVERSAL CITY HILTON, Built on the Hill outside the gate at Universal Studios, used to be the Registry hotel!!! Five seconds of googling provided the proof. GREAT SCOTT! We had the address, we had the info, everything was set!! At long last Back to the Future fans everywhere would get a shot at visiting Biff’s Casino!!!!
Stick with me, because this is where the fun begins.
Sometime in the fall of 2005 I swung by Universal. I boldly parked my giant spray-painted van (it looked like this) out front, walked into the hotel, and asked if I could look in the stairway. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I know that’s the dumbest possible thing you can do when looking for a filming location. Maybe I was hung over, I don’t know. All I know is that the suits running the counter seemed personally offended that I wanted to see their stairs, and had two giant, bald, ear-piece wearing, gorilla-faced thugs basically push me out of the building. “That’s cool bros,” I thought, “Time is on my side. I’ll come back later.”
One week later I tried my luck again, this time I figured I’d approach from the rear and enter via the underground parking garage instead of the lobby. Alas! My common sense was turned off again that day, the Van was too tall, and when it inevitably bumped against the height-limit warning bar it set off the loudest alarm I have ever heard in my entire life. I kid you not, this thing literally sounded like one of those submarine alarms from The Hunt for the Red October or the bridge of the Starship Enterprise after some rogue Klingons show up. I could barely hear him over the alarm, but the bald, earpiece wearing, badly sunburned security guard either screamed something about making love to me, or hurting me really badly. I didn’t stick around to find out, and after that experience, I didn’t come back til the fall of 2006.
Dressed to the nines and driving my Mom’s new explorer, I boldly entered via the lobby. After going up the elevator and getting in the only stairwell, I was stoked! Easy! We go all the way up, and we’ll see the spot! We were so stoked to see the right kind of railing, the right kind of doors, the right kind of steps! But when we got to the top, something was dreadfully wrong. Somehow, we couldn’t reenact the scene and hop between stairways.. and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. There were TWO stairways in that scene.. and each set went to the same floor.. how is that possible? Who would build that!? Dismayed, I searched every stairwell in the hotel to no avail and left again in defeat.
Maybe it was a set piece after all, because the architecture made no sense. Who would build two staircases in the same stairwell… but no! On hearing of my woes, a very wise man named Greg instantly pointed out that often such stairways are seen in Parking garages where the bottom and top doors on each stairwell lead to different places. As Marty would say, “Holy Shit!” I forgot to check the Parking Garage!
SO on Valentine’s day 2007 we left Orange County again. Armed with the digital camera and 4 gallons of Gas, we paid the very steep (for 2007) parking garage fee of $4.00/hr, and drove down to “P3.” – After checking every stairwell, we FINALLY found it! It’s on the wall that faces outwards, to the Northwest. In it are two stairwells with two stairways apiece inside of them. You’re looking for the one on your left, towards the freeway. It’s confusing and you’ll probably need to print a photo from this site to make sure you aren’t in the other staircase, which is mirror image to this one.
Finally I was able to live out my childhood dream and jump the banister while my friend ran down in the other direction fruitlessly searching for me. We leapt out the door to the “roof” and reenacted the confrontation scene with Biff. It was a glorious, sexy day that will live in infamy for all time.
It’s still there, and other than paint it hasn’t changed a BIT. Keep in mind that if you visit there’s still a ton of ape-brained muscly armed security and douchey, unfriendly staff ready to hate on visitors. BUT the loophole is if you pay for parking, you pay for the right to use the damn stairwell. LAWYERED. So go forth, Back to the Future fans! Get in Biff’s stairwell and jump around. The only and thing that could make it better would be these, but trust me, still pretty satisfying.
Up until recently, to reiterate, this was the only website to EVER publish it’s location. It would be pretty cool to have a link back here if you publish it. As you just read, it took a lot of sleuthing to hunt the right one – the epilogue to the story is that they saw us coming out of the stairwell and threatened to have us arrested if we didn’t delete the pictures, claiming that we could be taking them for “terrorist reasons.” Luckily, we paid to park in that garage, and they couldn’t do much. Ok, enough of all this, enjoy the pictures we’re proud to present to you! (More coming ridiculously soon)
ADDRESS: 555 UNIVERSAL TERRACE PKWY, UNIVERSAL CITY, CA
GPS COORDINATES: +34.105691, -118.141549
1955 COURTHOUSE SQUARE LOCATION
Courthouse Square Location from “Back to the Future”
Located in Universal City, California
Editor’s Note: this text is from the old version of BTTF tour – we’re going to be revising these articles in the coming days. The photos and screenshots from these articles will all be down below for the time being, instead of thumbnails within the text. Thanks for your patience, and visit us again when everything’s tidied up!
Let me tell you folks, I’ve walked the back lot and Warner Brothers, and I’ve been to a lot of filming locations, but as a Back to the Future fan, nothing raised the hair on the back of my neck like the awe-inspiring site of the courthouse square. The sheer size (bolstered by the forced-perspective-enhaced buildings) of the square, with that majestic, untouched, clocktower, conjured up images of doc brown ziplining down to send Marty back to the future! I wanted to start running around and re-enacting the hoverboard scenes and everything. Well, those days are changed forever. In June of 2009 Universal Studios re-opened courthouse square after a massive fire destroyed 3/4 of the facades and severely damaged the building behind the courthouse facade. The Courthouse had long been dressed for Ghost Whisperer before the fire, and it now appears that they’ve redesigned the entire square with more modern productions in mind. And while the new courthouse looks strikingly remeniscant of the BTTF courthouse we know and love, it is just not the same.
The Optimist in us could say that it’s possible for them to redress the set in a BTTF way but why would they do it now? The whole structure of the facade seems to have been completely reengineered, and the buildings in the square are nothing like their previous structures. Let’s face it, Back to the Future Part IV is never going to happen, but our little piece of Hill Valley was the jewel in the crown for BTTF fans. Now Universal has also removed the Back to the Future ride in the adjacent theme park as well. It’s still 100% worth the trip here, and unfortunately, we have no pictures of the new square at the moment, but you must be forewarned that what’s in our article below remains, sadly, in the past…
Like the twin pines ranch location, this is technically not a “location shoot” site like most of what you see on BTTFtour.com, but since it wasn’t a soundstage and for the most part the general public can see it for themselves, we decided to keep it. Well, that and it’s possibly the most important place in BTTF history!
Of course we must be talking about the Courthouse square, the site of the Hill Valley Clocktower as seen on screen in 1955, 1985, and 2015! Located on the Backlot of Universal Studios, Hollywood, the courthouse sits much as it has since it was erected — sort of.
Actually, the history of the backlot itself is pretty long, but we’ll spare you for the moment and just tell you about the clocktower. Originally this facade (and yes, sorry folks, it’s just a three-sided facade) was used for the TV series Leave it to Beaver, as the location of his school. In fact, the familiar clocktower portion was added specifically for Back to the Future. While filming the original movie, they actually had to trade off days with the Leave it to Beaver movie using the same building, adding and removing the clocktower as needed!
Part of Universal Studios is a theme park, but the theme park offers tram tours that actually roam through the working backlot every day. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a day when there is no filming in this particular portion, your tram will roll right down into Hill Valley… The odd thing is, though you are on the right spot, and looking at the right building, it’s technically not the same thing at all, as the clocktower burned to the ground in a backlot fire after the original film wrapped in the mid 80s.
And it gets even weirder. In an odd twist of fate, just after the original movie was finished, in 1987 a backlot fire threatened to consume most of the square, and the entire rebuilt Courthouse set itself. Fortunately it only managed to burn some of the buildings on the south side of the square, including the building used as “Lou’s Diner.” Luckily, the architectural plans for all fo the buildings were used to quickly rebuild what was necessery for the sequels, even improving them to alow for the special effects used in the 2015 scenes.
And then, just after the sequels wrapped, in 1990, almost the entirety of the square burned down again. Obviously it was rebuilt from the original blueprints, but many other buildings in the square, particularly on the north side, where it appears truly obvious that although very close, these new facades have markedly different proportions. So while it isn’t exactly the same, it’s still where it happened – and I’m inclined to ignore that fact and just enjoy it as if nothing had happened. Hey, ignorance is bliss…
But for those of you crying out “Oh no!” Click Here and here and you will see – the one thing that escaped devestation in the 1990 fire was the courthouse itself, with it’s mighty BTTF clocktower still occasionally sitting proudly atop the building. If you’re interested in the history of the Backlot, definately check out The Studio Tour website, the best unofficial site dedicated to the history of Universal’s backlot!
Thankfully, all was rebuilt for the sequels, and the clocktower/courthouse was saved from total destruction from the 1990s backlot fire, and we can still see the courthouse today. Of course, I once held an annual pass to the theme park for an entire year and did not see this location once, though that was the entire reason for my being there! It truly does vary what you’re able to see on the lot. Still, if you do decide to visit, you will be able to see it from various vantage points in the theme park proper, which is on the hill above the backlot. And of course, there’s always Back to the Future, the ride, and perhaps the largest collection of BTTF merchandise you’ll find in all of southern California.Better hurry though, the Orlando version of the BTTF ride is closing. And it’s rumored So Cal will be next, and that it’s demise will be short and swift after the official announcement comes.
I have included some shots below taken in January of 2005. You will notice that the facade has changed from red brick to a grey stone. Apperantly the courthouse’s “texture” was changed sometime around the filming of bruce almighty (featured in the mob/riot scenes), and the famous clock-hole has been covered right up! Matter of fact, on several occasions when I’ve been in the backlot, I’ve seen it completely changed, usually with the entire clock tower portion removed!
Of course, as I mentioned – Universal is, at any given time, filming several motion pictures, TV commercials, and TV shows, most of which make at least some use of the backlot, so naturally our courthouse cannot be preserved in “pristine condition,” and must be disguised to fit it’s new roles in new generations of films. No matter how much it bums out tram-riding back to the future fans!!
Believe me, I too, if I had the money, would “Save the Clocktower” and rebuild this entire square, as seen in the films, somewhere even more public, for all BTTF fans to see. Unfortunately, as I am a starving artist, that is not likely to happen anytime soon, if ever. err.. yeah.
ADDRESS: 1000 UNIVERSAL CENTER DRIVE, UNIVERSAL CITY, CA
COORDINATES: 34.141393, -118.349914