"It was a surprise for the customers," a Starline employee told PEOPLE. "They thought they were just on a normal tour"

By Jodi Guglielmi
February 26, 2017 11:02 PM

A few unsuspecting celebrity enthusiasts were in for the surprise of their lives when their Hollywood tour bus made a stop at the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel enlisted the help of Starline City Sightseeing Hollywood bus tours to pull off the elaborate gag — and the company was more than happy to get in on the joke.

“It was a surprise for the customers,” a Starline employee told PEOPLE. “They thought they were just on a normal tour. A few people had made reservations but others bought their tickets that day.”

Although it’s not yet known whether the the idea came from Kimmel, the show’s producers or both, one thing’s for sure: this tour was certainly anything but normal. Kimmel brought the group into the Dolby Theatre, letting them get up close and personal with the biggest names in the industry.

Watch the PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Oscars pre-show on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!

Once the group entered the theater, they hugged, kissed and took selfies with celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and Ryan Gosling. A few lucky passengers even got to hold Mahershala Ali‘s newly-won Oscar trophy.

Newlyweds Yulree Chen and Patrick Tio took to Instagram to share a selfie they snapped with Gosling from inside the ceremony.

“Yes, we were there,” Chen wrote. “BLOWING OUR MINDS.”

And to make sure the joke went off without a hitch, a few of the employees were also left in the dark until the big reveal.

Check out PEOPLE’s full 2017 Academy Awards coverage and complete winners list!

“They didn’t tell us here. I didn’t find out until I came in on my shift tonight,” they said. “I couldn’t believe it!”

 

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