The Walking Dead Self-Guided Film Location Tour with Some Good Rib Gnawing in “Woodbury”
I’m not sure how it started, exactly, our family’s The Walking Dead series obsession. I think it was the “Zombiefest” my boys had a couple of years ago around Halloween, staying up late with creep-themed foods and watching old, cheesy b&w zombie movies. Thanks to the Zombiefest, (check out my 2014 Zombiefest party food ideas for a TWD premiere party) they begged us not long after to check out the first episode of TWD on Netflix to see if it was approved for them to watch. It was NOT. Ew! Yuck! Ick! It was horrible. We told our boys it was too gross, too violent. Then said next episode, please to the one holding the remote.
It was no use. We were hooked. For two adults who grew up in the Jason/Freddy Krueger/Steven King era we quickly decided as we continued watching that, though the writers and special effects crew have done a really good job of grossing out viewers, we were seeing some very important aspects of the show that weren’t written into the horror stories of our generation. The sociological and psychological viewpoints, as well as the depiction of the necessity for survival in a world that is suddenly without power and modern conveniences, we realized, could teach our teen sons things they could never learn in our little home school or in a homeschool co-op. Mhm. Yup. That was our rationality. “Next episode, please!”
So that brings us south of Atlanta, after months of researching by yours truly, to a little town called Senoia, known to TWD fans as the evil “governor’s” lair of Woodbury. I used Google Maps The Walking Dead Film Locations markers to get us from place to place. A circular route from I-85 down through Peachtree City and on to Senoia allowed us to explore and walk the towns that filming has been centered around in a nice self-guided tour of some of the major locations. Our route ended at Grantville, where the “Clear” episode was filmed. From there it was easy to catch I-85 to head back toward Atlanta.
And now I need to post a SPOILER ALERT. This is for anyone who is catching up on the series or doesn’t want to see photos of the film locations. I have included pictures in this post of all the ones we found on this trip, with directions to some for those who don’t want to take the time to pore over every little detail of the Google Maps markers. I was surprised to find when I was planning this trip last year that there isn’t a very good app for the self-guided tour, though there are touring companies who, for a reasonable fee, will take guests on a 3 hour bus trip of some of the locations. Atlanta Movie Tours is one of them.
As soon as you pull into the small town of Senoia, Ga, even without the tire barricade and debris filling the streets, you know you’re in fictitious Woodbury.
Though I did start imagining “Governor music”, I waited for a creepy tingle to work its way up my spine. Truth is, Woodbury’s downright cute. Adorable even!
Our first stop, where we hoped we’d find a Senoia TWD self-guided map of some sort, was The Official Walking Dead Store, also known as The Woodbury Shoppe.
The main floor has all the t-shirts and tourist trap items that you’d expect, but also a few film props. I don’t know what was going on down behind a chained off flight of stairs to the basement, but by doing a few yoga twisty folds I was able to hold my camera down at an angle with the lens zoomed out to get these shots. Actual film props? I don’t know, but what I saw was a jail cell and a set of doors that looks identical to the hospital “dead inside” doors that appear in the first episode of the very first season. We’re really hoping that is that case and a museum or addition to the store is in the process of being created.
The store did not carry self-guided tour maps, but the store clerks were very helpful in directing us to two film locations right down the street– the house that Carl and Rick find shelter in while Rick recuperates from his final fight with the Governor, and “Chocolate Puddin’ House”, as it is called in our family.
We found Milton’s lab on our own as we took a side road back to the main street of Senoia.
The town of Senoia is serious about saving their historical buildings and does so through the Senoia Area Historical Society. This makes strolling through the back streets of the little Southern city a fabulous occupation for anyone who adores old buildings.
Senoia isn’t just the site of film locations in The Walking Dead series, many movies have also been filmed in the charming little town. Bronze plaques, like Hollywood stars, are set within the brickwork of Senoia’s city sidewalks.
After a drive around with our jaws hanging while looking at acres and acres of farmland, criss crossed by streams and back roads to nowhere, we headed back to town to find lunch.
They weren’t kidding!
There aren’t many food service establishments in Senoia, but after we saw the sign for Maguire’s Irish Pub we knew we needn’t look further.
And once we opened the large wooden medieval door we knew we’d made a good choice.
Because we were in zombie territory, my boys didn’t hesitate to order half racks of ribs so they could gnaw on some bones like walkers. I know. Ew. But one thing we know how to do in this family is get in the spirit of things.
Perfectly sweet and tart coleslaw accompanied the barbeque.
My boy doing his best living dead impersonation. Note the blank stare during the voracious attack.
It looks like he’s really going to town there, but the meat on those ribs was so tender that it basically melted off the bone. Both of my rib-loving sons were exceedingly happy.
I had the best bowl of Irish stew one can imagine, which came with a slice of Irish soda bread that was more the consistency of fluffy pound cake than the stiff loaves I pull out of my oven. It’s now my new mission to create a fluffy, currant-filled loaf like Maguires’.
Kids eat free on Wednesdays!
As it turns out, Maguire’s is the meeting place for sightseers who are signed up with Atlanta Movie Tours to take the bus trip.
Most of the staff members are Irish, our waiter Theo told us. That would explain why the Irish food was so darn good. My husband ordered a reuben. Not exactly Irish, but all NYC, which is where we were told the Irish owners were from. And that must be why it was the best dang reuben I’ve ever sunk my teeth into. Yes, I nibble a little of everyone’s food when I find a restaurant that’s yummy enough to blog. I had one teensy corner of Hubby’s sandwich and didn’t want to stop. Wow! Marble rye, oodles of cheese and corned beef, just enough sauerkraut…perfectly toasted. I know exactly what I’m having the next time we eat at Maguire’s. And there will definitely be a next time because though it is around 3 hours from our home, it is certainly worth the drive down for another good meal.
I wasn’t going to attempt dessert because I just didn’t think I could do it, but that Theo is a salesman, and I don’t mean of the pushy, used car variety. He just knows the menu and seems very familiar with the manner in which things are prepared in the kitchen. You end up saying yes, please before you know it when he’s making menu suggestions. Well, anyone who follows my blog or knows me personally is aware that I can rarely say no to bread pudding. I could eat it every day. This one I couldn’t finish, but if we hadn’t been on a road trip and I’d known for sure when next I’d have access to a refrigerator, I certainly would have taken it with me to save for breakfast…or my midnight snack. I adore a moist bread pudding that holds it shape and stands up on a plate. Bourbon sauce was drizzled over this one, which was made from all the leftover breads that are used in the restaurant. Excellent, from the back-of-the-house point of view of this frugal girl.
We started our self-guided tour on a Sunday morning with the intention of doing half of our planned route in one afternoon so that we could be all settled in to a hotel room by the time the latest episode of The Walking Dead aired that evening. Everything was right on schedule and we arrived and checked into a room with enough time to spare for a swim in the indoor pool. Then we realized, to our horror, that the hotel had every channel in their line-up but AMC. We tried to find a way to watch it on the internet, but that was a bust as well. So here we were on a Walking Dead tour but were missing the new episode. Hilarious.
The next day we had our free hotel breakfast, the kind with the flippy waffle maker, and headed out for another day of sightseeing. We went back to Senoia, then drove down from the little town to the intersection at State Route 16. We continued through the light to Luther Bailey Rd. to pass the location where Rick and Shane had a conversation concerning Shane’s involvement with Lori and Carl. That incident was filmed at the intersection of Luther Bailey Rd. and old Highway 85. “Sofia’s church”, the church that was giving off a timed bell chime when Carol’s little girl went missing, is a little further down the road. We didn’t check to see if there were walkers faithfully occupying the pews inside, but made our way back toward the highway in search of the house in which they looked for Sofia within the same time frame. This one we never found, so we assume it is in the forest and can’t be seen from the road.
Hershel’s farm was next on my list, east on State Route 16 out of Senoia, then north on 85/74. I knew we wouldn’t be able to see it, as it’s on a large chunk of private property, but from the Google satellite image I was sure I had pinpointed its location. These three images are my best guess at where on the globe the farm exists.
Approaching the drive to the farm.
Just past the drive.
Looking in the direction of the farm, which I’m guessing is just over that rise.
After trying to locate Hershel’s farm, we drove south back to 16 and made a left. Another left, almost immediately, is Chestlehurst Rd.
In plain view is the roadhouse from which Merle lures walkers with his car radio.
On down the road is the prison.
A prop lot is located to the right just before the studio sign comes into view.
Though located on studio property, the rooftops of the warehouses that are used as the prison compound in the series are visible.
The dock and pond that the Governor stands on while looking down at one of his latest victim’s, Pete, is also located on studio property behind the prison buildings, according to Google Maps.
We retraced our steps to 16, and this time headed west to take Rock House Rd. to Elder Mill Road. Elder Mill is the location of the scene in which Rick declares that if anyone wants to stay with the group, after they were chased from Hershel’s farm by a tremendously large herd of walkers, that they needed to know that the group “wasn’t a democracy any more”. It should be noted that, while there are many group shots of TWD tour attendees at the mill floating around the web, Elder Mill is also on private property and cannot be legally accessed. We couldn’t even find a place to pull over for a good shot, so this one was taken on a second pass of the location by me from the passenger’s seat with my camera zoomed out through the driver’s window. A new fence has been installed across the front of the stone structure at the mill to prevent people from entering the access road. I was so disappointed, since I was certain that it was part of a park that we would be able to explore.
After our short visit to Elder Mill, we again took State Route 16 west to Sharpsburg and the location of “Hershel’s Saloon”, where he goes when he’s finally had enough and turns back to drink after years of sobriety. He’d had a pretty rough day after the walker barn incident, I certainly would have done the same thing!
“Dumpster Alley” where Rick, Glen, and Hershel engage in a shoot-out with mercenaries from Pennsylvania.
Across the street, one of the thugs, Randall, jumps from a rooftop and skewers his leg on the finial of a wrought iron fence post. Ew. After preparing to remove the lower portion of the boy’s leg to free him, Rick decides to save time, when walkers begin to surround the group, by jerking Randall’s leg from the post. Ouch!
Directly across from the front of the bar is Steve’s Pharmacy. Inside this store, Lori gets a pregnancy test and Glen gets a surprise from Maggie.
We hurried with our camera shots because, just like in the show, walkers were quickly approaching!
We outran them and headed to Newnan, Ga and the Governor’s walker arena.
And right here is where we missed our turn. We didn’t realize at the time, but if we’d been in the right lane when approaching Salibide Avenue we would have found the arena right away. Fortunately, Newnan is one of those great Southern towns with a square. One road up, another road down. It was very easy to get back to where we needed to be. More on Newnan, and the great lunch we had there, coming in another post.
Though a little lackluster in broad daylight, creepy nonetheless.
Some fun filming remnants.
From Newnan, we headed down I-85 for a few minutes, until we reached the Grantville exit. Tom Tom came in handy when it came time to turn onto the main streets of this virtually deserted town. It’s a smudge on the map, really, but the people of this area seem to be working hard to bring it to life.
I’d read that the mayor, Jim Sells, owns a popular restaurant in Grantville in which the “Clear” episode is played for patrons. A walking tour of the town and film locations also was said to begin from the restaurant. This is what we found, however, when we arrived. Anybody want a restaurant?
This is the girl you want to see when you reach Grantville, the unofficial tourism board director, Dawn, from the A New Dawn store.*
In her shop you can buy TWD film locations walking tour maps of Grantville, and she can also get you set up with a guided tour. Her place is the only restroom stop in town, we were told, and in the same strip as a comic store and a really great NY style pizzeria that also has homemade meatballs and sauce on the menu. If they run out, Dawn told us, that’s it for the day. If we hadn’t been so stuffed from our lunch in Newnan we would definitely have tried those meatballs! I feel another road trip and blog post coming on…
Dawn’s a sweetie. If you stop by Grantville, be sure to visit her for some inside info. on the town, current filming projects (Jim Carrey was just there. Let her tell you all about him.), and how the locals can spot a tourist a mile away, camera around the neck and zombie t-shirt or no. We realized this first-hand when we were driving down a back road along the railroad tracks and passed a group of teen boys. One chomped his teeth at us like a walker, and of course I didn’t have my camera ready.
Official Grantville walking tours will not be scheduled again until March 1, 2014, so Dawn had us call the mayor for a tour. He was busy but sent Kimmie. I don’t know who Kimmie was, maybe a relative, but she came and showed us around Morgan’s apartment. The building has been recreated to look as it did in the “Clear” episode.
Watch out. This door mat is the real thing, left from filming. Fortunately, there was nothing but solid ground beneath it.
It cracked me up that the sign over the doorway has been hung for effect but edited for tourists.
I love trains!!! This engine came rolling through while we were up inside the building.
Whoever was on the building’s props/renovation project did a very good job. Being in Morgan’s apartment makes you feel as if you are in a post, post-apocalyptic world, especially since Grantville is virtually a ghost town right now, and has a creepy vibe all its own.
I love the next picture because in the “Clear” episode, Morgan is on the roof firing down at Rick. Michonne tells Rick that she’s sure she can get up on the roof, and then the next second she pops her head out over the edge. I find that so funny because it’s just impossibly quick, but when Michonne does something like that, you may giggle, but the next second you are thinking that if anyone could pull that off, she could! What a fabulous character!
Mayor Jim swung around a few times in his truck while we were strolling through town to give us more information on locations when he thought of something else he wanted to tell us. He even got out to let me take a picture of him with my boys, one that will remain in my personal album because I don’t usually post photos of my children here. But it was just really nice, and it made us laugh every time he pulled back around.
The train depot is the building that was used for another of Michonne’s “sleight of hand” moves, the cafe in which she salvages Carl’s family photo from an overbearing group of excited walkers. Mayor Sells told us that “the next time we come” to Grantville, the “cafe” will be repainted as it was in TWD. Now I have to go back for pizza, meatballs, and to see the finished cafe. I can’t wait!
From this vantage point the camera captures Rick, Carl, and Michonne entering town in the series. And I’m REALLY glad I wasn’t standing there taking this picture when the train came through. That would have scared the bejeezes out of me.
Other places around town look as if zombies really are occupying some of the deserted spaces. I can see why the producers chose Grantville for filming. Stand in front of this set of doors long enough and you just may imagine that half-decayed fingers will start reaching out for you at any moment.
Morgan’s “clearing” field, the site of an old cotton mill, is pretty eerie without walkers piled inside.
And though I hope that this entire post is useful to anyone who wants to make their way around some of the Walking Dead film sites, I’m not putting the Grantville photos in any particular order or adding directions to locations here, because I want anyone who is interested in visiting the town to stop by A New Dawn and buy a map or a tea cup, or use the potty, or just show your support for a township that is making an effort to grow and come back to life. Meatballs are always a good idea, so save room for a trip to the town pizza shop.
Now here are some major spoiler photos, though we were only given a little information on the events surrounding the actual sites in the series. Mayor Sells directed us to “the funeral home” that will be important in an upcoming episode, and the Grantville cemetery, which is also a film location that will appear in the series later on. That is all I will say, but if you visit Grantville and the home that is depicted as the funeral home in a future episode, it is very important to the owners that if you want to take pictures of the house, you remain in your vehicle to help them maintain their privacy.
Update: 3/13/14 ~ The funeral home/cemetery scenes have aired! Here’s a behind the scenes look at the filming.
And that concluded our planned self-guided tour. Our next Walking Dead film locations tour will be focused on first season scenes that were shot in Atlanta.
Update: June 10, 2014
I get a lot of hits to this post via Google searches of the filming location of fictitious Terminus. I haven’t had the opportunity to take another film locations trip to the Atlanta area since my last visit in February of this year, but Terminus does appear on the updated Google Maps list of The Walking Dead Film Locations. It is located west of I-85, across the interstate from Turner Field, near downtown Atlanta. It appears that it can easily be reached by exiting to Turner Field and going west on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW. From there, one of several side streets can be taken south to the train yard. But as I said, I haven’t been to “Terminus”, I’m just using the Google Maps marker as a guide. At this time, Terminus appears as the last listing in the map’s side bar of locations, as this was where the writers left our heroic survivors when Season 4 ended. I can’t wait to see it for myself.
Update: September 17, 2014
Exciting current film location news!!!
Julie from The Georgia Mercantile Company, a farmer’s market and purveyor of products made in Georgia, has informed me that The Walking Dead Season 5 film crew is building a set behind the store. Filming at this location, in downtown Senoia, GA, is coming soon, for those of you who want to get as close to the action as possible, rather than just visiting and photographing past film locations. Look for the town’s post office to locate the store and soon-to-be film location.
Tickets for a new Senoia TWD film locations tour can be purchased in The Georgia Mercantile store. That’s very exciting news since, as far as I know, there wasn’t an official walking tour of fictitious Woodbury when I visited with my family over the winter. You can also find more info. on the tour by visiting its Facebook page, Senoia on the Big Screen Walking Tours.
You can read Julie’s comments below this post, as well as a Terminus visitor’s experience.
Beth Hospital Film Location Update: July 13, 2015 ~ Grady Memorial~ I get a lot traffic coming from this Google search. The location is on Google’s TWD film location map now that it has been updated to include Season 5. Here is what it says when you click on the location, “After resting and tending to wounds, Daryl and Carol finally enter a building where they can see Grady Memorial Hospital through the windows. (Note: This marker denotes the view they see looking through the window. They are most likely standing in the Hurt Building a few blocks away to obtain this view.)”
The buildings in the Beth hospital episodes are located near Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE and Armstrong St. SE, in the block between Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE and Pratt St. SE, according to the map. It appears to be accessible by taking the Edgewood Avenue NE exit from I-75, northbound, but I am only guessing since I haven’t yet toured to this location, myself.
Such a funny, sweet, inspiring guy! I really enjoyed talking with him about his career and flipping through his actor portfolio. TWD fans may recognize him as the herd leader in the interstate breakdown in Episode 1 of the 2nd season, in the scene that results in Sophia’s disappearance. Jeremy has also appeared in films, such as Killing Lincoln and alongside Viggo Mortensen in The Road, among others. Stop for an entertaining chat with this talented go-getter if he’s a guest at an event near you.
What a fun way to punctuate premier day of the new Fear the Walking Dead series!
Fear the Walking Dead Premiere~ August 23, 2015 Whoa! What did you think, my fellow Dead fans? Give me your review of the new series in the comments section below. I’d love to know what other people thought of the first episode! Personally, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was watching a TWD-related series. It felt more like a high quality zombie flick, such as World War Z— very well made, from filming to acting, to the spine-tingling musical score, reminiscent of the “Governor music” from the original series, that did a number on my pulse as I perched on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t left with the same sense of need-to-know urgency that I felt watching Rick Grimes adapt to the new world that had developed around him while he was in a coma in Episode 1 of the original, but it was fun to know ahead of time what the characters didn’t know and wait for their reactions to their own changing world. I think it’s going to be long week, waiting for Episode 2 to come around!