Much of the Georgia film scene wouldn’t be where it is without shows like The Walking Dead and the same can be said for the show without Georgia. Atlanta Movie Tours has filled a need for visitors interested in seeing where their favorite television shows, namely TWD, and movies were filmed and where the actors hung out during days off. I previously went on the Big Zombie tour with Atlanta Movie Tours and despite the fact that I didn’t yet watch the show then, I was amazed by all the filming locations I’d driven past hundreds of times without noticing them. It’s a great primer for fans of the show and an ideal way to spend a day in Atlanta.
But for mega fans, you must get down to Senoia, a small town an hour south of Atlanta that has served as the hub for filming since Season 3. You can either drive yourself down there or book a ride with the tour company, which can get you there. You can even do both tours in one day if you’re up for it! Give yourself plenty of time to look around, especially if you’re there during the week when they film. The tours leave from The Woodbury Shoppe, the official store, where you’ll find every type of memorabilia imaginable from replica crossbows to hats with Daryl’s face on them. Don’t forget to go downstairs where you can find set pieces.
After checking in, you’ll board a bus and hit the road, but not before you get a full look at Senoia with your guide, an extra from the show, pointing out what happened here. For example, Senoia played the part of Woodbury and played heavily during the days with the Governor. Colin, my guide that played one of the Governor’s lackies, pointed out where the Governor tortures Andrea, the Masonic Lodge that was used as the armory and the Governor’s apartment, located above the town’s fudge shop. Right across the railroad tracks is the current set, Alexandria, which is behind the wall constructed for filming. What visitors might not know is that in addition to being a set, there are four homes that are currently being lived in. Inside the set, which is not open to visitors, is Rick’s house and the entry gate. But don’t get too excited, as you’ll quickly be stopped by security if you get too close!
Around the corner were the “Claimer’s house” and the house where Carl sat on the roof and ate pudding. If you’re having trouble thinking of many of the obscure scenes mentioned on the tour, most will be played on the television screens on the bus. From there, we drove for a while as Colin, and his fellow guides Stephanie and Kent, who both have played walkers, told us things we didn’t know about the show. For example, it takes 8 days to shoot a single episode. The “walking dead” are never referred to as zombies during the show. Meat is mostly used as the organs and skin that walkers eat, particularly pulled pork, but they also have a vegetarian version for dietary restricted undead. Every time you see a clock, it’s set to the season and episode numbers. And perhaps most interesting, the show’s creators put homages to classic zombie films and other shows throughout the show’s run.
Many of the stops are quick drive-bys, including Herschel’s bar and Steve’s Pharmacy, both in Sharpsburg, and the coal tower where Abraham, Glen and Eugene look for Maggie, others allow you to get out of the bus. The first was the Caldwell Tanks facility outside of Newnan. This is one of three locations that you can only visit by tour as it is still operated as a storage tank facility. Scenes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay were also filmed here, but in TWD it was called the Walker Arena where Merle and Caesar fight walkers for the amusement of others.
Nearby is a seedy motel where Merle hotwires a car when Micchone is handcuffed to a pole. This isn’t, however, a stop where you walk around as it’s a real residence.
The next major stop was in Grantville, the town that was, until recently, for sale on eBay for $680,000. We passed the cemetery where Daryl carries Beth and the King County Cafe, an ode to Stephen King, where Carl and Micchone stop to look for a crib. The water tower featured in that season’s opening credits was also on the way. But what the tour attendees really loved was Morgan’s apartment from the “Clear” episode, the second location that the AMT crew carries a key for. While only the doormat remains from the original set, they’ve recreated it from stills down to the writing on the wall, some of which may foreshadow future events in the series.
When we arrived in Haralson, we saw the mercantile from the opening credits, the pharmacy where Micchone gets medicine for Andrea and the shed where the Governor meets Rick, which AMT also has a key for. But it was across the street in an open field where Daryl has to kill his brother Merle, who has turned into a walker. The group practiced their best zombie walks, taught by the experts, as we wandered around the mill.
On our way back into Senoia we saw the trailers where the actors hang out in between filming!
There are a few places you can’t see, including Herschel’s farm, which is private property, and the prison, which is located on the Raleigh Studios lot, Atlanta Movie Tours gives you entry into the most Walking Dead filming locations. It is possible to do it yourself, but the access is unparalleled. Other tours devoted to the show exist, but I firmly believe AMT is the best. Not only do you get background information from the people who have worked on set, they are fans themselves. You can also put your trivia to good use and win prizes!
You could easily spend a night in Senoia before or after your tour or grab a meal beforehand. I recommend Katie Lou’s Cafe, which is a good barbecue restaurant. There are a few big hotels in Peachtree City and one bed and breakfast where Chandler Riggs stays while he is in town.
The Big Zombie 2 Tour costs $65 and runs from Wednesday to Sunday, lasting three hours. All tours start at 2:30 pm so that guests who want to go on Big Zombie 1 earlier can do both. You can also check out their Hunger Games, Gone with the Wind and Atlanta Movies and TV tours.