Atlanta is no stranger to the supernatural when it comes to film or television. With AMC’s hugely popular The Walking Dead and CW’s The Vampire Diaries filming around the city, it was just a matter of time before fans started making a real business out of it. And that’s exactly how several Atlanta-based tour companies were born.
Carrie Sagel Burns and Patti Davis, both fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead, recently started Atlanta Movie Tours, and launched their first tour just the end of March. Their “Big Zombie Tour” features a number of rotating guides who are all local actors that have appeared in titles like Zombieland or The Walking Dead.
The “Big Zombie Tour” provides fans with a 3 hour walking and driving tour of all of Atlanta’s local zombie hangouts. While the locations may vary from tour to tour, fans can count on seeing locations that they recognize from season one and two of The Walking Dead. In fact, one of the most surprising parts of the tour may just be that some of those sets are still fully intact in downtown Atlanta. Chains used to keep the zombies out of Bradbury’s (where Andrea debates stealing a mermaid pendant for Amy in episode 2) are still wrapped around the doors, and the store logo created for the episode continues to brands the doors as well.
One of the more recognize locations, the Nelson Street Bridge, is set for demolition this summer, so fans won’t be able to see eerie post-apocalyptic looking bridge that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) rode his horse across much longer. However, fans will get a chance to view filming locations that general public does not have access to, such as the quarry used in season 1 of the series. The location was actually just rented out by J.J. Abrams for filming his new NBC pilot Revolution which premieres on September 17th.
“As movie and television fans ourselves, we are thrilled that so many productions have fallen in love with our beautiful city and state. To be able to share Atlanta with visitors through Atlanta Movie Tours is icing on the cake,” said Patti Davis.
Georgia’s tax incentives have lured Hollywood to the south and made businesses like this a reality for local fans. “The Big Zombie Tour” has already proven to be a success, and Atlanta Movies Tour is adding additional tours to their line-up including one for The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
There’s more than just zombie love in Atlanta though, CW’s The Vampire Diaries also has a rabid fan following (the series stars have over 2 million followers on Twitter) that loves to visit the set when in town, and it’s been a great business for Jessica Lowery. Since season one of the hit supernatural drama, she has been running Mystic Falls Tours which takes fans around different exterior sets used in the series.
Lowery simply wanted to share her passion for the show with other fans, and that was what inspired her to start the business.
“We had a strong following on our Vampire Stalkers website and wanted others to get to see the cool things we get to see on a daily basis.” Lowery explained.
Lowery started out with just a couple tours a week, and now she hosts two to three tours a day with six to twelve customers per tour. Mystic Falls Tours has attracted fans as far away as Australia and Austria, and domestically they’ve already hosted fans from every single state this year.
Fans can expect for the Mystic Fall Tour to last about 2 hours and visit such locations as the Mystic Grill, Elena and Jeremy’s house, Mystic Falls Courthouse, Caroline Forbe’s house, Founder’s Hall, and the Salvatore family home from the 1800’s – just to name a few.
How have fans discovered Mystic Falls Tours? Not only have highly trafficked fan sites recommend Lowery’s tour to fans – but so has the cast.
“Ian Somerhalder actually endorses our tour which is super cool. Kat Graham and Ian have both came out to see fans for us and say hi.” said Lowery. “This doesn’t happen all the time, but is super cool when it does happen.”
The Vampire Diaries production has also embraced the tours. Lowery admits this not only makes her job easier, but it also helps the fans to feel more included.
“I couldn’t believe it when I learned Vampire Diaries filmed only a couple of hours from me.” said Birmingham based fan Caroline McCormic. “When you live in Alabama, you don’t usually get a chance to visit the set of your favorite TV show. It was really fun to visit the various outdoor film locations and see what they look like in real life. It felt like walking into my TV set.”
At the end of the day, that’s all fans really want – to feel connected to the characters and shows that they love. If they can join in the magic, then they too are a part of the stories that they love.
Article by: Emma Loggins
Photo Information: Sonya Thompson of The Walking Dead (Photo By: Emma Loggins)