I stood at the door of a jail cell, smiling for the camera. “Oh, and you’ll want to sit in the barber chair,” Carrie Cottrill, co-owner and manager of the Woodbury Shoppe says. “It’s the actual one where Andria dies.”
I am in The Walking Dead heaven. Well actually I am in the basement museum of the all-things-TWD gift shop in Senoia, Georgia. As a die-hard fan, my day of seeking out filming locations is going great.
For those who don’t know, TWD is the most watched drama in basic cable history. The AMC-TV series is about police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies.
Downs explains as she drives toward our first stop that as much as Fayette and Coweta counties have been used by the movie and television industries for decades, it has exploded the past five years with The Walking Dead, Drop Dead Diva, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Vampire Diaries, Joyful Noise, Footloose, The Hunger Games and many others.
“There are several studios here,” she explains as she pulls alongside Lake Peachtree City where Jake (Josh Lucas) lands his plane in Sweet Home Alabama before she takes me to Starr’s Mill that doubled as Jake’s glass shop in the movie.
Next she drives onto the back lot of Drop Dead Diva, a converted airline hanger at Atlanta Regional Airport. Inside are sound stages; outside the courthouse and office building facades used in the production. The airport, used by filmmakers and actors’ corporate jets, was used in an episode of TWD. “The airport lobby doubled as a bus station,” she says.
Downs is very knowledgeable; she continues to talk about other productions, but knows I am most interested in TWD. With a smile on her face she pulls up to just shy of the guard gate at Raleigh Studios – Atlanta where most of TWD interior scenes are filmed.
“They had to put the fence around the property when The Walking Dead became so popular,” she says. “This is as close as I can get.”
We are at a railroad crossing; the railroad that goes into the woods and, in the other direction, on into Senoia, aka Woodbury from TWD. I jump out of the van and take photos of the railroad tracks, the studio sign and, in the distance, three buses painted gray to look burned — a lot like the burned-out buses in TWD Season 4.
“The prison is on studio property so we can’t see it,” she explains before turning around. “The studio owns 120 acres here.”
Moments later we drive into the little town that was transformed into Woodbury during Seasons 3 and 4, and is again being used in filming Season 5. “Over here is where they used to keep the tank, tires and other debris; the things they used in Woodbury to keep the walkers out,” she says as we slowly drive up Main Street.
The town of just over 3,000 residents has seen more than two dozen film productions since 1989 including Green Fried Tomatoes, Driving Miss Daisy and Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns — long before the first zombie stumbled onto the scene.
“Let me show you a few more things before we stop,” she says turning onto a side street.
We stop in front of a house used in Green Fried Tomatoes. Across the street is a small bridge crossing the railroad track. The bridge, she explains, was used as the railway tunnel in TWD Season 4. “They draped black cloth over it to make it look like the tunnel,” she explains.
“Because I’m giving tours, they often let me into areas where others aren’t allowed. I’ve seen a lot,” she grins.
She points out the Gin Property where The War was filmed, Bethel United Methodist Church used in A Christmas Memory and The Fighting Temptations, and The Veranda Bed & Breakfast used in Broken Bridge before we park on Main Street and make our first stop, the Woodbury Shoppe.
Cottrill says she wasn’t a fan when TWD was filming in Senoia. “A friend of mine, Scott Tigchelar (President of Raleigh Studios – Atlanta), called me and said we needed to open a store. He said when people visit Woodbury they want to take home a souvenir.
“Three weeks later we were in business,” she laughs. “Our first shop was down the street. It was going like gang busters, so three months later we moved in here.
“We had all the stars and a few zombies for the opening,” she says. “In fact everyone’s favorite redneck Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) has been in three times!”
Other Senora locations include the abandoned house where, after the survivors scatter following the destruction of the prison in Season 4, Rick and Carl find an abandoned house where they’re able to take shelter, and another house were Carl finds the can of pudding.
Scattered in the areas around Senora are other locations where the TWD has been and is being filmed.
With a little research and a great tour guide like Downs, TWD fans will find lots of filming locations and Hollywood memories in the state of Georgia.
Tags: AMC-TV, Georgia, Marilyn Jones, Peachtree City, Raleigh Studios, Senoia, Southern Hollywood Film Tour, The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead Tours, Woodbury Shoppe