Last year I wrote about my 2016 trip to Atlanta where I spent the weekend (courtesy of the fantastic Atlanta Movie Tours) enjoying all things The Walking Dead, visiting locations, meeting extras, watching episodes, posing with walkers…that kind of thing.
In fact, I loved it all so much that I went back. And did all the tours again. And saw some new places along the way…including the Zombie Walking Tour which would take me right up close to the walls of Alexandria to see the windmill – and it meant I would get to spend a day or so hanging out in Senoia, one of my favourite towns.
**** SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS ****
If you’re not up to date with the show, some locations may be spoilery!
Also: some shots are taken from a bus window so not my best quality.
My flight to Atlanta arrived on a Friday afternoon, giving me time to do some location spotting of my own before taking three organised tours over the weekend.
I was staying in Downtown Atlanta so just a few minutes walk from my hotel was where Rick rode his horse in the pilot episode – and the location of the tank. Also found a spot from the opening scene in Baby Driver.
Early on the Saturday morning I did some more exploring. I knew this place wasn’t on the tour itineraries, and I’d not seen it before. But the episode this building features in is probably my favourite episode, and I am not going to turn down the chance to see funky modern architecture with angles and glass and curves…
The Cobb Energy Centre for Performing Arts (well the exterior, anyway) doubled as the CDC in Atlanta in the dramatic finale of Season 1. The interior shots were filmed elsewhere but I was very excited to see this distinctive building against the blue sky.
I spent so long photographing it from various angles and generally grinning that I was convinced security would move me on. My Uber driver who took me to the Movie Tours depot was a huge Walking Dead fan and didn’t realise it was used as the CDC so he was just as excited as I was.
Atlanta Movie Tours get it just right – they can personalise your experience, they communicate well with you prior to your tour, the tour guides have just the right balance of facts and behind-the-scenes info, they do quizzes and play episodes when driving to locations and are happy to answer any questions you have. The guides are fans too – the biggest – and have worked on the show. Over the weekend I was in the capable hands of Stephen, Josh, Charlie and Georgia (and our driver Ricky) who really made each tour fun and a bit of a dream for a fan like me.
I have so many photos from the weekend that I’m just going to post some of my favourites – and in no particular order. Since I took the tours before in 2016, there had been some changes: when I first did the tour I could get out of the bus and take some good photos of the hospital from the pilot and from Terminus, but I could only snap shots from the bus window this time.
Atlanta’s big business for movies and TV now, and locations from Black Panther and Ant-Man and the Wasp were pointed out during the many miles of the tours. So here are my highlights…
The Movie Tours HQ is right next to the building used as the department store in Season 1, where Merle found himself handcuffed to the roof.
The feed mill had an iconic place in the show’s title sequence for many years. It’s close to the barn where the Governor and Rick have their face to face moment, and its overgrown, rusty look is perfect for the show.
The wall is in Grantville, a little drive out from Atlanta, and key scenes involving Morgan were also filmed here. The wall was a perfect spot for a tour group shot and keepsake photo.
The tour stopped at The Goat Farm, and I was happy to see we could still wander around like we could last time. It’s an arts venue offering performance spaces to local artists but best known to TWD fans as the Vatos’ base and nursing home where the group go to get Glenn back.
Another of my favourite spots. Named in homage to Stephen King, King County Sheriff’s Station.
In real life it’s the admin campus of Atlanta Mission, a charity working with the city’s homeless, but it’s most familiar as Harrison Memorial Hospital where Rick Grimes wakes up in the pilot episode. He emerges from the grey door on the left hand side of the photo and staggers down the stairs to a mass of corpses.
Merle and Michonne arrive here in Season 3, a few scenes before Merle meets his end at the hands of the Governor. It’s where Merle is trying to hot-wire the car and sets off the alarm.
Probably more familiar with the letters spelling out ‘Terminus’ in the window panels – it’s just a few minutes away from downtown.
My wonderful tour guide and driver took a little detour so I could see Newnan High School. In Season 2, when Shane and Otis go looking for medical supplies to help Carl, they end up here, overrun with walkers.
As you can see a lot of these locations featured in the first couple of seasons. When the action shifted to Woodbury in Season 3, filming took place in Senoia. Stand at the foot of the main street in Senoia, turn around and you’re in Alexandria, with the rusty wall and windmill within spitting distance. Walk a couple of streets and you’re at the Pudding House.
I was VERY happy to see this windmill – sadly not in action that day – but there has been a huge time jump in the show since I was in town last and since then the Alexandria community have built the mill, but of course the tower is no longer there.
Security is understandably tight around the filming locations, and the tour guides were quick to share some horror stories about the length fans will go to in order to meet the stars and get in on the action…one involved a mother sending her child through what she thought was a tunnel to Alexandria.
Senoia is a beautiful town – definitely worth a visit, even if you’re not a TWD fan.
The Senoia Coffee Shop has plenty of love for the show, and has kept its sign up. A lot of the locations have some great behind-the-scenes photographs on the wall and I will say – without a shadow of a doubt – that these are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had in my life (perhaps joint first with Frontier in Albuquerque, NM) a geektastic menu.
The tour company personalised my tour so I could have time to eat at Nic & Norman’s, a restaurant in Senoia owned by Greg Nicotero & Norman Reedus. I’d been before but not to spend any quality time. It’s cheap, it’s tasty, and I took some sweet potato fries home with me to the hotel to enjoy with the remains of my cinnamon rolls.
Just a short walk from the walls of Alexandria are these two houses from Season 4. There’s the ‘Pudding House’, where Carl sits on the roof eating his chocolate pudding in ‘After’ and the house where Rick hides under the bed in ‘Claimed’.
I wasn’t sure I’d get as much out of these tours second time round but there’s something about the staff at AMT that make these trips as enjoyable as possible. It’s a fun way to see Atlanta, you’re in good hands, and if you’ve got anything more than a passing interest in The Walking Dead you’ll enjoy yourself.