Fan Travel: Vacations for Movie Buffs
Got a favorite movie or TV series? If it’s one that was hugely popular with a massive fan base, there’s probably a tour of the film locations available, either as DIY road map instructions or as a guided expedition for hire. For devoted fans that’s the next best thing to actually stepping into the movie.
Consider, for example, a cult film like Somewhere in Time, the 1980 romantic fantasy starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Filmed at the elegant Grand Hotel on scenic Mackinac Island in Michigan, Somewhere in Time has a fanciful storyline - a playwright time-travels back to 1912 for a life-changing romantic encounter with a beautiful actress. It was not a box-office success at the time and most critics panned it but the film obviously struck a chord with moviegoers because year after year hordes of fans descend upon Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel to pay homage to their favorite film. And for the 26th anniversary of the film in Oct. 2016, you can luxuriate in the same lush surroundings via a weekend package deal that includes a lakeview room, a costume cocktail reception, five-course dinners, a screening of the film, appearances by returning cast members and other amenities.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Field of Dreams, the 1989 baseball fantasy drama with Kevin Costner, has inspired an equally fervent fan base that has transformed Dyersville, Iowa (where it was filmed) into an unlikely but immensely popular tourist destination. Groups of 20 or more can book a guided tour or you can plot your own visit and add in some non-movie sightseeing like the nearby PromiseLand Winery and Iowa Baseball Museum of Norway.
The craze for all-things-zombie continues to be more than just a passing fad and has spawned a cottage industry in Atlanta where the AMC TV series The Walking Dead is filmed. Atlanta Movie Tours offers their Big Zombie Tour, which not only includes actual locations from the series, but also sites used in Pet Seminary II (1992) and the 2009 horror comedy Zombieland.
Walk in John Wayne’s Footsteps
Monument Valley is an internationally recognized location to any Western fan, thanks to the films of director John Ford. He first visited there in 1938 while planning production on Stagecoach, the film that launched John Wayne’s film career, and followed that with many more Westerns starring the Duke. Black’s Monument Valley Tours offers a variety of guided tours through John Ford’s “backlot” (jeep, horse or on foot). For lodging you can stay at the historic Goulding’s Lodge, which once housed Ford and his cast and crews.
Hitchcock’s San Francisco
San Francisco has been showcased in many major motion pictures but it has rarely looked as enticing or as picturesque as seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). And fans of the film can visit most of the same places where James Stewart shadowed Kim Novak.
In Search of The Third Man
For most film buffs, Vienna, Austria will be forever associated with the 1949 suspense thriller The Third Man starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles. And any Third Man fan visiting the city will want to explore Harry Lime’s stomping grounds on either a guided walking tour or, if you dare, a canal journey into the Vienna sewers.
Want to combine a tropical island getaway with an exotic movie location tour? Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaii island of O’ahu offers a dreamy combination of pristine beaches, lush rainforests and cool movie locations for such blockbuster films as Jurassic Park (1993), Pearl Harbor (2001), Godzilla (2014) and TV shows like Magnum P.I.
Home of the Blues Brothers
New York City and Los Angeles might be the most frequently used American cities for film and TV productions but Chicago has definitely been a star player on the silver screen with a slew of famous credits. Everything from The Dark Knight (2008) to The Sting (1973) to The Blues Brothers (1980) have been filmed there and you can see all of these locations and more on the Chicago Film Tour.
Stalking Sherlock Holmes
Do you consider yourself a Sherlock Holmes fan? If you are visiting London, you have some intriguing options on which Holmes tour might be your cup of tea. You can get very specific with a tour focused on the BBC's Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch or you can book a comprehensive overview tour featuring locations used for Jeremy Brett’s Holmes TV series from 1984, Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock films with Robert Downey, Jr., and Christopher Plummer’s deerstalker in the 1971 thriller, Murder By Decree.
Go Missing in Cape Girardeau
Ever since Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel, Gone Girl, became a 2014 box-office hit, fans have been flocking to where it was filmed - Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It was filmed in more than 25 scenic locations in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area and you can visit them all on a DIY driving tour with a PDF guide provided as a free download, courtesy of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Dude’s Universe
When it comes to cult movies, it is hard to underestimate the popularity of the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski (1998) which has been the inspiration for several books, a clothing line, action figures and even its own annual Lebowski Fest. But die-hard fans who can’t get enough of the film can put together their own DIY driving tour of the actual locations in L.A. from fan sites like Curbed.
Killer Shark Playground
Even before Jaws was released in 1975, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts was an exclusive, upscale beach resort but the film had a major impact on the island’s tourism and continues to lure Jaws fans yearly. If you are game for a DIY driving tour you can still visit many of the original locations used in the movie with a fan guide like this one.