When my husband first started watching The Walking Dead several years ago, I was a bit skeptical and not all that impressed about a far-fetched show concept involving zombies. But as the series played in the background from time to time, I couldn’t help but get lured in by the plot lines and action. Before I knew it, I was just as hooked on the show as my husband and it became a Sunday night staple for us. That’s why when we had the opportunity to visit some of the filming locations in Central Georgia, it was a dream come true.
The first place we hit up on our tour was the main town called Senoia, GA. This is the central area where the cast and production crew actually film the show. The small town of Senoia serves as the town called “Woodbury” in the 3rd season, where the character known as “the Governor” runs the little town of survivors. This is where we meet the character Michonne, who develops a friendship with Andrea, one of the original characters from Season 1. The town also served as the backdrop in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, so it was pretty awesome to walk in the same footsteps as Reese Witherspoon, as well as the cast from The Walking Dead.
On our initial visit to Senoia, we arrived hungry and immediately went on the hunt for food. There are a few quaint little restaurants and shops in the town, which have seen much growth, thanks to the growing popularity of tourism in the area due to the show. A couple of fun restaurants and shops of note include Maguire’s, a fun corner Irish Pub where we ate lunch and Senoia Coffee and Cafe , a neat coffee shop often frequented by the cast and crew when filming nearby with fun show paraphernalia lining the walls. But, one dream in particular came true for me when we got to eat dinner at Nic and Norman’s, the restaurant owned by Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Greg Nicotero (primary director and special effects makeup supervisor). These two frequent their restaurant often, so I was hoping for a special lucky celebrity glimpse as we sat down for our meal. To my disappointment, there was no sign of either. However, I discovered from their Instagram page that Norman Reedus visited the very next evening after we left. Imagine my irritation and dismay at how close I had come to stalking….err…..seeing him! 😉
Senoia is also home to “Alexandria,” the fictitional community where many of the characters settle around Season 5. I was surprised to find out that the set of Alexandria is actually a real-life gated community with actual residents and that the cast uses this neighborhood during filming season. The community is surrounded by the famous steel fence as seen on the show from all sides. You can get close to some of the gates for picture opportunities, but access to the front gate and community is restricted. The front gate is even patrolled by security guards to discourage trespassers and tourists. (I may or may not have gotten in a little trouble for inching too close to the main entrance. I just couldn’t help myself! I was so excited to be standing at the gates of Alexandria, ha, ha!)
We also enjoyed a little exploration on the outskirts of the town where some of the surrounding older homes and railroad tracks are located. Several of these homes and tracks were featured in the show including the famous blue “pudding house” seen in the pictures below where Carl sits on the roof and nibbles on an entire can of chocolate pudding. Just a little further out from the area is Hershel’s farm (at Elders Millpond) and the prison (which is actually the site of Raleigh Studios Atlanta) but you can’t really visit them up close, since access to these sites are prohibited. Therefore, we never did get pictures to include.
The Walking Dead Museum
In the heart of downtown Senoia, you will find the Walking Dead Museum, which is located in the basement of the Woodbury Shoppe. Upon entering, you will first come through the gift shop on the first floor. The shop is filled with all kinds of fun TWD merchandise. From t-shirts to bobble heads to posters, this shop has it all for the die-hard fans. I couldn’t help but try out the replica of Michonne’s sword and, of course, I couldn’t resist a coffee cup with the words “Mrs. Daryl Dixon.” (Hee, hee.) When we visited on this trip, my husband and I had a little wager on whether Glenn was still going to make it out from behind the dumpster of swarming zombies. The show left us with that cliffhanger, if I recall correctly, but I eventually won the bet and Glenn managed to survive by hiding under the dumpster. I had to make sure to really rub it in with my husband when we encountered the Glenn pop-up in the shop;-)
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Downstairs in the basement is where the museum actually resides. As you walk through this area, you will see many of the props and sets used on the actual show. Some examples include Daryl’s motorcycle, the jail cells from when the characters were inhabiting the prison and the coolest of all, the doors from the opening show episode where Rick wakes up from his coma in the hospital to find the world turned upside down!
You can also find signed autographs and scripts in several places from the cast and crew of the show, as seen below. (Of course, I had to take a picture of Norman Reedus’ autograph, ha, ha!)
One of the coolest experiences as a The Walking Dead fan is visiting the Esco Feed Mill where many of the fight scenes took place in Season 3, featuring the Governor, Merle, Daryl and other characters in the show. The mill is located in the small town of Haralson, GA, about 5 miles south of Senoia. When I say “small town,” folks, I mean small. Don’t blink or you might miss it. In fact, when our son had a slight wardrobe mishap while visiting, we went on the hunt for a store to buy him a new outfit. The only option for miles around was a Dollar General Store. And, it was the most happening place in town, lol. Driving around, you will definitely feel like you are on the back country Georgia roads of the set, for sure. That’s because many of these roads are, indeed, featured in the show. In fact, there was even an empty lot located near the Dollar General with a The Walking Dead sign propped up in the yard as they let the weeds and grass grow for the abandoned overgrown apocalypse look. The lot was being prepared for an upcoming filming location. We never did figure out which scene included the lot after the fact.
When you approach the Esco Feed Mill, you will come to a small gift shop that adjoins the lot. This is where you can purchase show souvenirs and paraphernalia, as well as to purchase tickets for the filming scene tour. You can find the Facebook page here for ticket and tour information. There are different ticket options for the tour, including the ability to cosplay certain characters. We opted for the basic package, which included the tour of the history and filming locations, as well as getting to pick out a replica weapon of choice from the show to pose for family pictures and extra zombie “bite” makeup for the kids. Once again, I just had to choose Michonne’s sword. My husband was pretty stoked to pick Negan’s bat “Lucille”, lol! Our daughter also picked a baseball bat and our son picked a nerf gun, probably one of the safer options for him;-)
On to the tour itself, our tour guides (one who cosplayed as Daryl for us, which was a hoot) steered us to the small row of abandoned looking shops and office buildings nearby the mill. These shops were all used in the show. If you recall the scenes where Michonne and Andrea were camping out in several small town buildings before stumbling upon “Woodbury,” these were the primary buildings used in the filming.
As soon as we got home from our trip, I couldn’t wait to go back and find all the scenes where we had visited the locations. A fun little project I put together was to compare clips from the show to our own pictures. For example, a building featured along this strip by the mill is in one of the shots from the opening credits of the show. Below you can see the show’s clip on top and my picture on the bottom (I thought it was pretty cool that the flag was included in both shots).
Similarly, you can see a close up of the doors on the building where Michonne enters with supplies in one of the early episodes in Season 3. Below you can see a clip from the show in the top picture and our shot on the bottom.
After we saw the shops/buildings, we moved on to the actual Esco Feed Mill, where our tour guides escorted us around the grounds. Some of the chases and fight scenes in Season 3 involving the Governor occurred around this lot and it was exciting to stand in the same spots where the filming took place. It was interesting to learn how some of the background scenes were edited to look different than how they appear in person. For example, they merged some landscapes together to make it look like all one flowing backdrop.
On the interior part of the mill, located between a couple of silos was a pretty significant filming spot for several scenes. There is one scene where Andrea takes out a zombie, leaving some blood behind along the silo. The tour guides paused at this spot to allow us some candid photo opportunities, while reanacting the scene. Yes, our son had to get in on the action, lol. I know what you’re thinking…isn’t this tour a little violent for a little kid to accompany you? If you know our kid, I can reassure you he was all about finding some zombies, lol. If you are traveling with little kids, it really isn’t too scary along the tour. You are mostly witnessing the filming sites. If your children scare easily and might be nervous, the worst parts are mostly just hearing about some of the violent scenes in the show. Our son really didn’t listen and pay much attention, however. I would recommend using your own discretion on how you think your child might respond.
Again, one of my fun projects where I compared our photos to clips in the show included one of my favorite pictures. Featured on the top is where Andrea fights the zombie. On the bottom is where my husband and I acted out this scene in the same filming spot (just a little further around the ladder there), only I was the zombie and my husband used Negan’s baseball bat, lol.
I took a similar shot between another silo where you see Rick and Daryl on the hunt for the Governor in the top picture. On the bottom is the rest of us tourists walking through the same area. You can also see the same railroad tracks in the background.
There is also a barn on the property near the mill where important scenes from Season 3 were shot, as well. When Rick arrives to discuss business with the Governor, these scenes are shot inside this barn. At the time we visited, it looked a little different on the inside where they didn’t have the added platform used in the show. But, we were able to identify the hook where Rick hung his gun and the spot where Rick and the Governor squared off at the table together.
At this point in the tour, they gave us each the opportunity for some fun family photo shoots. My husband and I enjoyed a little fun with the unloaded pistols right below the spot where the actors sat! The top picture in the photo below shows Rick and the Governor sitting at the table. The bottom picture is of my husband and I squaring off, as well. Marriage goals, lol!
There was also a scene where Rick was running around the side of the barn in the show. I had to include this shot (seen in the top photo below) along with my own picture of us tourists exploring the same path (which I’m pretty sure is where we acquired our poison ivy…yikes.)
Towards the end of our tour, we came around to the edge of the property where one of the saddest scenes in the show played out. This was a hard episode, watching Daryl cry when he finds his brother Merle turned into a zombie. We did first get to tour inside the mill where some of the final fight scenes played out between Merle and the Governor. Of course, I had to get a picture of the spot where the Governor bites off Merle’s fingers and spits them out into the cotton gin just before the famous “I ain’t gonna beg” scene. But, even more so, I had to document the filming spots where Daryl finds Merle (as re-enacted below by our tour guide cosplaying as Daryl with his sad cry face, lol).
In the photo below, you can see the clip from the show where Daryl has to put down his zombie brother (in the bottom photo) compared to my picture on the top with the barn/shed building in the background.
A few extra scenes included below, as well, include the famous meme floating around Facebook and other social media sites where Daryl holds the lighter by the water tank. Also, a clip from the show where some of the hunt scenes take place outside one of the buildings on the property. You can see the clip from the show on the left and our picture with my daughter and our tour guide “Daryl” on the right.
At the end of the tour, our tour guides offered to do a fun makeup session with the kids where it appeared they had gotten bitten by a zombie. It definitely looked like a pretty disgusting wound filled with a puss-like substance, lol. We didn’t wash the makeup off for a while and went out in public with the kids and their “zombie bites”. You can only imagine the strange looks we recieved. One lady even asked if our son was okay or did he need a bandage, ha, ha.
My favorite picture of all from the tour was of the whole family standing in front of the Esco Feed Mill with our choice of weapons, hanging out with our “Daryl” cosplayer. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. We told everyone we had our Christmas cards ready that year! As you can see in the photo below, the Feed Mill is featured in the opening credits of the show in the top picture compared to our family picture on the bottom.
The Walking Dead tour ranks up there as one of my top favorite visits we’ve ever done. Truly a memorable experience that I’m glad even our kids enjoyed along with us even though they never watched the show. If you are a fan of the show yourself or ever watched it, I highly recommend paying a visit to the Senoia area. There are several other sites and filming spots you can find near the Atlanta area, as well. We’ve decided to continue our tour next time we’re near there.