By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Monday, March 28, 2016
SENOIA - You don't get to see real live zombies per se, but the three-hour Atlanta Movie Tour Senoia tour does give you a flavor of the world Rick Grimes & Co. live in on AMC's 'The Walking Dead."
Dubbed the Big Zombie Tour 2, it's the second "Walking Dead"-related tour the group created. The first one, set in Atlanta itself, covers season one and parts of season five. And a third zombie tour is forthcoming in May. (More details below.)
This current tour covers the area where "The Walking Dead" is primarily shot. (I took that tour in 2014 for an AJC promotion which featured Iron E. Singleton, who played T-Dog seasons one through three.)
The show's home base is Senoia's Raleigh Studios, which was home to the prison scenes seasons three and four. That studio is private property so the bus does not go over there and private citizens can't just stroll in. But given that location, the producers and writers and location scouts try to find areas within 50 miles or so from Senoia to shoot.
Except for me and my wife, every single person on the sold-out bus the day we were there was from out of state. Carrie Sagel Burns, who helped started the organization in 2012, said 90 percent of its clients are not from Georgia.
Downtown Senoia, which masqueraded as Woodbury seasons three and four, is where this tour starts.
Over three hours, the bus drove us through smaller cities such as Grantville, Sharpsburg, Newnan and Haralson. There are video screens so as you drive by a particular site, you can see actual clips of the show from that location.
Our particular emcee Kent Wagner has been a walker and had a brief moment as a live human in Grady Hospital season five. He was amiable and packed with information. He showed us key spots such as the roof where Carl ate his pudding season three and the bar where Rick and Hershel hung out season two before trouble strolled in. He walked us through the various levels of "walkers" and provided tips on how to get through "zombie school" to qualify as an extra.
He also talked about people trying to find out to find spoilers, especially inside Alexandria. The fenced-in neighborhood features people who live there but must sign non-disclosure agreements like the crew. He said spies have tried to fly drones over Alexandria to get intel. Cops are now allowed to shoot said drones down. They have knocked down two, he said.
Grantville was infamous for the scene with an unhinged Morgan season 3 meeting with Michonne, Rick and Carl. The second floor where he lived remains a sanctuary for "Walking Dead" memorabilia and the tour allowed us to take photos there.
Also, check out Senoia's Walking Dead memorabilia store, which includes everything from a Michonne prop kitana to a Daryl cross bow. And cutesy shirts like this:
Burns said they are prepping a third tour which will cover more stops from "The Walking Dead," mostly further east of Senoia in Haralson and Griffin. You'll get to see where Glenn almost died by the dumpster season six and she expects to highlight spots from this Sunday's season finale.
She knows months in advance where they shot but isn't sure what they'll use until the show airs.
The tours are set up so out-of-town tourists can take the Atlanta tour in the morning, take a $30 roundtrip bus ride to Senoia and then take another three-hour tour there for a full "Walking Dead" experience. But even if you live in town and love the show, both tours are well worth the effort.