‘The Walking Dead’ exploded on the cable landscape in 2010, compiling the highest ratings of any new show and garnering an Entertainment Weekly cover story. Its popularity has only grown as the series is about to wrap up its fourth season next month. What started out as a graphic novel by Robert Kirkland has become a phenomenon – spawning a series of novels, hip t-shirts, and in November of last year, the first convention dedicated solely to the show. The show films in and around the Atlanta area, drawn to the area by Georgia’s generous tax cuts for film and television production. A friend of mine’s girlfriend was coming into town for a long weekend and he said he was going to take her on a ‘Walking Dead’ tour of Atlanta. What a great idea!
From the very first episode we see trooper Rick Grimes trot down 1-75 South on his horse, the city skyline instantly recognizable to natives, and enter a starkly empty downtown Atlanta. His first encounter with the zombies on a large scale occurs on Marietta Street, which is near the Georgia Tech campus and runs by some of the city’s most well-known entertainment facilities: Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, Georgia World Congress Center. Filmed during the brutal Georgia summer, the actors all talked about how much weight they lost. In a rooftop scene where Micheal Rooker’s character, Merle, is handcuffed to a pipe, the Georgia Dome is easily visible.
The Goat Farm
An early scene has Grimes facing off with a gang hiding out in abandoned warehouse. This place is actually called the Goat Farm and yes, it is still somewhat decrepit looking, but has been turned into an artist community. The rustic look helps spur creativity (so they say). They hold a popular Halloween party there every year.
The other survivors who we follow begin the series at the Quarry. It is an actual quarry which was owned by the city. The land is now owned by a private company.
Cobb Energy Center
As the first season draws to close, our desperate band of heroes finally make it to the CDC. The location used was actually the brand new Cobb Energy Center, originally built because the Atlanta Opera realized most of their members live in the northern suburbs of Atlanta and decided to have a facility closer to its members, it now hosts an assortment of concerts and A-List comics. The real Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is only about 15 miles away and sits on the campus of Emory University.
This town about half an hour southwest of Atlanta was the setting of The Governor’s community, Woodbury, that took up most of season three. Feel free to stroll the streets of this quintessential small town and see some familiar sites. Nearby is also the setting of the Jail, used in season three and the first half of season four.
Season 5 is currently filming in the area.