If you watch a show like The Walking Dead, you can probably guess that all of those zombie-infested neighborhoods exist in the real world (minus the zombies). After all, no TV show has the budget to build entire towns from scratch. What you probably didn't realize is that inside the homes which line the corpse-strewn streets of the post-apocalypse are people, who live in those homes. They leave for work every day and carefully avoid the fake carnage that has been set in place by the crew, and they have to stay out of the way during filming.
We spoke to a resident of the sleepy town of Senoia, Georgia, which is where The Walking Dead has done much of its filming since the third season. She told us ...
6A Distance Of Hundreds Of Miles On TV Is Only A Few Blocks In Real Life
Even if you're a Walking Dead novice, you know the show is about a group of survivors wandering a zombie apocalypse. Specifically, they start in Georgia, where they went to battle with the evil "Governor" of the town of Woodbury, and progressed up the East Coast for hundreds of miles until they arrived in Alexandria, Virginia, which is where the show is currently set as of the writing of this article.
"My home was right in between 'Woodbury' and 'Alexandria,'" Brittany says. Well, that's not saying much, is it? There are a whole lot of points between Georgia and Virginia. But stay with us here: Woodbury, Georgia is a real town, but on the show, Senoia stands in for Woodbury. It also stands in for Alexandria. Confused yet? You're not alone. "Even fans who know that 'Alexandria' is located in Georgia don't realize that it is actually the next street down from Woodbury," Brittany says. Here, this might help:
In reality, "Woodbury" -- a hop and a skip from West Central Prison, where the gang fought off Woodbury invaders -- is about 20 miles further from the prison than it is from "Alexandria." In other words, in one of a long line of moronic decisions made by the characters, they spend two seasons walking in the woods when they could have merely crossed the street. You can literally see the wall of Alexandria from Woodbury:
Just because society has crumbled doesn't mean you can simply ignore a "Do Not Enter" sign.
That's Brittany's view standing at the end of Main Street, the part of town that doubled as Woodbury. It is in fact the town's primary shopping district, which caused some confusion for a while. "When Woodbury was constructed for season three, they didn't move that barrier and the faux stores added to Main Street until filming was done," Brittany says. "That was amusing, because people (tourists and residents alike) tried to walk into the faux buildings to check out the new additions to Senoia." Thankfully, they've spruced it back up since then:
Like a reverse Detroit.
The neighborhood looks rather nice once you hose it down and take the old used tires off its face. By the light of day, with all its buildings restored, it's downright welcoming.
Brittany, AMC Studios
Brittany, AMC Studios
It also helps when you aren't shooting with all the camera's settings set to "Fallout 3."
On the other hand, there are now a few permanent fixtures that Senoia residents are almost positive weren't there before, like the Waking Dead cafe:
The Waking Dead Cafe
"Get a cup of joe while eating Joe."
That's because ...
5Suddenly, Everything Is Zombies
While the town's overnight designation as a zombie tourist hot spot has its downsides (and we'll get to those in a moment), it has boosted the hell out of their economy. "The Main Street area had something like five stores before the show came to town, and now it has almost 50," Brittany says. Some of those shops unabashedly target the Deadhead demographic, like The Woodbury Shoppe and the adjoining Waking Dead Cafe and Senoia on the Big Screen Walking Tours. "Last I heard, the woman who runs the tours was opening up a side business designing zombie-themed weddings," Brittany says.
But although The Woodbury Shoppe is the only local retailer licensed to sell official Walking Dead merchandise, even the normal stores are doing their damnedest to cash in on the zombie craze, no matter how little sense it makes. As a result, "according to the labels, I now own 'zombie milk,' 'zombie butter,' and 'zombie eggs.'"
"I don't recommend the zombie jerky," says Brittany.
"There aren't any major retailers in town (Dollar General is pretty much it)," and even that only opened recently and sits on the edge of town, "so the little local shops down Main Street are where residents go when they just need a couple of things," Brittany explains. Your choices are basically to go way out of your way and spend time and gas money you don't have, or to learn to love zombie dark roast. That's not a joke: "Zombie Dark was one of the coffees at the only decent coffee shop within biking distance (the only other option was our gas station coffee, which is awful)," Brittany says. "It was always fresh and in stock because of its demand, so it was what was in the house most often."
"It's pretty good."
"Around town, you can also get zombie soap, zombie cookies, cake pops that look like zombie eyeballs, a 'zombie white mocha,' beverages made to look like blood, and TWD chocolate pudding (Carl, a kid in the show, goes on a chocolate pudding binge, and that became a silly little joke that fans took to)," Brittany says. "I've never purchased the chocolate pudding, but I had a friend look in my refrigerator at my boring generic pudding and ask if it was TWD merchandise. Easily mistaken."
So it's all good clean fun and fanboy money, right? Yeah, not so much ...