The Walking Dead Studio Tour: A Superfan’s Dream

Inside the Alexandria-Safe Zone set. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp)
Inside the Alexandria-Safe Zone set. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp) /
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Inside the Heaps. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp)
Inside the Heaps. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp) /

The Walking Dead Studio Tour

Just outside of Downtown Senoia rests Raleigh Studios, which is the main base of operations for production on The Walking Dead. It is here that you check in and meet your tour guide, who is responsible for navigating you through nearly 150-acres of forests, sets and sound stages. The guides for this tour are top-notch and really have a deep understanding of the lore of the show, as well as the intricacies of this massive production

The tour guide drives a small bus from set to set, sometimes giving fans the opportunity to exit and get a closer look. This is true for the first stop: The Heaps. Walking through the main shipping container into the center of the junkyard is a surreal feeling. This is the same path that so many of our characters have taken to visit Jadis and her band of Scavengers. From inside, the tour guide points out many of the notable spots within, including the “Up Up Up” and the container that Rick was held in. While the location in the show is enormous, the actual size of the set is quite small, but still gigantic when you consider the amount of detail and work put into constructing this unlikely apocalypse hideaway. Photos are allowed at this location, so your next family photo can be in front of piles of trash!

The next stop is more of a minor location within the show, but still important nonetheless. It is a large lake with a houseboat floating in the middle of it. Fans will remember Rick and Aaron’s perilous trek across the walker-infested lake to reach the houseboat that contained a supply of guns, which they turned over to the Saviors. Photos are also allowed at this stop even though you do not exit the bus. There’s also a handful of walker dummies still floating in the water, which helps transport you back to that tense scene in “Hearts Still Beating.”

The houseboat lake. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp)
The houseboat lake. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp) /

After leaving the lake, the bus enters an area that feels eerily familiar. The energy dramatically shifts as the bus pulls into a clearing of gravel. This is the spot where Rick Grimes and ten of his fellow survivors were trapped and forced onto their knees before a man named Negan changed their lives forever. This is the filming location where Negan brutally killed Abraham and Glenn on that fateful night. There are even markers on the ground to denote where our two heroes said their final words. The tour guide notes that this location is hallowed grounds and will not be used for filming on the show anymore. After visiting this spot, you’ll understand why. It’s chilling.

Thankfully, the mood does lighten up as the bus exits the clearing and turns down a new path. On the horizon, a large community with a towering mansion appears. In the words of Jesus, “that’s us…that’s The Hilltop.” The bus heads up a dirt road and drives through the main gate of The Hilltop Colony. The view you see is almost exactly what viewers first saw when Rick’s crew arrived for the first time in “Knots Untie.” There are no words to adequately describe just how stunning and realistic this community is. Every things looks just as it does on the show, sans the dozens of residents who are normally seen strolling around and working. The gardens, the blacksmith station, the trailers, and the lookout posts are all there for you to marvel at. There’s also Barrington House, which looks over the community as a beacon of strength. Sadly, photos are not allowed at this location, nor are you allowed to exit the vehicle. That being said, this is by far the most incredible stop on the tour.

Another major community that you get to visit on the tour is none other than the mysterious Oceanside. Stepping through the gate of this location allows you to understand why Natania and her people were initially hesitant to allow newcomers and to also join the war efforts. Shrouded by trees and overgrown plant-life, the cabins of Oceanside are hidden from the outside world just as they are on the show. You actually get to walk past the dozen or so cabins that the women of Oceanside reside in, including the home of Cyndie’s family where Tara was treated to fish stew after discovering the group in “Swear.” Photos are not allowed at this location either, but perhaps that is just to assure that Oceanside stays hidden from the world just as the community wishes.

The clearing area from Negan’s lineup. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp)
The clearing area from Negan’s lineup. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp) /

The tour bus circles back to the main studio buildings for the final stop on the studio property. Taking a route that fans might recognize, the guide will point out that this area is where the Prison set once stood. That area is now being used for the exterior of The Sanctuary’s set. The bus drives through the main yard in front of the factory, allowing guests to be transported back to important moments in the series that involved the Savior headquarters. You can view the platform from which Negan declared war in the Season 7 finale, and later stood as Rick and members from the three communities launched their first attack against the Saviors in “Mercy.” Photos aren’t allowed at this location, nor do you exit the bus to walk around.

The final stop on the tour is a special one. It isn’t on the same studio property, meaning that the bus drives to Downtown Senoia before entering through a familiar gate. Yes…you actually get to go inside the walls of the Alexandria Safe-Zone, our primary home since Season 5. The bus will drive you past several important locations within the community, including the lake, Rick’s original home, the Anderson household, the infirmary, and so much more. What’s even cooler is that you actually get to exit the bus, walk around, and take photos in a small area next to the church in the part of the community that was expanded after the events of “No Way Out.” Alexandria has grown and changed so much, but it still feels like the charming neighborhood that we first entered all those years ago. Being in the location of so many iconic speeches, battles, and deaths is the perfect way to cap off this dreamlike tour.