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Movie Inspired Vacations

The appeal of movies, like other forms of entertainment, lies in its ability to transport us to worlds far away from our own. Vacations, on the other hand, are a more literal form of escapism. If you’re trying to figure out where to go for your next trip, consider one of these locations that are known for being the setting of some famous films.

London, England

For Harry Potter fans, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is a must see. Warner Bros. Studio Leavesden was the production home for the Harry Potter film series for over ten years. This past summer, Warner Bros. opened the studio to the public, allowing fans to visit the studios and view sets, costumes, and props from the films.

The three-hour tour begins in the famed Hogwarts Great Hall, the 4,800-sq ft. room that was featured heavily in the films, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone back in 2001. Uniforms from each Hogwarts house and the professors’ outfits are on display in the hall. Visitors see other noteworthy Hogwarts sets including Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, the boys’ dormitory as well as the Potions classroom.

Aside from Hogwarts, tour participants get to step onto Diagon Alley and see famous storefronts such as Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Ollivanders Wand Shop, and Gringotts Wizarding Bank. In addition to sets, the tour showcases props from the films and takes visitors through the makeup studio where they can see the different prosthetics that were applied to actors.


Matamata, New Zealand

Peter Jackson famously filmed the entirety of his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies in his home country of New Zealand, and visitors can actually take a Hobbiton Movie Set tour and visit the shire. One of the most recognizable locations in Middle Earth, the shire was home to Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, the protagonists of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit respectively.

Hobbiton Movie Set is located on a 1250 acre sheep farm and features many iconic landmarks from the films. The Green Dragon, an inn visited by prominent series’ characters, is fully operational and a stop on the tour. Bag End, Bilbo’s hobbit hole, which isn’t open to the public; and the Party Tree, a huge tree under which Bilbo made his farewell speech are also also featured.

There are 44 hobbit holes on the property, and the holes have decorative accents like clotheslines and miniaturized lawn furniture. However, visitors can only enter one hole, which only has a bare wood interior. The tour lasts for 105 minutes and ends with refreshments at the Green Dragon.


Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws is a seminal work of American film. Released in June 1975, the film was the first summer blockbuster and is one of the highest grossing films of all time. Jaws takes place in a quaint New England seaside town called Amity Island, but in reality, the movie was shot on Martha’s Vineyard.

Edgartown is the Martha’s Vineyard town where Jaws took place and hasn’t changed much since filming. Fans may recognize featured spots such as Quint’s dock. The town, which lacks chains and fast food restaurants, still feels the same as it did nearly forty years ago.

According to Reuters, before Jaws was released, the summer population of Martha’s Vineyard was around 5,000 people. After the film, that number grew to 15,000. Now, Martha’s Vineyard gets around 75,000 summer visitors, a number which can swell to 130,000 during its busiest time.

This post was co-authored by my colleague, Joshua John: Joshua is the Digital Strategist at MBA@UNC, the online MBA program at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, and MPA@UNC, the MPA program online at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government. Follow him on Twitter at @joshuavjohn.

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