Senoia becomes Woodbury for The Walking Dead

7:17 PM, Jul 19, 2012   |    comments
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SENOIA, Ga. -- Be careful which storefronts you try to walk through if you visit Senoia, because some of them only have walls behind them. The fake bookstore, bank, law office and travel agency are all part of the fictional town of Woodbury, Georgia. It's the setting of a zombie show called "The Walking Dead," which is slowly taking over Senoia, Georgia. The downtown storefronts are right up against each other, and they're pretty convincing. 

"I tried to go into 'Crabapple Books' thinking we had a new book store in town, but that obviously wasn't the case," said community radio host Uncle Rich.

In the third season of the AMC show, which resumes in October, Woodbury is a lone safe zone in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

In real life, the main street has to be shut down when filming starts. The city even stopped mowing the grass for the film company.  Several business owners downtown said they don't mind, because there are production staffers on hand to direct tourists and crew to the business' back doors.

"We're doing quite well, we're busy," said Lynn Long of the Main Street Fudge Shop, where they have zombie fudge on display. "We have a lot of the extras coming in, and people that are our watching the filming."

Fans flow into town whenever filing is underway. Sometimes even when it isn't, like on Thursday, when Peachtree City resident Michael Brown came to take a look. He's cruising the web, looking for a shot at being an extra in a shoot.

"I've been a fan of the genre forever, I've got a bunch of friends that watch the show, and the fact that I'm actually right here where they're filming it, I would get a rush out of being a part of it," Brown said.

Scott Tigchelaar is an owner of Raleigh Studios Atlanta, a production lot near Senoia where the show is based. He said the small town has been groomed over the decades to be the perfect place for film and TV shoots.

"Senoia's had so many different projects over the years, they've learned to adopt the different identities the shows bring to town," Tigchelaar said.

Apparently it's fueled quite the resurgence in the downtown area.

"In 2006 there were 7 businesses on Main Street, today there are 47 businesses," Tigchelaar said. "It's made a pretty significant difference at a time when people are suffering through one of the worst economic periods anyone can remember."

He pointed to the fact that it was hard to find a parking space in the downtown area, something that apparently was rarely a problem in years past. The studios even built two multi story buildings as antique-looking anchors at the center of town.

Apparently it's paid off. A tour bus from Augusta was loading its passengers back up Thursday afternoon.

"It looks like a storybook town," said tourist Francis Wagner. "I enjoyed the shops, the food, everything was lovely, and I will come back again to visit."

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