Movie holidays

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movie holidays

Movie Holidays are a form of tourism where people can visit famous (and more obscure) filming locations around the world.   This may include well known studios and back lot tours, but may also include off the beaten track places.


The movie industry has made films across the globe, but there are some particularly famous locations in North America, Europe and the United Kingdom.


If you are a film enthusiast, you can expect to immerse yourself in the surroundings made famous by the movies you love.   Be prepared for some of these places to look different or even smaller than you expected.  Remember that very often film sets are at least partially manufactured to create the desired effect on screen.   However, many will seem just as you imagined them to.   You will probably come across lots of other travellers who have a similar interest on such holidays, so you’ll have plenty to talk about.


If you are travelling independently and, for example, decide to visit the Mid West of the USA to discover some of the sites of the great cowboy movies, bear in mind that in the high summer the temperatures are likely to be high, and you will probably be many miles from civilisation.   Therefore, keep in mind that if you are in a car, pack plenty of water, food, sunscreen and a hat to protect you from the fierce afternoon sun.

If you’re taking a guided tour, this is likely to be more sedate, and you’ll be given information on what you take with you.

On guided tours, or travellling independently, you might find it fun to take the mainstream trail, and go to Disneyland California or Universal Studios Los Angeles.   In each case, there’s lots of white knuckle rollercoaster rides, but also opportunities to visit genuine movie sets and back lots, where you will get running commentaries on the films and their histories.


The list of famous movie locations is almost endless, but here are a few places to start.

Regularly cropping up near the top of Best Comedy of All Time lists the exteriors for Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like It Hot  were filmed in a mere seven days at Coronado Beach near San Diego, standing in for 1920s ‘Florida’.  The ‘Miami’ hotel, where ‘Daphne’ and ‘Josephine’ (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) hide out with Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and the girl band, is the Hotel Del Coronado, 1500 Orange Avenue.

If you are a sci fi fan, then Close Encounters of the Third Kind may appeal.   Filming took place in Burbank, California; Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming; two abandoned World War II airship hangars at the former Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama; and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad depot in Bay Minette. The home where Barry was abducted is located outside the town of Fairhope, Alabama. Roy Neary’s home is at Carlisle Drive East, Mobile, Alabama. The UFOs fly through the toll booth at theVincent Thomas Bridge, San Pedro, California. The Gobi Desert sequence was photographed at the Dumont Dunes, California, and the Dharmsala-India exteriors were actually filmed at the small village of Hal near Khalapur 35 miles (56 km) outside Mumbai, India. The hangars in Alabama were six times larger than the biggest sound stage in the world. Various technical and budgetary problems occurred during filming. Spielberg called Close Encounters “twice as bad and twice as expensive [as Jaws]”.


You can take an independent trip to a movie scene for little more than the cost of an underground ticket if you live near London in the UK.   The same applies if you are near New York or Los Angeles, USA.   If you are planning a more extensive guided tour, then you should expect to pay at least £1,500 for a 10 night visit to California, staying room only in 3 star hotels, with return flights and rental car included.   There are various upgrade options, and prices vary seasonally.   You should budget extra for entrance to theme parks and other attractions.


You can expect to find lots of people with a great or passing interest in movies on such holidays.   One famous anecdote involves a group of tourists visiting the movie back lot at Universal Studios, Los Angeles.   Their bus stopped to view the set of the Psycho mansion, and from behind the scenery came comedian Jim Carey! This initially caused some alarm but quickly turned to amusement.   There are also stories of famous actors being spotted by holiday makers in favourite hotels and bars around Beverly Hills, so it pays to keep your eyes peeled!

Link to Other Things To Know (Passports, Visas, Health, Security)

You will certainly need a valid passport, possibly with several months’ validity remaining, and often a visa which could take time to be granted.    For Europe and North America, as well as much of Australasia, you should not need vaccinations, but you should carefully check security information for the area you are travelling to, particularly places with known security concerns like parts of South Asia.   A good starting point for information is UK government websites like and

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