Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com Colin Cary, host of the Atlanta Movie Tours "Upside Down" tour at Hopper's home
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com Colin Cary, host of the Atlanta Movie Tours "Upside Down" tour at Hopper's home

New ‘Stranger Things’ tour covers Jim Hopper’s trailer home, arcade, pool

Originally posted Thursday, August 15, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Colin Cary has a passing resemblance to David Harbour’s gruff and often humorous character Jim Hopper on Netflix’s hugely popular “Stranger Things.” 

So it’s apropos that he wore Hopper’s Hawkins, Ind. police chief garb as chief tour guide of the new three-plus hour “Upside Down” tour that Atlanta Movie Tours starts August 16 for $75 per person. (Buy tickets here.)

“Hopper is based on my favorite character of all time Indiana Jones,” said Cary, who also does extra work and shows up a couple of times in the background of scenes on “Stranger Things. “Ya gotta love a hero character that is not perfect, a guy who makes mistakes and yet still manages to pull things off.” 

Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Colin Cary channels his inner Hopper before the Atlanta Movie Tours "Upside Down" media tour 8/14/19.

The tour is filling a need for fans wanting to see places featured  on the show, which returned for its third season last month. Netflix said it was their biggest how launch ever, with 12.8 million people watching the entire season within the first four days, 21 percent more than season two, according to Nielsen analysis. 

Since “Stranger Things” was shot all over metro Atlanta, time restrictions and traffic restricted Atlanta Movie Tours to just a portion of possible locations in those in East Point, Lithia Springs, Powder Springs and Douglasville. It would have been logistically impossible to visit, say, the building masquerading as Hawkins lab off Briarcliff Road or Gwinnett Place Mall (AKA Starcourt Mall) in Duluth. 

Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Atlanta Movie Tours guide Colin Cary pulls up to Benny’s Burgers in season one where Eleven ends up eating fries for the first time, syncing a clip from the show.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Tiffany's Kitchen in Lithia Springs played Benny’s Burgers from season one of "Stranger Things."

During a media version of the tour earlier this month, Cary readily admitted he likes to talk, a necessary skill given the gaps between some of the stops. He parses out self-deprecating jokes about his career as an extra, trivia about the show and casual references to movies shot at particular locations. He syncs clips from “Stranger Things” to what fans are looking at outside the window. 

Here are a few highlights from the tour itself:

Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. A tunnel Kali drove through in a chase season from season 2, episode 7 in Atlanta.

- Atlanta = Chicago. In season two, Eleven meets up with another test subject Kali and the tour features many of the scenes from that episode, including the homeless encampment set in the Gulch and roads where cops chase Kali. 

Photo: From the show. 
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Emma Loggins of FanBolt in front of the fictional Merrill's Farm sign.

- Hopper’s home doubles an escape room. Sleepy Hollow Farm in Douglasville, a working farm, is home to Merrill’s Farm where pumpkins prematurely rotted season two. It is also where “Stranger Things” prop builders created Hopper’s ramshackle home, tin roof rusted. Cary said they literally beat up the wood to prematurely age it. The home now looks exactly as it does on the show, but the farm now uses the interior as an escape room adventure so those on the tour can’t venture inside. (The show’s interior was actually shot at EUE Screen Gems studios.)

Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com . The Hawkins police station under renovation in Douglasville.
Photo: From the show and that’s the tour guide Colin Cary  as an extra walking toward the door. 

- The Hawkins police station is unrecognizable. The building on the square in Douglasville - once a city hall - is being renovated inside and out. 

Photo: From the show.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. The only real sign "Stranger Things" was here.
Photo: RODNEYHO/rho@ajc.com. The spot where the big arcade sign was.
Photo: From the show. 

The arcade and video store are now largely empty. The Douglasville building that occupied season two’s 1980’s-era arcade and season three’s video rental store are for sale and the big “Arcade” sign is no longer around. All that’s left is the “Family Video Store” insignia on the door and the cheesy rainbow color scheme. 

Photo: CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. The Hawkins community pool is South Bend pool in East Point.
Photo: From the show

Pool season is already over. So the South Bend pool in East Point featured as the Hawkins public pool season three was devoid of lounge chairs and people although it was close to 100 degrees the day the media tour was happening. 

Get your vocals ready. There’s a karaoke sing a long at the end o teh tour and anyone who saw season three will know which song it is. (And no, it’s not Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender,” sung with much gusto by Finn Wolfhard’s character Mike to Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven.)

- No personal homes. The Atlanta Movie Tours organizers say they don’t stop in front of the exteriors of homes represented on the show, not wanting to intrude on the homeowners, especially with a big bus. If you do want to see many of those homes in person, Dan Tanner of DTours holds guided private tours for $150 per person. He promises to drive people by the homes that represent the Wheelers, Sinclairs and Hendersons  in East Point as well the buildings that represent Hawkins Middle School and Hawkins High School in Stockbridge. 

IF YOU GO FOR GUIDED BUS TOUR

“The Upside Down Tour”

3.5 hours, mostly Fridays and Saturdays at 9 a.m.

$75 per person

Includes stops in Atlanta, Lithia Springs, Powder Springs, Douglasville and East Point

Atlanta Movie Tours

327 Nelson St. SW, Atlanta GA

www.atlantamovietours.com

FOR PRIVATE GUIDED TOURS

“The Upside Down Stranger Things Film Locations Tour”

4 hours, at times convenient to you

$150 per person

Includes stops in Atlanta, East Point, Jackson and Stockbridge

www.dtour.me

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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