From theme parks to historic homes, see what captured filmmakers' attention in this south Georgia town.
Located in south Georgia, Valdosta first developed around the railroad. Today, the college town retains many of its historic buildings and has fostered the careers of actors that went on to become Hollywood legends. Valdosta was used in some of the earliest films made in Georgia, and some of their locations are still available for visits today.
This independent theme park has welcomed visitors since 1996. Equal parts zoo and thrill ride park, Wild Adventures hosts large concerts and events and boasts more than 170 acres. It even has a water park to help you cool off from the summer heat. The family hotspot has one of the South’s largest ride collections. Indie hit "Zombieland" filmed throughout the state, including Atlanta, Hapeville, Newnan and Powder Springs. But, the most iconic scenes were at a zombie-infested theme park, played by the Valdosta attraction. A number of the rides were seen in the film.
One of the finest homes in Valdosta, the Converse-Dalton House was built in 1902 for Thomas Briggs Converse Sr. and his family. Now restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house is one of several in the historic district designed by architect Stephen F. Fulgham. It’s available as a space for small events. The home was seen in the television movie "As Summers Die," starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Scott Glenn and Bette Davis. Pick up a historic driving tour map at the Valdosta/Lowndes Convention & Visitors Bureau for a self-guided tour of more historic homes in Valdosta.
As the most iconic building in Valdosta, The Crescent was built in 1898 for a U.S. senator. The circular veranda with 13 columns represents the original American colonies. It was saved from the wrecking ball in 1951 and is now managed by the local garden club, which maintains the test gardens. "As Summers Die" also filmed here.
The Mathis Municipal Auditorium is the major performance space in Valdosta with a large auditorium and 5,000-square-foot multi-purpose room. In the independent flick "Grandma's Blessings," a local talk show host nabs the interview of a lifetime but fails when he nervously takes sedatives beforehand. After he loses his job, he goes to pay his final respects to his grandmother but ends up taking a cross-country road trip. The film used the auditorium in production and was produced by locals.
The HBO film "As Summers Die" also used the iconic Brooks County Courthouse for its courtroom scenes when Scott Glenn's character is trying to protect a woman's land. It's one of the few original courthouses in the area and was constructed with bricks made locally in Quitman of Brooks County clay. Brooks County is west of Valdosta (Lowndes County).
East of Valdosta, the large blackwater swamp that straddles the Georgia and Florida state lines is rightfully one of the state's natural wonders. It gets its name from a Native language meaning “bubbling water.” This area is rich in wildlife, especially the American alligator. Stephen C. Foster State Park is just one of the access points where visitors can go kayaking and get up close with nature. The swamp has also been caught on film, starting with 1941's "Swamp Water" and followed by 1952 remake "Lure of the Wilderness." Burt Reynolds starred in "Gator," the follow up to "White Lightning," as an ex-con living in the swamp with his father and daughter when federal agents coerce him into helping them.