Stranger Things Season 3 Surpasses Second Season, Lives Up to First

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By the time the fireworks started popping on July 4th, most of you Strangers had finished bingeing Stranger Things season 3. My plan had been to hop right on here and write up my own review and have it in the queue to publish in the morning. 

What I wasn’t expecting was to be emotionally drained when the credits rolled. Each season of Stranger Things has left me bouncing off the walls, giddy as all get out and ready to rush into tons of discussion. This season left me “needing a moment” to get my thoughts together. 

So before I jump off into spoilers, I’ll give you this quick spoiler-free nugget: Stranger Things Season 3 is a triumph of storytelling. It’s on-par with the first season and, in some ways, surpasses the perfection of season one in its scope and themes. 

Now, if you haven’t watched Stranger Things Season 3, you might want to stop here and go watch it, because beyond here, there be spoilers, matey. 

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Halloween Horror Nights 29 (2019) Orlando Updates

Believe it or not, it’s only a little more than 3 months before Halloween Horror Nights opens its doors to the public at Universal Orlando. As of this writing, there have been three houses announced and, as it’s been about a month since the last house was announced, it seems like we should be due for another announcement any moment now. Here’s what we know so far and what the rumor mill has been churning out as we wait for more details.

Stranger Things Is Back

Most people assumed this would be the case with the HHN 28 house being so popular that it was opened for a last hurrah daylight hours tour to the general public. Personally, I loved last year’s house, getting a good run by doing Stay and Scream and hitting the house as it first opened. The Demogorgons were on point, jumping out and opening their maw right in my face as I passed through the house. The set design was also top notch, making you feel as if you had genuinely stepped into Hawkins, Indiana in 1984. 

The artwork and marketing copy for HHN 29’s house promises this house will follow the storyline of season two, so look for Demodogs, the Mind Flayer and more scenes in Hawkins Laboratory this time around. Prediction: We’ll get a scene that has us walk through the old school bus on the bone yard with a puppeteered Demodog trying to grab us through the roof of the bus. 

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Stranger Things Filming Locations Tour

Recently, I was able to take a trip down to the Atlanta metro area and check out some of the filming locations for the hit Netflix series (and one of my favorites), Stranger Things. I haven’t had many opportunities to visit the locations of shows or movies that I love, so it was a surreal experience. Let me show you around.

I’m a pretty meticulous travel planner. I suffer from anxiety and traveling can sometimes trigger it. One thing I’ve found that makes it much easier to deal with is just planning the crap out of my trip. That’s what I did here and it worked out splendidly. Given our route in, it made the most sense to make our first stop Hawkin’s Police Station.

Hawkin’s Police Station Location
8499 Courthouse Square West
Douglasville, GA 30134

Hawkins police station location

I’m honestly not sure what the actual purpose of this building is when it’s not being used as a filming location. I’ve since learned that it was also used in Stan Vs. Evil, which I had started a good while before taking the trip, but never finished.

The building itself is directly across from a busy church, so keep that in mind when you go. You may want to avoid Sundays when visiting this location.

palace arcade from stranger things

Palace Arcade Location
6501 Church St.
Douglasville, GA 30134

If you’re planning on taking the tour in the same order that I did, be aware that the arcade isn’t far from the “police station” location. The police station location is just off Church Street, so once you’ve finished visiting the police station, you can get right back onto Church (take a left from Courthouse Square West back onto Church) and you’ll eventually run into the arcade on the left.

As of 10/06/2018, the exterior facade was still mostly intact on the arcade, save for the signage. Looking through the window, I could see the interior matched as well, though it had been gutted and was a bit messy. If you stand near the arcade door and look to your slight left, you’ll see the same view Will sees when he steps outside the arcade (sans Mindflayer).

palace arcade interior
Apologies for the glare and reflection. It wasn’t easy to get the shot.

Tiffany’s Kitchen aka Benny’s Burgers
7413 Lee Rd
Lithia Springs, GA

benny's burgers aka tiffany's kitchen

By far, this was the highlight of my tour. Tiffany’s Kitchen, the location of Benny’s Burgers, is a working restaurant that’s open to the public 7 days a week. While there have been some changes to the interior since Season One was filmed, you’ll find that there’s still a lot of similarities to Benny’s.

interior of benny's burgers

I sat right at the table pictured in the right corner of this photo. Technically, the chairs were not the same, but it did not spoil the surrealness of the moment. It actually felt as if I were sitting in the world of one of my favorite TV shows and, I’m sure some will think me a total nerd for saying it, but it was absolutely amazing for me.

benny's burgers kitchen
The walls are different, but it still looks very much the same. No Eleven stealing burgers, but you can’t have everything.

As far as the food, Tiffany’s features pretty standard greasy spoon diner fare along with a surprisingly large selection of desserts. I typically don’t eat beef, but I had to make an exception and order what I have termed an “Eleven Special.” It’s not listed that way on the menu, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

burger at benny's burgers

For a cheap burger and fries? It was pretty darn tasty. The staff was friendly and invited me to take as many photos as I liked. I also had a slice of Key Lime Pie, which was also nothing to sniff at.

Most of those dining were locals and/or regulars, so don’t be surprised if you feel a bit “off” at first when you start looking around and taking photos. As we tucked into our meal, we noticed another group come in and start taking photos, so there’s also a good chance you’ll run into other fans.

side and back of benny's burgers

Seeing Tiffany’s aka Benny’s gave me a lot of “wow” moments as a fan. It seems like a pretty simple thing – a simple, non-descript diner not far off the interstate – but if you’ve watched the series as many times as I have, it will be a truly rewarding experience.

Bradley’s Big Buy
504 Center St.
Palmetto, GA 30268

Bradley's big buy home of eleven's eggos
Close to the same angle as when Mike and Dustin view the “aftermath” of Eleven’s visit.

After Tiffany’s, we made for our hotel and got some much-needed rest with the intention of getting up early and hitting this location as soon as it opened. In Stranger Things S1, Bradley’s is where Eleven causes a stir by stealing some Eggos. You’d think that Hawkins was pretty low key with how much attention this gets from the cops, but then, it’s fair to say that only one cop truly knows about the whole Demogorgon problem.

Like Tiffany’s, the interior and exterior are much the same as they are in the series. Of note is that Bradley’s is actually a Piggly Wiggly. I came to Bradley’s with two goals in mind: get some pictures and get some Eggos.

interior of Bradley's big buy

As you can see, the location looks pretty much the same. What wasn’t the same was the location of the Eggos. They were actually on the opposite side.

buying eggos at Bradley's big buy
We have Eggos and Coffee Mate. We’re good.

According to their Facebook page, this location also has some pretty famous shoppers from time to time, including Andrew Lincoln, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Norman Reedus.

Bethany Cemetery (Location of Will’s “Funeral”)
Rivers Road
Fayetteville, GA

Bethany cemetery location of will's funeral

In the South, it can take a long time for fall to take hold. As such, in early October, the trees and grass were still in full bloom when I visited this location, so it looks somewhat different from when it was filmed. I don’t know exactly when this scene was shot, but I suspect it had to be close to January given that the trees were completely bare and the grass was brown.

While I did explore some, I took care to mind my step out of respect for the families of those buried here. If you go, there’s a paved pathway that you can use to walk into the cemetery. Likely where Jonathan was parked when he shows Nancy the gun in the glove compartment.

Hawkin’s Middle School
109 S Lee St
Stockbridge, GA 30281

Hawkins middle school

So this was fun. When I arrived here, there were three cop cars camped out. I immediately felt nervous. Had someone been caught trespassing and they were camped out trying to ward people off? I took my chances and pulled in.

I’m still not sure why they were there, but I talked to them and let them know why I was there and that I was a huge fan of the show. They were very nice and told me it wouldn’t be a problem to let me look around so off I went.

What might not be immediately apparent when watching the show is that Hawkins Middle and Hawkins High are actually the same location. This does explain why I sometimes found the interiors confusing while watching, however.

I was disappointed to discover, upon looking into the window of one of the doors, that the interior has been painted. Boooooo. The area behind the “Hawkins Middle School” building where Mike, Lucas, and Dustin confront the bullies has also been painted.

Step right up and get your tickets to the freak show.

I loved seeing the painted “Hawkins Middle School” lettering on the building when I drove up, even with the cop cars parked outside. I wasn’t expecting it to still be there, so it was a nice surprise.

Melvald’s General Store (and pretty much all of Downtown Hawkins)
4 2nd St
Jackson, GA 30233

Of all the places I visited, I think this one was the most jarring. When watching Stranger Things, I always got the sense that this was another one of those out of the way small downtown areas that populate the highways of America.

In reality, Jackson, Georgia, the location of the downtown filming locations, is still pretty close to Atlanta and, as a result, there’s a lot of busyness surrounding it. It’s almost as if it exists in spite of itself.

I was surprised to see that the facade on Melvald’s was there. Having seen photos after filming, it appeared to have been removed at some point, but I know they had recently filmed a lot of scenes for Season Three, so it makes sense that it would return.

Bob Newby’s Radio Shack is also there, abandoned. Melvald’s, which was once “Jackson Drugs,” but closed shortly after Season One premiered, is also vacant. Across the street from Melvald’s is the building that’s shown as the exterior of the library where Hopper goes to research Terry Ives.

What’s interesting is that there’s a vaping shop near the square, which can be seen in several shots during the altercation between Joyce and Jonathan following the scene at the morgue. I can only assume that the shop owners didn’t want to cover their sign during filming and the production just went with it, hoping people wouldn’t notice the anachronism.

The black awning to the left of the tree in the foreground reads, “Electric Smoke.”

One of the pivotal scenes that takes place downtown is the altercation between Steve and Jonathan. I knew that the alleyway was just down the road from Melvald’s so after taking a stroll past Joyce’s workplace and Bob’s Radio Shack, I set out to find that alleyway.

There’s no theater here, however. The theater exterior where “All the Right Moves” was playing was simply a facade that was removed after filming. Bummer.

There were a few places I wanted to check out that I didn’t have time to get to such as Hawkin’s Laboratory (located at Emory), the quarry (which is closed) and the railroad tracks where Steve and Dustin drop the meat to lure the Demodog. I’m definitely going to have to take a trip back to see these places as well.

Planning a trip to see any famous movie or television locations soon? Let me know in the comments where you’ll be headed.

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