Orlando Film Locales

Published date on March 31, 2015

This content was first published 60 days ago or more

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Although Central Florida has never quite lived up to its reputation as “Hollywood East,” many classic – and some extremely medicore – movies have been shot in the Orlando, Florida area over the years. The brief list below highlights some of the more notable films that were partly or wholly shot in Central Florida, as well as one cult movie that boasts a significant connection to the Orlando area:

[1989] – Directed by Ron Howard, Parenthood starred Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, Joaquin Phoenix, Dianne Wiest and Keanu Reeves. Although this comedy/drama dealt with the trials and tribulations of a “Midwestern” family, many scenes were shot in Central Florida, including Orlando, College Park and Altamonte Springs. The birthday scene was shot at the now-defunct Mystery Fun House across from Universal Orlando Resort.

Lethal Weapon 3 [1992] –
The building that gets blown up in the opening sequence of the film is actually the old Orlando City Hall building, which had been scheduled for demolition anyway. The rest of Lethal Weapon 3 was filmed elsewhere.

Trekkies [1997] –
This hilarious documentary on obsessive Star Trek fans profiled a Central Florida dentist, Dr. Denis Bourguignon, who had opened a “Starbase Dental” office full of Star Trek memorabilia and whose staff wore Star Trek uniforms.

The Blair Witch Project [1998] –
Although this incredibly successful independent movie was filmed entirely in Maryland, its director and cast all graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF). Made for about $35,000, The Blair Witch Project eventually grossed nearly $250 million worldwide.

The Waterboy [1998] – The “Bourbon Bowl” game at the end of the movie was filmed at the Citrus Bowl in downtown Orlando. Many of the extras in the scene were UCF students. Scenes were also filmed at Stetson University in DeLand and Palatlakaha River Park in Lake County. The Waterboy starred Adam Sandler as “Robert ‘Bobby’ Boucher Jr.,” as well as Kathy Bates and Henry Winkler.

Instinct [1999] – This mediocre thriller, which starred Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr., features scenes shot in Winter Park and Valencia Community College.

Monster [2003] – Charlize Theron captured an Oscar as “Best Actress” for her portrayal of prostitute and serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who was executed for a notorious killing spree during the 1980s. Monster, which also starred Christina Ricci and Bruce Dern, was shot entirely in Central Florida.

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector [2006] –
Larry the Cable Guy (real name: Dan Whitney) resides in Sanford, Florida, and his film debut was shot entirely on location in Orlando. Judging by the myriad of negative reviews, critics seemed decidedly underwhelmed by Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and a sequel appears unlikely.

Other movies that feature scenes shot in Central Florida include Honky Tonk Freeway (1981), Jaws 3-D (1983), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), D.A.R.Y.L. (1985), Miami Connection (1986), Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), Days of Thunder (1990), Shakma (1990), My Girl (1991), Oscar (1991), Problem Child 2 (1991), Passenger 57 (1992), Dead Presidents (1995), The Walking Dead (1995), Rosewood (1997) and Olive Juice (2001).

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In addition, before Disney closed its Central Florida animation studio at Disney-MGM Studios (now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in 2003, a number of animated films were worked on there such as Mulan (1998), Lilo & Stitch (2002) and Brother Bear (2003), among others. The space is now occupied by an attraction called The Magic of Disney Animation, a behind-the-scenes look at the animation process.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios still maintains a backlot tram tour that takes you past movie sets and props, as well as Catastrophe Canyon, a showcase for state-of-the-art special effects. In addition, both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Florida feature a variety of rides and attractions based on popular movies such as Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Beauty & the Beast, Star Tours, The Great Movie Ride, Revenge of the Mummy, Men in Black Alien Attack and Twister . . . Ride it Out, among others.

Central Florida is also home to the Florida Film Festival, a 10-day event in late March/early April that features American independent films, foreign films, documentaries, regional and family films, animation, narrative films and midnight movies. Past attendees have included Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy and Oliver Stone. The Florida Film Festival takes place at the Enzian Theater in Maitland.

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