Lights, Camera, Action! Film Locales in Orlando
by Ryan Wiseman
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 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:
Parenthood  - 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.
Lethal Weapon 3  - 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  - 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  - 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  - 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. The Waterboy starred Adam Sandler as "Robert 'Bobby' Boucher Jr.," as well as Kathy Bates and Henry Winkler.
Monster  - 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  - 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.
In addition, before Disney closed its Central Florida animation studio at Disney-MGM 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-MGM 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," said Kyle Collins, Director of Interactive Marketing for HotelsCorp.com. "In addition, both Disney-MGM Studios and Universal Studios 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, Back to the Future the Ride and Twister . . . Ride it Out, among others."
Central Florida is also home to the Florida Film Festival, a 10-day event in 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.
About the Author
Orlando, Florida Guide, the most comprehensive online guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World, also features discount Disney World tickets, incredible deals on Orlando hotels and individually tailored Orlando vacation packages.