The 1993 film “Free Willy” was largely filmed in Oregon, with additional scenes filmed in Washington and Mexico City. Jesse, played by Jason James Richter, is a troubled boy who stays with his foster parents, played by Michael Madsen and Jayne Atkinson, at this home, located in Astoria, Oregon. Astoria is well known for many iconic filming locations, such as “The Goonies,” “Kindergarten Cop,” “Short Circuit” and more.
LOCATION: 3392 Harrison Ave, Astoria, OR 97103
Jesse is assigned to work at a park and clean up graffiti as part of his probation. He goes to Northwest Adventure Park, which is actually Oaks Amusement Park in Portland. There he meets Willy the whale. This building was used as the exterior to where Willy is kept. In the film, on the other side is a water tank and sloped seating arena. At the real location, it’s just a parking lot on the other side. This building is the Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink. The water tank scenes were filmed at the former Reino Aventura Park in Mexico City, which is now a Six Flags (Six Flags México, Blvd. Picacho-Ajusco Km 1.5, Jardines del Ajusco, Tlalpan, 14200 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico).
LOCATION: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202
Just across from the Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink is the house of Randolph, who becomes a mentor and friend to Jesse. While the house is private, it is easily visible from the park, which is completely open to the public and does not require any admission fee. While it’s on the same park grounds, we’ve provided the exact GPS coordinates below.
LOCATION: GPS coordinates: 45.473363, -122.663271 (on the grounds of Oaks Amusement Park)
Near the end of the film, the park owners hatch a plan to kill Willy and collect the insurance money. Jesse organizes a rescue for Willy and takes him to Dawsons Marina, which is actually Hammond Marina in Hammond, Oregon. Hammond is located just a short distance from Astoria. There’s a sign there identifying it as the filming location. We always love when places honor their film history in this way.
LOCATION: 1080 Iredale St, Hammond, OR 97121
Here’s a closer look at the sign.
Here is where Glen smashes through the gate with his truck.
Here is the boat ramp where they release Willy into the water.
Here is where Dial and Wade approach and try to stop Jesse, with a fight ensuing.
Willy is finally released and has an opening to freedom, but some boats approach and block the opening.
Jesse then runs out onto the jetty and signals Willy to jump over it. In the film, it is made to appear Jesse runs directly along the jetty, but this would be impossible. The crew added a wooden pathway just behind the foremost rocks, to allow a smooth running platform.
Willy jumps over Jesse to freedom, reuniting with his family on the other side.