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.
Visiting the filming locations of the classic 1994 film “Forrest Gump” is a staggering feat, as the story unfolds all across the United States and the production likewise followed that path.
The famous opening scene of the feather falling was filmed at Chippewa Square in Savannah, Georgia. It descends past the steeple of The Independent Presbyterian Church Administration Building.
LOCATION: The Independent Presbyterian Church Administration Building, Savannah, GA 31401
Here is a wider view of the full building.
As the feather falls closer to the ground, we see the First Baptist Church in the distance.
LOCATION: First Baptist Church, 223 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401
The feather finally reaches the ground and settles on the shoe of Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks. Forrest sits at a bus stop and recounts the story of his life to strangers sitting on a bench waiting for their bus rides. The location where Forrest sits is at the intersection of Hull Street and Bull Street in Chippewa Square. In reality, there is no bus stop or bench there. They were added for the film. Instead, there are just some plants.
Here is a wider view of the area.
LOCATION: Chippewa Square, Savannah, GA 31401 (at the intersection of Hull St / Bull St)
The actual bench from the film can be found at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California. It can be seen on their studio tours.
LOCATION: 5555 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
The exterior of the lounge where Forrest finds Jenny, played by Robin Wright, performing nude, can also be found in Savannah. The name of the restaurant is Love’s, just as depicted in the film, but it is a seafood and steak joint and you won’t find any nude performers there.
LOCATION: 6817 Chief Of Love Rd, Savannah, GA 31419
The interior of the scene was actually filmed at the former Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which has long since been demolished. The hotel was a staple of film and television, appearing in such films as “The Graduate,” “True Romance,” “Seven,” “Bobby,” “True Lies,” “L.A. Story,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Mask” and dozens more. Only this post and statue from the original building remain at the location.
LOCATION: 3400 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (now demolished)
Forrest celebrates New Year’s Eve with Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise, in what is supposed to be New York City. This was actually filmed on 6th St in Downtown Los Angeles. This area is right next to the locations used for the Nite Owl Coffee Shop from “L.A. Confidential” and Wild Bill’s Leather from “Seven,” both of which were fictional businesses.
LOCATION: Near the intersection of E 6th St / S Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
On the same street, as Forrest exists a TV studio, Lieutenant Dan is waiting for him outside. This was actually on a ramp built above this sandwich shop, which has since been removed. The same sandwich shop has appeared in the films “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Rumor Has It” and “A Lot Like Love.”
LOCATION: 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Lieutenant Dan then loses control of his wheelchair and slides down the ramp into this wall at the same location.
Later in the film, Forrest begins running, from coast to coast. He is seen reaching the famous Santa Monica Pier.
LOCATION: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
He reaches the end of the pier and turns around to begin running back across the country. There is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant located on the pier itself as well, although of course it was not a filming location.
As Forrest runs through Flagstaff, Arizona, he steps in a pile of manure and helps coin the phrase “Shit happens.”
LOCATION: Near 106 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Also in Flagstaff, Forrest runs past the former Twin Arrows Trading Post. The building featured two large, wooden arrows piercing the ground. Some mud splashes on Forrest and he uses a t-shit to clean off his face, creating the famous smiley face t-shirt. The building now unfortunately sits abandoned.
LOCATION: Twin Arrows Trading Post Ruins – Historic Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Here’s a closer look at the arrows, which are slowly deteriorating.
Forrest’s running attire from the film can be found on display at Planet Hollywood in Florida.
LOCATION: 1506 E Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Late in the film, Jenny is working as a waitress and sees Forrest on television. This was filmed at Debi’s Restaurant in Savannah, located just a few blocks away from the opening scene of the film.
LOCATION: 225 E Bay St, Savannah, GA 31401
The restaurant is quite proud of their connection to the film and the front is decorated with quotes from the film and a shot of the scene.
We’ve only covered a portion of the vast filming locations here. The production also shot scenes in South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Vermont, Maine, Montana and Washington D.C.
At Wendover Airfield, located near the border of Nevada and Utah you’ll find one of the planes used in the Nicolas Cage action film “Con Air.” The plane isn’t the only attraction to be seen, however, as the area was also used as one of the major locations of the film.
First, we’ll cover the plane. There were actually several planes used during filming. The plane used during flight scenes has a rather tragic history. After being sold to a variety of owners, both military and private, in 2010 the plane crashed into Mt Healy, Alaska, killing three flight crew on board. However, the Jailbird plane used for filming taxi scenes fared much better and now sits on display at Wendover Airfield and it’s completely free to see. It can be found near the parking lot and while it is surrounded by fencing, during daytime business hours at the nearby museums, the plane is accessible for free to the public. Here are several different views of the plane.
LOCATION: 345 Airport Way, Wendover, UT 84083
Here is a view inside the plane. The interiors seen in the film were actually a set built at Sunset Las Palmas Studios (1040 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038). Nevertheless, we’ve included a few shots inside the plane at Wendover.
Here is a view of the cockpit, facing out towards the airfield.
Wendover Airfield is still an operational airport, which has a long history dating back to World War II. Bomber groups trained here during the war, which included three Medal of Honor recipients. There’s a museum documenting the history of the airfield, which attracts a lot of tourism. However, our focus is of course on the filming history.
Wendover Airfield has often been used in films, dating back to 1982’s “The Philadelphia Experiment.” “Independence Day,” “Mullholland Falls,” The Core” and Ang Lee’s 2003 version of “The Hulk” all filmed at the airfield as well. The scenic vistas have also been filmed as plates and stock footage in untold numbers of productions. However, arguably the film most widely associated with the airfield is “Con Air.”
The bad news is that all of the filming locations are located away from the main roads, out on the airfield. The good news is, for a fee, you can arrange a personal escort out to the filming locations. Simply look up the Historic Wendover Airfield and reach out to management to arrange a tour. Do not book one of the regular museum tours, as that is a separate attraction and they typically do not venture out to the filming locations. Instead, contact management and tell them exactly what you’re wanting to see and when. They are very friendly and accommodating.
Now we’ll take a look at which scenes filmed at the airfield. Midway through the film, the plane makes a stop at the fictional “Lerner Airfield” for a rendezvous, where the criminals are supposed to change planes and escape the country. When they arrive however, the other plane does not appear to be there, leaving them waiting at the airfield for an extended portion of the film.
The filming area is surrounded by this barbed-wire fencing. In the movie, Steve Buscemi plays a Hannibal Lector like killer named Garland Greene. Garland roams off from the others out past the fencing. Due to the fact the fence runs the entire perimeter, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact spot of the shot, but here is a general view of the fencing.
Garland spots a little girl at a nearby trailer park having tea time in this empty pool. He comes over and joins her.
This is the airstrip where the plane takes off again, dragging a car in tow.
This tower was featured prominently in the film, including when Johnny-23, played by Danny Trejo, warns the others they’ve got company. It’s also where the car crashes into the tower and detaches from the plane. There is a similar looking tower visible from the road near the entrance of Wendover Airfield. That is not the one seen in the film. The filmmakers saw the real tower and had a replica built specifically for the film, which is seen below. It is not visible from the main road.
Vince Larkin, played by John Cusack, stands beside the inept Duncan Malloy near these buildings, as they watch Malloy’s car crash back down to the ground.
Near the end of the film, an action sequence takes place at in a tunnel supposedly located in Las Vegas, as Poe pursues Cyrus The Virus, played by John Malkovich, on a fire truck. This was actually filmed in the Second Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles. The tunnel is a popular filming location, appearing in such films as “Kill Bill,” “Blade Runner,” “The Terminator.” “Independence Day,” “Double Dragon” and many more.
LOCATION: 620 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
If you’re a filming location fan, we highly encourage a visit to Wendover Airfield. Just be sure to plan a bit in advance with management to confirm you can get an escort out to the locations. It’s well worth the time and expense if you can make the trip.
As time has passed, appreciation for Michael Mann’s crime saga masterpiece “Heat” has continued to grow. Few films have ever captured Los Angeles so magnificently as Mann did here. Even after all of these years, a few locations remain secret, but most have surfaced.
The opening shots of the film show Neil McCauley, played by Robert DeNiro on the Metro Green Line, arriving at the Redondo Beach Station. Director Michael Mann would return to this same station for the closing scenes of “Collateral.” If you plan to visit this station, the only way to access the platform is by purchasing a fare.
LOCATION: 2406 Marine Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Neil steals an ambulance from the St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. The same hospital shows up again later in the film, when Vincent Hanna, played by Al Pacino, rushes his step-daughter Lauren, played by Natalie Portman, to the emergency room.
LOCATION: 1050 Linden Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813
Chris, played by Val Kilmer, purchases explosives from a company in Whittier (10006 Rose Hills Rd, Whittier, CA 90601). However, the building seen in the film was unfortunately demolished.
The Mexican food stand where Waingro gets picked up was likewise demolished. It was formerly located at 1233 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006.
The opening robbery of the armored truck takes place on Venice Blvd, exactly as Hanna states in the film. It’s near the Los Angeles Convention Center, just underneath the interchange of the 10 and 110 freeways. The detention center scenes from “Scarface” were filmed nearby as well.
LOCATION: Venice Blvd / Convention Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90015
The robbers emerge from underneath this split overpass for the collision.
This is where Vincent arrives to investigate the aftermath.
McCauley’s crew torches the ambulance here.
LOCATION: W 22nd St / Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007
McCauley’s crew takes Waingro to the former Johnie’s Broiler in Downey, where they attempt to kill him in the parking lot, but he ultimately escapes. The restaurant has a unique history, having appeared in many other films, such as “Short Cuts,” “License To Drive,” “The Game,” “My Stepmother Is An Alien,” “One Hour Photo,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and many more. In 2007, the building was unfortunately demolished. However, Bob’s Big Boy purchased the property years later and rebuilt it based on the original blueprints and even some of the same materials. So what stands now closely resembles what was seen in the film.
LOCATION: 7447 Firestone Blvd, Downey, CA 90241
The bookstore (1254 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401) where Eady, played by Amy Brenneman works, as well as the cafe (1457 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401) where she gets to know Neil are part of the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The whole area, an outdoor pedestrian mall, was heavily renovated and both businesses are long since gone.
Vincent and his wife Justine live in what is known as the “Sixth Street House” in Santa Monica. A famous architectural piece, the house has the designation of historical landmark. Unfortunately, much of the front of the home is obscured by a wall and shrubs, making it a bit inconspicuous. The side of the home offers better visibility. In the film itself, only the interiors of the house are seen.
LOCATION: 2634 6th St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
The location of Neil’s oceanfront home, where Chris sleeps off a domestic spat, has long been subject to debate. The house most commonly believed to be the correct location can be found on Malibu Cove Colony Drive, a private road just off the Pacific Coast Highway. Old real estate listings showing the interior of the home match closely with what was seen in the film, down to fixtures and appliances. The same house was also featured in the film “Less Than Zero,” where Jami Gertz tells Andrew McCarthy she’s not going to college. However, since then portions of the home have been remodeled, making it a difficult task to match up in person.
The entrance to Malibu Cove Colony Drive has a gate and guard on duty, preventing any public access (most beachfront roads in this area are likewise private). On the opposite side, however, are the outskirts of Escondido Beach, which is open to the public, but also presents its own challenges. First and foremost, the houses sit very close to the water. All of them are perched on stilts, as the tides can reach all the way up to the base of the properties. Visitors should use caution if they walk these narrow shores, as the high tides can leave you little room to cross. It also makes photography a challenge, unless you plan to take a swim. The next challenge is simply identifying the correct home. Many of these beachfront homes have been heavily remodeled. If you attempt to match them to satellite views, many details won’t align in person, due to remodeling. Some of the homes also resemble one another, particularly their patios, making it even more confusing. It’s easy to see why, after decades, the location has remained subject to debate. To be certain we found the correct home we were seeking, we used a combination satellite imagery and GPS. A drone (or jet ski) is likely a better method to view the house, but if you do attempt it on foot, use caution and do your research.
LOCATION: 26940 Malibu Cove Colony Dr, Malibu, CA 90265
The restaurant where Donald, played by Dennis Haysbert, begins working under the abuse of a crooked manager is Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank (not to be confused with the Downey location covered earlier in this article).
LOCATION: 4211 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505
Later in the film, Neil happens to be dining inside with his crew and spots Donald cooking and immediately recognizes him as a former prison buddy.
Neil speaks to his driver, Trejo, from a phone at the restaurant, where he is informed Trejo is being tailed by cops and cannot join their heist. In need of a last-minute, replacement driver, Neil offers Donald a job on the spot.
Plans for the bank heist are first offered to Neil and Nate, played by Jon Voight, when they visit Kelso, played by Tom Noonan. The house was filmed on Dodds Circle in Los Angeles, which is also where Trejo’s house is located in the film. Neil and Nate first park here, overlooking the 10 freeway.
LOCATION: Dodds Cir, Los Angeles, CA 90063 (just off Dickson Ave)
McCauley then discusses the plan with Kelso at his house, which is fenced off around the entire perimeter.
LOCATION: 1235 Dodds Cir, Los Angeles, CA 90063
Vincent and Drucker visit Albert’s chop shop in Wilmington. At the time of filming, the area was rumored to host an actual chop shop, though now it’s just a train maintenance area. The distinct, yellow sulpher pile still remains and there is a very strong smell in person.
LOCATION: 1017 Foote Ave, Wilmington, CA 90744 (near the railroad tracks)
Vincent later meets up with Albert at a club to speak with another informant.
LOCATION: 3548 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005
The drive-in theater where a deal goes wrong was formerly located at 5700 W Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90045. It was demolished not long after filming took place.
The restaurant where Neil’s crew dines can be found in Santa Monica, near the pier.
LOCATION: 1535 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401
McCauley’s crew proceed to take down a metals repository, only to abandon the job midway, after McCauley hears a noise and correctly surmises the police are watching.
LOCATION: Near 1309 Factory Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Vincent stands in this general area after the failed operation.
Eady’s house sits perched on stilts in the hills of West Hollywood, offering a magnificent view over the city. There’s not much to see from the front of the house itself on Blue Heights Dr. Signs declare the cul-de-sac where it sits to be private property, but you can still see it well from the public section of the road. The floor to ceiling windows and patio area are much better seen from lower streets, such as Viewmont Dr (near the 1600 block, just before it reaches a dead end). The house found renewed interest in 2014 with the TV series “Bosch,” where it serves as the home of the titular detective.
LOCATION: 1870 Blue Heights Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90069 (best seen from around the 1600 block of Viewmont Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90069, just before the road hits a dead end)
Here is a view of the city, as seen from Blue Heights Dr, just before you reach Eady’s house, closely resembling what you’d see from the home.
One of the film’s classic scenes is of course the face to face meeting between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The conversation took place at the excellent Kate Mantilini, an institution of Beverly Hills which sadly closed in 2014 after the restaurant could not afford a rental increase by the building owners. We managed to capture some photos from when the place was still open.
LOCATION: 9101 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (now closed)
Above the entrance to the restaurant, this image from the iconic scene was hung.
After meeting Neil, Vincent returns to a hotel where he’s staying, only to discover his step-daughter Lauren has attempted suicide in his bathroom. This was filmed at the Hotel Angeleno, just off the 405 freeway. The hotel was mostly seen from interior views in the film, aside from a shot of Vincent looking down at the freeway from his balcony.
LOCATION: 170 N Church Ln, Los Angeles, CA 90049
The exterior of the famous bank robbery scene is set in downtown Los Angeles at the Citigroup Center. This same location was also briefly seen in David Fincher’s “Fight Club.”
LOCATION: 444 S Flower St. Los Angeles, CA 90071
The robbery then spills out onto the streets, in what many consider one of the greatest shootouts ever filmed.
LOCATION: Intersection of W 5th St / S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
After the robbery, the police try to bait in Chris by setting up a meeting with his wife Charlene, played by Ashley Judd. After she tips him off with a subtle gesture, he leaves the scene. He’s stopped next to Venice Beach by the police, where he presents false identification and escapes.
LOCATION: Navy St / Speedway, Los Angeles, CA 90405
Trejo’s house, much like Eady’s, sits on stilts over a hillside of L.A., where he is discovered by McCauley near the end of the film. It sits on the same small road as Kelso’s house from earlier in the film, which was discovered as a result of finding this home for the film.
LOCATION: 1219 Dodds Cir, Los Angeles, CA 90063
Neil talks with Eady as the two look out over the ocean next to this tree. It’s located next to a popular park in Pacific Palisades known as The Point at the Bluffs, which has a beautiful view over the water.
The hotel where Neil tracks down Waingo can be found right next to LAX airport, just as depicted in the film. Neil parks in this alley next to the hotel.
LOCATION: 5711 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045