“An entire abandoned town built for Tim Burton's "Big Fish!"”
In Tim Burton's surprisingly touching film Big Fish, Edward Bloom, played by both Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, visits a mysterious town in the middle of a dark forest. The picture-perfect town was named Spectre, and all of its citizens were so friendly and comfortable that they spent their days wandering the town barefoot. It was the idyllic, quaint American neighborhood, but it never existed...or did it? You might think that some lovely little southern community acted as the setting for fictional town, but what few know is that Tim Burton had the entire town built from scratch on an island along the banks of the Alabama river...and it still sits there, hidden and alone. Here's how to visit the abandoned town of Spectre from Big Fish. Today, Spectre is a shadow of how it appeared in the movies. Situated on a private island, outside Montgomery, Alabama, many of the buildings have collapsed of have burned down, though a few reportedly remain, complete with plasterboard bricks and roofs covered in moss and mold. Those who look closely will see that even numerous trees are beginning to show that they're actually just styrofoam setpieces. Still, seeing the derelect town in person is one of the most unique road trip stops for any movie lover. You can almost imagine the residents still strolling through the fictional town. While the remains of Spectre are located private property, the owners of the island are friendly and generally willing let visitors roam the island, though it costs travelers three bucks to cross the bridge, a small price to pay when it comes to wandering an abandoned film set. -Roadtrippers Built specifically for the 2003 Tim Burton film "Big Fish", the fictional town of Spectre actually exists on the banks of the Alabama river, unused since the movie's production. Each of the buildings created for the film still stand, from a general store to a chapel at the end of the short road, slowly decaying on a private island. You can visit the town of Spectre, complete with plasterboard bricks and roofs covered in moss and mold. You can almost imagine the residents still strolling through the fictional town. In the film, Edward Bloom (played by Ewan McGregor) has taken an abandoned path through a supposedly haunted forest where he discovers a mystical sleepy little town. Spectre is made up of two neat rows of homes and businesses leading up to a humble, white church in the middle of thick woods where few men travel. No roads lead to or cut through Spectre which rests on its perfectly trimmed and lush grass clearing. The town is so comfortable, none of its residents even wear shoes! Be warned that the town is on private property, and to visit, you'll need an "OK" from the owners of the island.. but it's worth the hassle.
Just came back a week ago from this trip. The gentleman I spoke with to get onto the island seemed to think I was crazy for wanting to get out there and take pictures, but understood why I wanted to do it. The property is used for fishing and camping. I'm thinking about going back and staying over night.
I explain how to get permission to go on the property in my blog post about my visit! I also provide a picture of the google maps image of the island :)
Better get here quick - I was there last month - got in by calling the number on the gate getting the code and depositing money at the un-manned gate house. Really neat to see what is left - remember this is just a studio set - fake partial buildings that were poorly constructed and falling apart from the weather. Expect to spend an hour looking around - the grounds are pretty cool with all the big trees, waterfront and moss.
The folks around there are generally very giving, interesting, folks. Pretty good business folks at the time as I remember. You see it took a lot to talk Fox, Zanuck, Cohen, Burton into leaving the town.
You see the little one that played young Jenny is my now grown daughter.
Has anyone heard anything about how to get permission to go on the property? My boyfriend and I will be road tripping across the country and would love to make this stop.
Easy to get-to just outside Montgomery. Very pretty little island. All instructions are at the gate. $3 per person. Worth the detour - - and won't be there forever.
This is on an island called Jackson Lake Island. You can find out information about the island on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/JacksonLakeIsland/timeline
When you get there, you call the number on the gate to get the gate code. Don't worry, there are instructions on the gate. Then you put your entrance fee in a provided envelope at the gatehouse. The fee is $3 per person to visit and $10 per person to stay overnight. If you're not staying overnight, you have to be off the island by dark.
Once you go through the gate, just keep following the dirt road onto the island until you eventually see a little wooden sign that says Spectre with an arrow pointing to the left. Go to your left, and you'll start to see the tiny wooden town. Be warned, this town has residents, a small herd of goats. All of the ground around and inside of the prop houses is covered in goat droppings, so be sure to check your shoes before you get back in your car.
The town itself is showing lots of wear and tear, which is to be expected from a prop town outside on an island. It's really neat to see the parts that have aged naturally versus the parts that were aged by the set dressers for the movie. There's a line for you to throw shoes on like the little girl did in the movie, so bring an old pair with you for an awesome photo-op!
When we went, there were lots of people fishing on the island and people kayaking in the water around it. There were also a fair number of people camping. We even saw two separate couples taking what looked like engagement pictures. It was an absolutely beautiful area.
Lots is left of this little place. You just drive up to the gate, call the number posted on the gate, and deposit $3/person for entrance. The man on the phone is very nice and will give you the gate code. Drive on in, across a winding River, and then you will see Specter! Took lots of pictures- for being a prop set 15 years old, I think it looks pretty great.
Driving home from spending the day here & can't say how lovely it was! The land owner said there's only about 40% of the set standing (March 2015)- I would agree. The island itself was great to explore!! Since its private property, we were confused how to get in but it was simple. Drove to the gate - called the "for info" number on the gate - a gentleman answered - I kindly asked if we would be able to see the Big Fish set & the island - he asked me to fill out a card at the booth by the gate. Name / car tag # / make&model / # of people and you pay $3.00 per person he gave us a code and the gate opened!! We will certainly come back to camp & fish!!!
I could see the owners turning this into a great "tourist trap" with shops and cafe's.......Think about it!!!!
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