Whenever I’m traveling and people find out where I’m from, 90 percent of the time, the reaction is, “Iowa! Have you been to the Field of Dreams?” I’m a little embarrassed to say the answer is no, I've never set foot in Dyersville. But thanks to the purchase that was made earlier this week, I still have a chance to go.
Photo via Field of Dreams Movie Site
The land where the 1989 movie was largely filmed had been in the Lansing family since 1906. Though the Lansings put it on the market for $5.4 million last year, they were willing to wait for just the right buyers. They wanted new owners that would preserve the land, let the Ghost Players squeeze nine innings in from time to time, and allow tourists (65,000 annually) play catch on the site.
Well, they found the right owners last week. Denise and Mike Stillman bought it for an undisclosed amount and plan on building more fields and an indoor practice facility on the 193-acre farm.
Thanks to the Stillmans, fans will be able to flock to the Field for years to come. It’s not the only place you can go to be a part of the movies, though - here are five other places movie buffs can go to be part of their favorite films.
1. Forks, Washington. Before the Twilight books and movies came along, Forks was a tiny little town of about 3,000 people. When Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural series became a huge phenomenon, Forks saw their tourism increase by about 600 percent. Although the movies weren’t actually filmed there, the people of Forks haven’t missed a beat. They’ve turned a charming old house into a bed and breakfast called the Cullen House; they’ve put a house similar to the Swan house on their Twilight tour; they’ve designated a parking spot for “Dr. Cullen” at the local hospital and of course they have a dazzling array of Twilight-themed gift stores and restaurants.
2. Madison County, Iowa. I redeem myself as an Iowan a little bit - I have been to the Bridges of Madison County. Winterset, Iowa, holds the Covered Bridge Fest so people can see the six famous bridges every October. Well, you can see the bridges any time of year, but the October festival seems to be perfectly timed for photo ops with the changing leaves. If you ever decide to make this pilgrimage, you might as well make a side stop for another movie-related spot in Winterset - John Wayne’s birthplace.
3. The Amityville Horror House in Amityville, New York. Technically, the owners of the allegedly haunted house don’t want you there, so I’m not actually suggesting that you make the trek to check it out. But plenty of people do. Hoping to make the house a little less recognizable, the owners even changed the distinctive curved windows that made the house look like it had eyes. They also changed the address. That was more than 20 years ago, but tourists seem to have been undaunted.
4. Wamego, Kansas. As in the Forks example, none of the Wizard of Oz was actually filmed in Wamego. But it’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to walking in Judy Garland’s footsteps unless you can afford to purchase one of the pairs of ruby slippers floating around out there (be prepared to spend a few hundred thou). During the first weekend of October, Wamego holds OZtoberfest, a festival featuring descendants of writer L. Frank Baum, various actors from the movies, hot air balloon rides and more. You can also visit the OZ museum, which houses thousands of pieces of memorabilia. If that’s not enough to settle your Yellow Brick Road wanderlust, the OZ Winery and Toto’s Tacoz (really) are open year-round.
5. Edinburgh, Scotland. There are all kinds of spots across the U.K. where Muggles can get their Potter fix, but Edinburgh is where J.K. Rowling wrote the first two books and at least finished the last one. There are also plenty of places around town that seem to have been the perfect inspiration for some of the most famous locations in the series, from Hogwarts to Diagon Alley. But if you want to be sure visiting a tried-and-true Potter locale, hop on over to London and visit King’s Cross Station, which is explicitly mentioned as the place where the gateway to the Hogwarts Express exists. A “Platform 9 3/4” sign has been installed in the station, along with a cart that appears to have halfway disappeared into the wall.
I know these are just a few of the places movie fans flock to for their own silver screen experiences - where have you been? Where would you like to go?