Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: Atlanta Movie Tours

Can You Feel the TWD Love Today?


As the energy built for the release of “The Walking Dead” Season 7 Trailer on July 22, 2016 at the San Diego Comic Con, the TWD Fandom Community was and still is all a twitter. The countdown for the Season 7 Premiere on October 23rd has officially begun.

Trailer Tease

There are many other Fandoms out there, but I don’t think any can equal the camaraderie and love between the TWD Fans. Except maybe the Supernatural gang, but their fan base is predominately of the female gender so there is really no comparison.

Unless you’re a Walking Dead Fan, you’ll never understand the bond we all have. I have never experienced such a tight community even though we are all over the world.

My son and I recently attended our third Walker Stalker Con in Edison, NJ and it was a breath of fresh air after the rudeness we experienced in Disney World while chaperoning my Son’s school marching band last April.

Yes, fans of a zombie apocalypse show are hands down nicer and friendlier than any guest I encountered in the Magic Kingdom.

At the Con there were thousands of people, all ages and from all walks of life, who descended upon the convention center to see the stars from their favorite show, “The Walking Dead.” You have couples, families and best friends, all coming together for a weekend of everything “The Walking Dead.”

It was a TWD Love Fest indeed!

Some are cosplaying, dressed as their favorite characters, while others show their love by the t-shirt they chose to wear, or even with a tattoo or two. We gather to not just meet the stars, but to say thank you for all they do to make our viewing experience an amazing one.

We stand in line, sometimes for hours, but at no time do we complain. While we wait to see our favorite actor/actress, we discuss the show and compare our thoughts and feelings about some of the most gut wrenching episodes. We also get to know each other and often make new friends.

We are most definitely making memories that will last a lifetime.

And the stars reciprocate this love. Welcoming each fan with a handshake, a hug or both, as we come to their booth to get autographs, selfies or both. And, even a brief Meet and Greet for those whose budget is tight or have come baring gifts, which was me the past two conventions. Handing out t-shirts to promote this blog and much to my surprise, at this one, Iron E. Singleton was wearing the t-shirt I gave him at the last Con.

On a side note, please be aware that although Meet and Greets are allowed, if they get excessive, the powers that be will limit them to late in the day or cut them off all together. So please don’t abuse this fantastic opportunity. Remember these stars are giving up their weekends to come to the con. Some coming right from the set, taking red eye flights, and heading back late Sunday for an early set call on Monday. Yes, they are doing what they love, but they still deserve time off.

What an amazing feeling it is to chat with the stars about the show, your family, their family, past projects, future projects, whatever it is that you might want to discuss. For anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes, some even longer depending on the situation, it’s just you and your favorite actor/actress. This is most definitely the highlight of the convention. You cannot put a price on this.

For me though, in addition to that, I can’t put a price on this time spent just my son and me. It wasn’t until we got home Sunday night after the con that I realized how much these conventions truly mean to me. We were barely in the door and my son was on his computer, chatting with friends and playing games. I know, he’s a typical teenager, but after such an amazing weekend it would have been nice to have the camaraderie between him and I linger on, even if just for the rest of the day.

As my son gets older and slowly pulls away from me in search of his independence, these conventions become two days to have my son all to myself. These times are beyond special. Our day-to-day schedule can be so full, with the only time we have together being dinner, and even that can be filled with conversation about what needs to be tended to, so time away from home, doing what we both love, brings pure joy to my heart in more ways than I can count.

As I’ve said many times before, who knew a zombie apocalypse would help me make it through my son’s teens and allow me to get closer to him.

Walker Kills

When my Son dragged me into the apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead” back in 2013, I never thought the bond it created would be one that would be so valuable. At the time it was just something fun for the two us to do together. We would watch the show and discuss the episode. Since he reads the comics he always had/has insights that I would not pick up on. It created an open forum for discussions that sometimes would lead to subjects beyond the show. An open portal for territory we might not otherwise have discussed.

And here we are 3 years later completely immersed into the TWD Community, loving every minute of it and still going strong, if not stronger.

We are planning on heading to Georgia next Summer to do a repeat TWD Summer Road Trip, just as we did in 2014, but this time taking more time to explore. Hopefully my Son will have his license by then and can help with the driving.

Of course we will do all 3 Big Zombie Tours and include a visit to Nic and Norman’s, the restaurant opened in Senoia, AKA Woodbury, that is owned by Greg Nicotero, Norman Reedus and four additional producers. A TWD trip would not be complete without dining at this fine establishment. Who knows, we may just run into someone involved with the show?

TWD Road Trip Collage

I’m getting all a flutter just thinking about going back to Georgia. Planning this trip will bring light into the grey Winter days of January and February.

We have also decided once my Son turns 18 we will volunteer at one of the Walker Stalker Cons so we can experience things from the other side. This will take us up the end of my Son’s High School Years and usher in the next leg of his journey, College.

A journey that will most likely challenge both of us for different reasons. Let’s just hope the challenges are not of apocalyptic proportions.

I believe though, the toughest phase of the “Waking the Walker” Journey is still ahead of us. Dealing with all that’s involved in ones Junior and Senior Years of High School, plus all that goes into the process of selecting a career and college suited to get you prepared for that career, will most definitely test our stress and anxiety levels. Which in turn could pit us against each other, although I’m hoping the closeness we’ve achieved while bonding over TWD will help us sail through these years unscathed and create an even stronger bond.

Memories

The next two years will prove to be the real testing ground for my “TWD Apocalyptic Parenting Tactic.” Will it pass or fail is yet to be determined, but I can say so far it’s looking pretty good.

Why? Because I can most certainly feel the TWD LOVE, not just tonight, but every day!

 

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2016. All rights reserved.

Photos from my Personal Collection

http://walkerstalkercon.com/

http://atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour/

http://atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour-2/

http://atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour-3/

https://www.facebook.com/nicandnormansofficialpage/

http://www.scifiphotoguys.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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Our TWD Summer Road Trip


For all who didn’t read yesterday’s post, “The Optimist Realist Wingman,” please note, this post is strictly a run down of all the places my son and I saw during our TWD adventure. For my personal insight into the amazing bonding experience we had, please check out “The Optimist Realist Wingman.” This trip has certainly made an impact on both us.

20140710_092908Now for the nitty gritty of our escapades. We started out for GA on Thursday, July 10, 2014 with a pit stop in New Market, VA to tour the New Market Battlefield Military Museum. This museum was well worth the stop. It is actually the personal collection of John M. Bracken. Extremely impressive. After our tour, we proceeded to our overnight stop in Lake Norman, NC. (Can anyone guess why I picked this spot?) Lake Norman is the largest manmade freshwater lake created by Duke Energy as part of the Cowans Ford Dam between 1959 – 1964. From what we could see, the lake was beautiful. Unfortunately we got in late and didn’t have any time to explore. Hopefully one day we can return. This stop was strictly to rest and refuel.

The next day we completed our journey, landing at the Wyndham Peachtree Convention Center in Peachtree City. 100_3397This would be our base camp while touring the TWD sites and what lovely base camp it was. The pool area was a virtual oasis. While driving through Atlanta en route to our hotel, we couldn’t resist playing the TWD theme song as the view of the Atlanta skyline was visible on the horizon. Link to YouTube is listed at end of post. We also got a real taste of Atlanta traffic, hitting it around 3 o’clock on a Friday. I have no idea how people drive in that every day. God bless them. Once at the hotel it was time to get a little R & R. Mommy got an adult beverage while her son took a dip in the pool.

Saturday, we headed back into Atlanta for Atlanta Movie Tours – Big Zombie Tour, Part 1. This is a three hour tour, that covers the locations from TWD’s first Season. We 100_3119started at the building that was used as the department store where Merle is left on the roof. This building just happened to be by the bridge Rick crosses on horseback when heading into Atlanta and the railroad tracks and overpass where Glenn, Rick and Daryl park the truck when they return for Merle. In a distance you could see the high rise where Rick sees the reflection of the helicopter. Next we traveled to the street where Rick pulls the box car to the loading dock to get the group trapped in the department store. And, next to that is the store front where the walkers crashed through the doors. From here, we drove through the area where Rick’s horse went down and the tank was parked. We also saw the narrow alleyway where Glenn helps Rick escape the horde100_3155 of walkers. Next up was the goat farm where the Vatos exchanged Glenn for guns. After the goat farm was the building that was used for the outside of the police station and the alley along side of the building where Rick, Morgan and Duane park and head in for weapons and hot showers. This is also where Rick has to dispose of his fellow officer turned walker. The building used as the hospital followed and this was truly the highlight of the tour. Flashing back to Rick stumbling out the back door in just a hospital gown, seeing all the covered bodies lined up in the parking lot, then walking up the hill and seeing all the abandoned and destroyed military vehicles. You really felt like you were reliving the scene. 100_3157From here we went to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center that doubled as the CDC in the show. The structure is stunning and very impressive. Believe it or not, the window they all jumped out of was actually removed just for that scene. The final stop on the tour is the bridge with the Atlanta skyline as a backdrop. This is the view used when Rick rides into Atlanta on his horse. The part with Rick was filmed via green screen and digitally joined with the 100_3158abandoned highway and skyline. As I found out when driving through Atlanta on 85, the skyline used for the shot is not the actual skyline on 85. 85 runs North to South and the skyline runs East to West, so, in order to get the dramatic shot they wanted, they needed to use a little Hollywood magic. If you watch our video driving into the city you can see the difference. Finally, capping off the tour, our guides, Patrick and Kathryn, have both been walkers on the show, so in between location hopping, we heard great behind the scenes stories about their time on set. Read the rest of this entry »

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