Note: this post heavily references The Hunger Games, so if you haven’t read the books or seen the movie you might get a little confused by the terminology. Also — how have you not read the books or seen the movie yet?! Jeez.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I contributed $27 of the $152.5 million that The Hunger Games raked in during its opening weekend by seeing it twice in a three day period. What can I say? I read all of the books twice like a 15-year-old fangirl, so turning the movie experience into a double feature just seemed right. But like the residents of District 12 starving for a measly piece of squirrel meat, I in no way feel satiated. Poring over the pages in a book and squealing like a tween in a movie theater just doesn’t satisfy my “hunger”, if you will. No, what I need is to is immerse myself in the woods where they filmed The Hunger Games in North Carolina.
Since the entire movie was shot there, tourism officials are pushing hard to attract fans to the state with this handy list of places to experience The Hunger Games in North Carolina. The Tar Heel State’s tourism board has even started advertising in other countries in hopes that foreign fans will descend upon filming locations like tracker jackers on a fallen tribute from District 1. I do not need that much persuading, however. I’ve been ready to role play as the male Katniss Everdeen since she blew up that supply pyramid with a falling apple. Call me Katniss EverSteve.
The set locations are scattered around the city of Asheville in the western part of the state, which fits the post-apocalyptic Appalachian vibe of District 12 nicely. For a true taste of Katniss’ home district, head out to Henry River Mill Village where shots of the Seam and the Mellark Bakery were filmed. By the look of it the place is about as destitute in real life as it appears in the movie, so imagining you’re a starving child walking to the Reaping won’t be too difficult. Oh, and the village is private property so trespassing is technically a punishable offense. But did Katniss obey the Peacekeepers’ demands to stay out of the woods? Hell no. She hopped an electric fence, grabbed her bow and arrow out of a log, and skewered some bunnies for her fellow villagers to boil into stew.
From District 12 take your hovercraft (or rented Ford Taurus) to the DuPont State Recreational Forest where you’ll find the 10,000 acres of woodland trails and waterfalls that comprise the arena of the 74th annual Hunger Games. I suggest you keep your good ear alert as you search the grounds for the charred remnants of the epic fireball scene, otherwise you might not hear the pack of Career Tributes coming to put a spear through you like poor little Rue. And if you see any big dogs or purple berries, just get the hell out of there.
If you’re looking for a more realistic experience as a tribute in the Hunger Games, there’s a company that offers a Hunger Games tour and adventure weekend for die-hard fans. For $389, you can spend a weekend between April and September exploring the grounds of DuPont Forest, learning wilderness survival skills from your “sponsor”, and engaging in a fatality free simulation of the Games. There’s even archery lessons! God, it’s like summer camp but with more pretend murder.
With the buzz around The Hunger Games still going strong, it would probably be a good idea to start making vacation plans to North Carolina now before the sets start getting swamped with tourists from the Capitol. May the odds be ever in your favor while booking flights and hotel rooms.