Thursday, September 19, 2013

The LOST Locations Tour!: Part One

As many of you know, I'm in Hawaii right now on a last-minute trip (my golf writer husband was invited to play in the Hawaiian Pro-Am golf tournament and spouses were invited along!) Before the golf began, I made it priority to go on the legendary Lost locations tour. I'd written about it in my books, and some of the tour guides had sent me photos they'd taken during the tours, so I couldn't wait to do it. The tour is offered in 2-hour, 5-hour, and 8-hour versions, but because of the last-minute nature of the request, I couldn't get on the 8-hour tour. Wah. However, on the 5-hour tour you go to Kualoa Ranch, which is the giant piece of land where 70% of the show was filmed. What you miss out on by not doing the 8-hour version is the beach (kind of a big set, and frankly, calls into question that "70%" number they use on the tour); the flats where expeditions happened (cue Expedition music), where Kelvin was killed, and where Jack and the MiB had their legendary final battle; Dharmaville, which is the YMCA camp... You don't go into the bamboo or the jungle areas, so that last three hours seemed like a big deal. I'll have to come back some other time to do it. :)

But let's look at where I did go!

The first place you see just as you're pulling away from the pick-up area is the church that was used as the church where Desmond goes to make the wine and become a monk, but also doubles as Oxford University, where Chah-lie and his brother had the argument out front about being in the band, and where Faraday and Desmond chat about Faraday's experiments. It's right in the downtown area, not remote like it appeared to be on the show:

To jog your memory, here are the scenes where it was used:

Next up, it was the site of one of John Locke's low points, at the gates of that rat bastard Anthony Cooper's house:

You probably can't read it, but there's a sign on the fence warning passersby about the Rottweiler on guard. It's probably just a ruse to keep away Lost fans.

Next we went up this narrow, winding road that our tour guide told us used to be the main highway, which is hard to believe (that said, I've seen some major M-roads in England suddenly turn into what appear to be single-lane driveways, so it can happen!) This is a photo of the site where Jack and Kate are in the pilot episode, searching for the pilot (who gets yanked up into the tree by Smokey).

(Sorry it's so blurry; our tour guide shot it, and our camera takes some getting used to...) When you watch the episode, it appears they're deep in the jungle. But in fact, we're sitting on the road that runs right by it. They managed to constantly shoot inwards from this angle so you'd never see the road running right alongside it. Here's what the road actually looks like; it's rather glorious to drive through:

Just around that bend in the road ahead was the tree where Eko died at the hands of Smokey:

It looked to me a lot like the tree where Richard Alpert buried his beloved wife's necklace, but I'll let you be the judge. This is a screen cap of that episode:

As you come down the Pali highway, we arrived at a remote out-of-the-way shack, and as we walked up I said, "Ah. This is Sayid's Habitat for Humanity house." "Very good," said the tour guide as he turned to me.

He said a lot of Lost fans get it as soon as he explains it, but very few call it out ahead of time. So for all you Lost fans who have taken the tour and knew this stuff before it was explained to you, you're in a rare group, apparently! (And I know everyone reading this was able to do so...) Oh, here's the screen cap to jog your memory:

By the way, I should mention our tour guide, Greg. He was a ham, and a really fun guy. He loved his props (more on those in Part Two), and was an extra on several episodes of the show. His recurring role as an extra was as "Mental Patient #1" whenever Hurley was in the mental institution (he's the guy sitting and drooling and playing a game when Hurley thinks he's posing in a photo with Dave; he's the guy wandering up the front lawn in a daze when Ghost Chah-lie comes to visit Hurley; he's often standing near a window or sitting at a table near Hurley). At the beginning of "I Do," aka the one with Nathan Fillion!!!, when Kate walks down the hall to her hotel room she passes a guy in the hallway. That's Greg. He had a lot of fun showing us the screencaps he forever keeps on his phone and telling us about how kind everyone was on the set. Apparently Terry O'Quinn would come out to the mental institution scenes just to sit and watch, and would sit and chat with everyone in between takes. He thought he was a great guy. This is Greg quizzing me on a beach as he pointed off to the distance and asked me if I could guess what the pier was we could see.

"The one where the Others kidnap Jack, Hurley, Sawyer, and Kate?" "Very good... and another?" "It's also the one where Ben first comes to the island as a child?" "Wow. I'm impressed... AND ANOTHER?!" "Uh... the one where Sawyer throws Juliet's ring?" "NO. That's another pier." "OK... the one where... they come to the island in the 70s?" "Nope." Smile growing on his face. "The one... Locke blows up?" "Nope. It's the one where Widmore leaves the island." "Wow.... there were a lot of piers on that show."

I should also mention here that along with us on the tour were two guys who'd never seen an episode of Lost. A friend had told them it didn't matter, because they'd still get to see scenery and areas of the island they wouldn't normally get to see. But with Greg and I geeking out over every little thing for five hours, I had a feeling after about two that these guys were regretting being on this particular tour. ;) (They were super-nice guys, though, and it was fun to chat with them about non-Lost things. One of them asked me to tell him how Lost ended and I couldn't bring myself to do it. "Oh, you'll watch the show after this tour, won't you?" "Nah, I doubt it." "Oh come on you will, I just can't tell you the ending!" "I really won't watch the show..." I still couldn't do it.)

Just as we entered the ranch we stopped at this little away spot, where he showed us where they'd built the entirety of the set for Last Resort, that Andre Braugher/Scott Speedman show that I LOVED. Then the show was promptly cancelled (natch) and they just left the island... and the set. So if there's anyone out there who actually watched the show like we did, here is the cage where they kept the captain and the bar on stilts:

And now... back to Lost.

This was our first stop at the Kualoa Ranch. Kualoa Ranch is best described as "exactly like that place in The Descendants." Presumably it's what they based that movie on. Anyway, it's been in the family for six generations, and it's a plot of land that's about 4,600 acres, a massive section of the island, all facing the water, and comprising this huge bowl of windswept mountains and gorgeous views. Many films and TV shows are filmed here, and that's become a big source of income to the ranch. They maintain Angus beef cattle and two Texas longhorns so they can call themselves an agricultural ranch and therefore pay property taxes in a different tax bracket. According to our guide, the most recent offer they've had to buy the property was from Hilton Hotels, for $9.6 billion (yes BILLION). They said no. And thank goodness they did, because every photo in my next post will be from there, and you'll see what a gorgeous piece of land it is. Could you imagine a giant hotel plopped in the middle of it, and the mountains clearcut right through to create manmade concrete lagoons? No, me either.

So anyway, right in this same alcove where the Last Resort sets were, was this:

"Can you name this?" Greg slyly asked. "I'll be very impressed if you can." Me: "Oh wow, it's the African place where Eko did the drug deal!" Greg nodded his head and smiled as he held up the picture.

We walked through the house towards another pier (gulp). Knowing he could stump me on piers, he said, "Can you name THIS one??!!" with a little too much glee.

"Yes, that's the one where Jin comes to visit his father who's the fisherman in Japan." Nailed it! 

(Don't worry, Greg will get me back for my winning streak in the next post...) We turned to look back at Eko's drug deal cantina from the back, and Greg revealed that it was actually reused as Jin's father's house when Sun went to visit him. This is my photo of it (and that magnificent tree in the foreground!):

And the screen cap of Sun with Jin's father:

Amazing how they can dress up a place like that to make it look entirely different from before. 

I'm going to take a pause here and post this, because I've been at it for over an hour and there's a beautiful day beckoning to me outside! Next up: some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. 


Rebecca T. said...

So jealous! this is totally on my bucket list. Though I have a feeling I'll want to rewatch the 6 seasons first so I can impress my guide ;) Don't think I could have come anywhere close to your memory, Nikki! So glad you got to go!

humanebean said...

Awesome! Feels like we're right there with you, Nik!

Beachgirl5835 said...

I'm reliving my trip back in December!!

Chris Hawkins said...

My wife and I hope to make the trip to Hawaii and this tour (hopefully the full length one!) one day, all the way from the UK. The pull of The Island is *that* strong :)

LittleMo said...

Great tour Nikki, thanks for your (as ever) wonderful description and pics. Makes me want to watch it all over again. Oh - and how did hubby's golf go ? :-) Looking forward to your next post

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this! Everytime I see something like this I get so excited that people still think about Lost, like I do. Hopefully one day I'll travel to Hawaii and have a chance to do this. Wow I am totally jealous of Greg....does he need an assistant? :)

Nikki Faith said...

SUPER AWESOME! Thanks for the visual tour, Nikki! :)

Marebabe said...

Fabulous pics and descriptions, Nikki! What fun!! I got to thinking, how WOULD I describe the ending of the show to anyone, fan or not? Not as difficult, obviously, as giving a rundown of the whole show, but still plenty challenging.

Nikki Stafford said...

I told him it was the most divisive finale since The Sopranos, that many fans, like me, thought it was absolutely perfectly played out, while others were not as happy with it. Greg made a noise and said, "Yeah... I was one of those who didn't like it. It could have been better. It should have all been in Hurley's mind." But then he admitted that the only reason he wanted that ending is because Mental Patient #1 would have been an essential person in the finale, haha!!

Ez said...

i took a LOST locations tour (hawaiian escapades) in 2011 with my wife on our honeymoon. SO WORTH IT! The beach locations (especially the crash site from ep.1)was really breathtaking, and going to DHARMAville, the Pearl and the temple sets were unreal!