Senoia plans trolley tours to film locations in the area

Sunday, January 6, 2013 – 2:04pm
Submitted by Ben Nelms
Raleigh/Riverwood Studios President Scott Tigchelaar shows off Senoia’s next addition to the city’s burgeoning television and film industry. The old-fashioned trolley later this year is expected to provide guided tours to the two dozen locations around town where movies such as “Fried Green Tomatoes” and television shows such as “The Walking Dead” were filmed. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Anyone visiting Senoia knows many of the buildings added in the downtown area in recent times were constructed to look as if they have been there for 100 years. Now Scott Tigchelaar of Raleigh/Riverwood Studios is about to add another feature to the landscape — an old-time trolley that will provide tours for the city’s many movie and television locations.

Tigchelaar said there had been previous conversations about having various types of tours around the city and “we always talked about formalizing a tour.” And when it comes to promoting Senoia, Tigchelaar said Senoia Downtown Development Authority Chairman Suzanne Helfman has been the driving force for promoting the city and putting on a variety of events. And those efforts come from volunteers, Tigchelaar added. And a part of the efforts of promoting Senoia led to the idea of having guided tours in an old-fashioned trolley.

“I started looking for a trolley and found a good deal so I knew I had to come up with a plan,” said Tigchelaar. “Sometimes it’s better to act and then figure out what to do.”

Manufactured by Chance Trolleys, the 22-seat trolley was built by hand in 2001 but looks like a model from the 1920s. The exterior features wood accents while the interior comes complete with brass handrails and wooden seat backs.

The diesel engine is powered by natural gas. And to be sure to have sufficient fuel for tours, Atlanta Gas Light is installing a natural gas filling station, Tigchelaar said.

Tigchelaar said the trolley is expected to be outfitted with video monitors so guests can see clips of locally-filmed movies or television shows, such as the “Fried Green Tomatoes” house, when the trolley pulls up at the location. In all, there are currently 24 film and television projects that might be included in the tour.

“With ‘The Walking Dead’ here now, it’s enough of a destination to warrant having the trolley,” Tigchelaar said. And with the hit television show returning for its fourth season beginning in May, Tigchelaar said he would like to have plans for a formalized tour completed by that time.

Still in the planning stages, Tigchelaar said he was not yet certain what type of schedule the trolley would maintain.

“But whatever we do and in whatever form, it will increase tourism. And that’s a good thing,” Tigchelaar said smiling. “Even if it’s just one day per week or maybe just on special occasions it’ll be a great vehicle for showing people the area.”

Tigchelaar is anticipating making the trolley more than just a tour vehicle. He said Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Price had expressed an interest in utilizing the trolley for tours in adjacent Peachtree City, adding that those tours might include Senoia. How a potential shared arrangement might unfold will be something that will be determined later, Tigchelaar noted.

Whether the increasing presence of the film and television industry or the expanding growth of retail businesses that defy the effects of the recession, Senoia is a city that always has something happening. So the presence of a 1920s trolley providing tours around the city will only add to the ambience