Culture + Style

Sharknado Was Filmed Here! A Movie Buff’s Guide to Orlando

“Jaws 3-D” was filmed at SeaWorld Orlando. (Photo: Nataliya Hora/

Orlando earned the nickname “Hollywood East” in the late ’80s, when Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and and Universal Studios Orlando opened their gates. Filmmakers flocked to the region, and a number of notable movies filmed in The City Beautiful and its environs. Catch a piece of the action visiting locations from these five memorable films.

  1. “Sharknado 3.” Audiences were unprepared for the kitschy awfulness that “Sharknado” embodied — which of course meant the movie became an instant cult classic and earned the creation of at least two sequels. The plot? A freak weather system occurs, causing the ocean’s most terrifying, toothy creatures to rule sea, land and air. After terrorizing California and New York, they took a bite out of Orlando in the third installment, filming throughout Universal Studios Orlando theme parks and production facilities.
  2. “Lethal Weapon 3.” The chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover — the crime fighting duo in “Lethal Weapon” 1 through 4 helped propel the action movie franchise into one of Hollywood’s most profitable. The third installment featured the series’ most memorable opening sequence: the buddy cops tried to deactivate a bomb hidden inside Orlando’s former City Hall when — oops! — they accidentally detonate it, blowing the whole place to smithereens. The explosion was a real, controlled demolition organized by movie producers and permitted by city officials. Orlando’s former City Hall is today a distant memory.
  3. “My Girl.” You’d be made of stone not have cried buckets during “My Girl,” the Macaulay Culkin classic that ends when a bee sting turns tragic. Pay your respects to this ’90s favorite by driving to Bartow, an hour southwest of Orlando. Head to 555 East Stanford Street to see the sprawling, 19th-century home that served as the funeral parlor — and home to Anna Chlumsky’s unforgettable character, Vada — in the film.
  4. “Jaws 3-D.” Oh, that wily saber-toothed shark, Jaws. Just when folks thought they were safe, the killer fish found its way to SeaWorld Orlando, terrorizing tourists and locals, in the film series’ third installment, “Jaws 3-D.” Though SeaWorld has undergone multiple renovations since the film’s 1983 release, visitors can still make their way to the underwater Shark Encounter tunnel and the enormous lagoon, both featured in the film.
  5. “Sydney White.” This 2007 teen comedy starring Amanda Bynes may not have been a darling with critics, but it won the hearts of many Orlando locals who were hired as extras and earned cameos in the film. Loosely based on “Snow White,” the movie was filmed throughout the city and surrounding neighborhoods, including Church Street Station, Apopka, Winter Park, Rollins College, University of Central Florida’s Recreation & Wellness Center.