I recently made a pilgrimage with a good friend and fellow Whedonite to Torrance, CA, aka real life Sunnydale from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s something we’ve both been wanting to do for a while, as the show and all the people involved have influenced us so much. It was also on the way to our summer apartment so we figured, why not!? During our short trip we visited two of the most significant locations in the show: Sunnydale High School and the Summer’s residence.
Our first stop was the high school, and as soon as we pulled up, we could barely contain our excitement. After seeing those front doors over and over throughout the first three seasons, it was a bit unreal to finally be standing in right in front of them. When we reached the stairs leading to the front entrance, my friend starting jumping up and down saying, “This is where Xander skateboarded and ran into the handrail in the pilot! That bench is where the Scooby Gang sat! There’s the tree where Willow twirled that pencil in the air!” It was pretty awesome. We spent about 10 minutes geeking about the front lawn before picking up our jaws and heading inside.
As we entered the high school, walking past the summer school attendees who were probably oblivious to THS’s historical importance, our glee did not die down. We soon reached the courtyard, home to the many lunch scenes, hallway conversations, and of course the infamous graduation/ascension ceremony of season 3. It was a bit sad to see it crumbling and under construction with the main outside stairs completely demolished, but we still felt privileged to expand our vision of it beyond the usual rectangle.
We continued to search around the campus looking for other filming locations we recognized and saw the gym, the auditorium, and possibly the new SHS campus featured in season 7. We even came across the section of hallway where Angel does a bad thing in season 2 (my friend painstakingly took the time to recreate the scene). Our campus tour concluded shortly and we decided to head to our next destination a few blocks away.
As fantastic as it was to see Buffy’s home, it was a bit weird considering we parked in front of what was in reality a private residence. However, we soon got over our worries of giving off creeper vibes and fully enjoyed the moment, sitting outside for a good 15 minutes taking pictures and resisting the temptation to ring the doorbell and pretend to be knife saleswomen. We also made a promise to someday buy that house, restore it to how it looked in the show, and occasionally open it for tours (not sure how likely that is but that would be excellent).
All-in-all, it was a wonderful day and a fully satisfying experience as a big Buffy fan. If you ever are in the neighborhood, I highly encourage stopping by as long as your visit is respectful of the current residents/students of those locations. You might also want to check out UCLA, as parts of season 4 were filmed there (the bit with the flyers in 4:1 was filmed on Bruinwalk outside of Kerchoff Hall). I’ll leave you with a cover of the theme that I did for my friend’s birthday: