Top 10 film-location cities you should visit in real life - United Hub

The top 10 film-location cities you should visit in real life

By Bob Cooper

Seeing every corner of the globe is one of the many reasons why we love watching movies. From epic romances to heart-pounding action to fantasy-filled adventures, movies are the windows through which we see the world. But stepping out the door and actually traveling to one of the destinations depicted in your favorite film, is even better. While there are many cities to choose from, below is a list of the top 10 cities you should add to your list of places you've only seen in the movies.

Dublin, Ireland

Much of the last two “Star Wars" epics, “The Force Awakens" (2015) and “The Last Jedi" (2017), were shot in southern Ireland, so cinephile tour guides now whisk visitors to those filming locations — and especially to Skellig Michael— the small, craggy Irish island and World Heritage Site that served as Luke Skywalker's monastic retreat. Plan ahead, as only about 200 daily visitors are allowed on the island, and only from May to October. But the chance to hike the 600 stairs to the island's monastery is literally breathtaking. Besides “Star Wars" tours, Irish Film Tours offers walking tours of Dublin film sites.

New York City, New York

Nineteen “Best Picture" Oscars are set in the Big Apple, more than in any other city. Among them were the first two “Godfather" films. While visiting the city you can see the New York State Supreme Court building where Don Barzini was assassinated in “The Godfather" (1972) and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration where Vito Andolini is renamed Vito Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II" (1974). If your tastes are more contemporary, you'll need to stop by the St. James Theatre where the 2014 Best Picture, “Birdman," was filmed. You can also walk through Central Park where a number of scenes have been filmed, including Home Alone 2, where Kevin evades the “Sticky Bandits." Around the holidays, you can visit the Rockefeller Center where Buddy goes ice skating in "Elf" and where Kevin is reunited with his mom standing under the famous Rockefeller tree in "Home Alone 2". If you're looking for a tour of multiple film sets and locations, try On Location Tours, the busiest Manhattan film-tour operation.

London, England

Among countless films set in and around London, few top “A Hard Day's Night" (1964). Two of the opening scenes of the Beatles taking a train ride to escape hordes of screaming teenage girls show London's Marylebone Station. The most recent “Best Picture" to spotlight locations near London is “The King's Speech" (2010), with Ely Cathedral serving as the stand-in for Westminster Abbey. Then there's the Winston Churchill biopic, “Darkest Hour," which received six 2018 Oscar nominations and features several scenes at the Parliament's St. Stephen's Hall, which also welcomes visitors.

Auckland, New Zealand

The legendary producer/director Peter Jackson was happy to film all six of his blockbuster films in the “Lord of the Rings" and “The Hobbit" trilogies in his native New Zealand. No wonder, as the entire country is blessed with movie-worthy natural beauty. Much of the filming of both series took place on a sheep farm that served as Middle-earth and is now called Hobbiton, an immensely popular family theme park two hours from Auckland. Hobbiton visitors see the only still-intact movie sets from the films, from the meandering paths of the Shire to the Hobbit Holes, the Mill and Green Dragon Inn.

Tokyo, Japan

While in Tokyo, you and your travel partner can pretend to be the characters played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in “Lost in Translation," the 2003 film that more than any other showcases the dreamlike dazzle of the city. First you can dine at the New York Grill atop a 52-story hotel where the two characters met to begin their long flirtation. Next you can sing karaoke just like Bill and Scarlett at Karoke-Kan in the Shibuya entertainment district. Or you can escape the neon jungle at Zojoji Temple, scene of Yashida's funeral in “The Wolverine" (2013), a landmark dating to 14th-century Japan.

Chicago, Illinois

Movies set in Chicago have featured actors in brooding roles like Christian Bale's Batman (“The Dark Knight," 2008) and Harrison Ford's Dr. Richard Kimble (“The Fugitive," 1993), as well as lighter roles like Paul Newman's slick con man in “The Sting" (1973 Best Picture). Chicago sites seen in such movies include visitor-friendly Daley Plaza and Navy Pier (“The Dark Knight") and Union Station (“The Sting"). You can see these downtown movie locations, along with dozens more from hit films like “Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986) and the “Transformers" and “Home Alone" movies, on a bus tour or free walking tour.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Alnwick Castle, two hours from Edinburgh, draws nearly a million annual visitors largely because it was transformed to become Hogwarts School in the first two “Harry Potter" movies. Several “Harry Potter" tours that visit the castle and other filming locations start in Edinburgh. If you instead drive northwest of Edinburgh, you can explore the mountainous Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area, where many scenes that appear in “Braveheart" (1995 Best Picture) and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975 slapstick cult classic) were filmed.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is a magnet for the filming of dramas — from recent crime classics “The Town" (2010) and “The Departed" (2006 Best Picture) to “Mystic River" (2003) and “Good Will Hunting" (1997). The park bench where Robin Williams encouraged Matt Damon to grab life by the throat in “Good Will Hunting" — earning him an Oscar — is one of many spots in Boston Commonthat you've probably seen in the movies. Those sites, along with Jack Nicholson's mob hangouts in “The Departed" (2006), are seen on the Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Dramatic emerald mountains that tower over a verdant valley have made Kualoa Ranch the perfect exotic filming location for decades. But it's also a 4,000-acre nature reserve, a working cattle ranch and a tourist attraction. Found 25 miles from Honolulu on Oahu's windward coast, the Ranch offers tours of film-scene locations via ATV, all-terrain truck, e-bike, horseback and — the most popular choice — vintage school buses. On the Jurassic Valley Movie Sites Tour, the bus stops at the “Jurassic Park" (1993) fallen tree and the footprints made by “Godzilla" (1998) among other movie sites. It's common for visitors to see filming taking place for upcoming movies while exploring the ranch.

Salzburg, Austria

Mirabell Gardens is the setting for the “Do-Re-Mi" scene, the Great Festival Hall is where “So Long, Farewell" is performed by the children (and where the real Van Trapp Family Singers performed in 1936) and the Nonnberg Abbey is where the children are turned away while looking for their missing governess. All three locations from “The Sound of Music" (1965) are walking distance apart in Old Salzburg, a delightfully compact city of steepled churches, monasteries, abbeys and the Cathedral Quarter's 180 museum halls and galleries. Visitors can see these sights and more — including the “16 Going On 17" gazebo — on the “Sound of Music" tours on either a bikes or via bus.

If you go

United Airlines offers flights to all of these cities except Salzburg (less than two hours by train from Munich). Visit united.com or use the United app so you can jet off to admire the sights you've only seen in the movies.

Celebrating immigration perspectives and diverse journeys

By The Hub team, September 25, 2020

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the U.S. celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a chance to pay tribute to the history, culture and contributions that generations of Latinxs have paved to enrich U.S. history. It is also a reminder to celebrate our differences and spark difficult, yet important, conversations.

To kick off the month, UNITE, our multicultural business resource group for employees, did just that by hosting a panel discussion about the immigrant experience and what it means to be an immigrant in the U.S.

United Litigation and Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, who is a pro bono immigration attorney, moderated the panel, and was joined by Ashley Huebner, Associate Director of Legal Services at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Magdalena Gonzalez, Program Manager, Leadership Development Programs at Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement. The three women shared their insights and personal stories, while addressing some misconceptions and highlighting the contributions of immigrants to our company and country.

Participants' headshots from United's Hispanic Heritage Month Panel From left to right, Elizabeth Lopez, Ashely Huebner and Magdalena Gonzalez

"I started to notice that there were things I was scared of doing, that I needed to be cautious," said Magdalena while sharing her personal experience as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. "My friends, who a majority of them are citizens, did not need to worry about that. As I was able to see that, I realized that, 'oh, there's so many things that revolve around not just being a DACA recipient but revolve around being a person with an undocumented status here in the United States.'"

United maintains a close relationship with the NIJC. In May of 2019, United co-hosted an asylum clinic put on by the legal services organization, where several attorneys and legal professionals were trained on representing asylum-seeking applicants. At the end of the clinic, members of our legal department were assigned an asylum case through the NIJC.

Litigation Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, Commercial Transactions Counsel Tiffany Jaspers, Global Compliance and Ethics Counsel Nancy Jacobson and Employment Litigation Senior Manager Dorothy Karpierz were partnered with attorneys from the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to take on an immigration case of a mother of three from Honduras. Recently, after a years-long court battle, the legal team was victorious, changing the life of the woman and her family.

United is committed to connecting people and uniting the world. Whether you're an immigrant, a child of immigrants or simply want to learn more about the immigrant experience in the U.S., discussions like these, related to this hot-button issue, are important to have in order to understand the human lives behind it.

Make your voice heard

By Brett J. Hart, September 22, 2020

Your voice matters. Voting is one of the most influential civic activities we can engage in as Americans. At United, our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. That's why we've long provided our employees with resources to help them get registered to vote.

This year, we're taking our support a step further as the official airline of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Since the start of the pandemic, we've overhauled our cleaning measures through a program we call United CleanPlusSM , and the CPD has placed their trust in United to fly Commission production staff to each of the four debates, starting with the first one on September 29, hosted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

Today, on National Voter Registration Day, we also want to make sure our customers have access to information about how to participate in the 2020 Election. Over the past several months, you've heard a lot from us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed air travel. We've learned that with some planning and extra effort, it's still possible — and safe. That's true of voting, too.

No matter which party you support or how you're planning to vote, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and make a plan to vote.

Best,

Brett J. Hart
President
United Airlines

United named to Year Up Opportunity Hall of Fame

By The Hub team, September 17, 2020

Since its launch 20 years ago, Year Up, one of our critical needs grant recipients, has helped more than 10,000 young adults gain access to corporate business and technical experience at large companies like United while offering the invaluable perspectives they bring with them.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit inducted United into its Opportunity Hall of Fame – a selection that occurs once every five years.

Year Up's mission is to help close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Since 2018, our partnership has allowed talented student learners the opportunity to gain corporate business experience and technical skill training at the airline while bringing their unique perspectives to our United family and culture. One of those students is Emily Lopez, who graduated from the Year Up program in January 2019 and was hired to be part of the United family as an analyst in Revenue Management.

"I moved from Venezuela to the United States in July 2016 and being a young immigrant with no resources can be difficult to pursue a career in a new country," said Emily.

After learning about Year Up and ultimately being accepted into the program, Emily landed an internship with United, an opportunity she is very grateful for.

Emily Lopez - Analyst, Pricing & Revenue Management

"Feedback from my mentors, coaches and managers was key during my internship phase and helped me convert my internship at United to a full-time position. I am grateful for the opportunity United has provided me and my Year Up Alumni colleagues to keep building a professional career within the company. I am so excited to continue building a professional career with the company and to see United being inducted to Year Up's Hall of Fame. Let's continue closing the opportunity divide!" said Emily.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made this year's partnership a bit more difficult, we continue to do our part to support the Year Up student learners. Last month, we surprised 145 graduates of this year's Year Up Chicago program with roundtrip tickets to pursue career and networking opportunities within the United States.

"I've been personally honored and inspired to be an advocate for Year Up since I joined United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "This program gives young people from challenged backgrounds an opportunity to get their foot in the door as interns at United. This year's graduates are entering a challenging job landscape, but we have one thing that can help: a route network that provides easy access to major business markets across the United States."

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