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‘Hunger Games’ tourism: See District 12 — and the Arena — in the flesh
by Hillary Busis

katniss at triple falls

photo credit Murray Close

Nobody in Panem really wants to be in District 12 — not even those unfortunate enough to call it home. From its ramshackle houses to the Little House on the Prairie-style garb its people wear, Katniss Everdeen’s birthplace is bleak, gray, and depressingly old-fashioned. In fact, the only less desirable location in Panem might be the arena where the Hunger Games themselves are held.
Then again, Hunger Games super-fans don’t exactly see things that way. According to People, droves of them are flocking to North Carolina so that they can visit locations seen in the blockbuster film — and imagine themselves as citizens of Panem. Quiet spots like the abandoned Henry River Mill Village are being flooded with folks eager to catch a glimpse of the Seam and the Mellark family bakery. DuPont State Recreational Forest, site of Katniss’s hunting grounds and the games themselves, is even offering specially-designed Hunger Games fan tours. (Participants learn basic survival skills like shelter-building and cake icing — er, camouflage – as they visit spots that appeared onscreen.)

Of course, fan pilgrimages are nothing new. Harry Potter fanatics, for example, frequently visit London’s King’s Cross Station, hoping to catch a glimpse of Platform 9 3/4. (The station recently erected a permanent sign that points out where the platform is; unfortunately, to get to the Hogwarts Express, you’d have to run through a wall.) And so many Twihards visited Forks, Washington at the height of Twilight-mania that someone actually made a documentary about the town. (The movies themselves were actually filmed mostly in Oregon.)
Want to plan your own Panem vacation? After taking a moment to consider whether you really want to visit a dystopian wasteland built on the backs of murdered children, consult the North Carolina tourism board’s handy list of Hunger Games locations. Before long, you’ll be stalking through the woods like Katniss herself. Just be sure not to eat any suspicious-looking berries.