David's Vacation Club Rentals
David's Vacation Club Rentals

“ITM Never Says ‘Die'” OR “How I Spent My Goonie Vacation”

in Inside the Magic, Movies, Movies & TV

Hi, it’s Mike. I’ve been reporting for Inside the Magic since April of 2015 (the first event I covered was Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim last year.) In the fall I was brought aboard the website full-time as part of the new team, so if you’re a regular here you’ve probably seen or read my work.

Last week I took my first real vacation since that time began, and my now-fiancee and I used the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine and visit some of the locations from the 1985 movie “The Goonies” (directed by Richard Donner, from a story by Steven Spielberg) on the coast of Oregon.

I was born three weeks before the end of 1979, so you might say I am a quintessential child of the 80s. And to me, “The Goonies” has always represented what it was like to be a kid during that period. It’s not a flawless work of art and it certainly didn’t win any Oscars, but more than any other movie, I feel like “The Goonies” perfectly captures the spirit of adventure, optimism, and occasional sense of danger that accompanied childhood in the Reagan era. You might say that if the characters in “The Goonies” weren’t in a Spielberg movie, they would almost certainly grow up as fans of Spielberg movies.

WATCH “THE GOONIES” TRAILER:

Last year was the 30th anniversary of “The Goonies,” and I unfortunately didn’t make it up to the commemorative fan celebration in Astoria, Oregon, where most of the film’s exterior scenes (and some interiors) were shot. So when my then-girlfriend* and I started planning a camping trip to the Pacific Northwest, I knew I had to insist on a pilgrimage to discover the locations I knew so well from the film. *Yes, there was also a non-Goonies-related, but still highly-successful marriage proposal that happened during a different leg of this trip.

Our first stop was the Oregon Film Museum, formerly the Clatsop County Jail, and site of the opening scene of “The Goonies.”

The Oregon Film Museum, formerly the Clatsop County Jail
The Oregon Film Museum, formerly the Clatsop County Jail
The jail was the shooting location for the entire opening scene of "The Goonies"
The jail was the shooting location for the entire opening scene of “The Goonies”
The jail cell where Robert Davi (Jake Fratelli) was imprisoned.
The jail cell where Robert Davi (Jake Fratelli) was imprisoned.
You schmuck!
“You schmuck!”
The costume worn by Data (Ke Huy Quan) in "The Goonies."
The costume worn by Data (Ke Huy Quan) in “The Goonies.”
Hanging out with the Goonies in the museum.
Hanging out with the Goonies in the museum.

Directly across the street from the museum is the historic Flavel House, one of Astoria’s most famous buildings, and another location from “The Goonies.” This is where Mikey’s father worked, and stood on the front porch waving as the Goonies set off on their adventure.

The Flavel House played the Astoria Historical Museum in "The Goonies."
The Flavel House played the Astoria Historical Museum in “The Goonies.”
"Hi, Mikey!"
“Hi, Mikey!”

While in town we also passed by the bowling alley where Chunk (Jeff Cohen) spots the police chase in the opening scene, and the marina where Martha Plimpton’s character Stef was introduced.

But our next stop on the tour was perhaps the most famous building in “Goonies” lore– the home where Mikey (Sean Astin) and Brand (Josh Brolin) grew up, on the hills overlooking the marina. Unfortunately because of some disrespectful visitors over the past few years, the section of road leading up to the Walsh house has been declared off-limits to Goonies fans. We of course honored the wishes of the homeowners and kept a safe distance.

I'm pointing at the famous Walsh home from "The Goonies."
I’m pointing at the famous Walsh home from “The Goonies.”
At the bottom of the driveway are several warnings to stay away from the property.
At the bottom of the driveway are several warnings to stay away from the property.

Fortunately there are still several more exciting spots to visit for fans of “The Goonies” who want to plan a trip to Astoria. Next we drove down the Oregon coast a bit to Cannon Beach, where the movie’s opening off-road truck race took place.

"Throw her into four-wheel drive and hold onto your hats!"
“Throw her into four-wheel drive and hold onto your hats!”

 From there it’s just a quick drive up into Ecola State Park, where Mikey and his friends discover the entrance to One-Eyed Willy’s ancient pirate treasure caves underneath the Lighthouse Lounge restaurant (which was a set built for the movie and demolished immediately after production) on the ocean cliffside.

The exact spot where Mikey and friends drag their bikes up the cliff in "The Goonies."
The exact spot where Mikey and friends drag their bikes up the cliff in “The Goonies.”
Pointing at the location of the Lighthouse Lounge Restaurant from "The Goonies."
Pointing at the location of the Lighthouse Lounge Restaurant from “The Goonies.”
"The rich stuff is near the restaurant!"
“The rich stuff is near the restaurant!”

Before the trip I made sure to purchase a replica of Mikey’s Spanish doubloon from an Etsy prop dealer. I knew I wanted this moment to be perfect. The trick was finding the exact right spot, and of course having a wonderful fiancee with a lot of patience to take the picture.

"Guys, I think I have a match!"
“Guys, I think I have a match!”
Reference screen-capture from "The Goonies." Copyright 1985 Warner Bros.
Reference screen-capture from “The Goonies.” Copyright 1985 Warner Bros.

And after I shared that picture on Facebook, my boss, the benevolent Mr. Ricky Brigante, mocked up a color-corrected version in the movie’s aspect ratio. It was most appreciated.

Ricky mimics Richard Donner.
Ricky mimics Richard Donner.

The reverse shot of the “lining up the rocks” scene was always a composite, and much of the cliff trail at the State Park has eroded away since the 80s, but we were still able to find a spot in the woods where the famous rocks align with the doubloon. The end result doesn’t quite match with the location of the restaurant, but it was still an amazing moment that I had been waiting to accomplish since I was six years old.

As close an approximation of lining up the rocks as possible.
As close an approximation of lining up the rocks as possible.

“The Goonies” was a formative movie for me, and I have loved it for over thirty years. Getting to visit some of the shooting locations was high on the list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime, and now I’m glad to say I managed to check it off the list.

If you’re a fan of the movie, or just enjoy beautiful coastal towns and seaside views, I highly recommend visiting Astoria, Oregon.

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4 Comments

  1. Kurt Bergeron

    The fans did that. The owner of The Goonies house used to accept the fans with open arms. Even allowing some to see the attic, even th

  2. EricJ

    While I’m glad folks have nostalgia, this is the second fan column in a week where I had to point out that I was -there- in 1985, junior, and most of us audiences HATED the darn thing back then. It was not a well-loved or successful movie.
    It was, um…..-not- what most of us were expecting as promising young Chris Columbus’s first script after Gremlins, the pre-release hype of “Spielberg’s movie salute to Pirates of the Caribbeans” (yes) didn’t quite pan out as we’d pictured–at least not in the slightly different and more ride-accurate version as we’d picture one today–it got largely negative reviews as “Loud”, “Charmless”, and “Written BY and for 10-yo.s”, and made only slightly more box office than Police Academy 2.

    But, everyone loves movies from the Ghostbusters and Back to the Future days. Especially those who weren’t alive when they opened.

    1. Mike Celestino

      I was alive when it opened. As I wrote in the article above, I was born in 1979. I was 5 years old when the movie came out. I grew up on The Goonies and loved it. I recognize its flaws, but I still really enjoy it every time I watch it.

      Your experiences are not everyone’s experiences.

      1. Surya Fernandez

        I completely agree with Mike. I’m a year older than him and just remember watching it endlessly with my sister and my friends over the years and all us always being entertained with it. I can’t wait to show it to my kids when they’re a little older too.

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