Since our decision to move, we have been asked a lot of questions. One was “Why Orange?” Often followed by “Why not LA?” There are a lot of answers to that question, some practical, and others rather superficial. First off, I adore Orange. During my many visits to California over the years we would often stop in to visit the plethora of antique shops in the Old Town area. The shopping is great and the buildings adorable. Two other reasons were job related. I was seeking a position with the Disneyland Resort (which was successful!), and wished for it to be easy and quick to get to, and if lucky enough, able to get to on transit as we are a one car household, not really doable if we were to be in Los Angeles. And where we are now, we are roughly five miles from the Resort. For the move, Patrick had to agree to go into the headquarters of the company he works for a few times a week. From Orange it’s roughly 45 minutes to an hour. If we were to be in LA, tack on at least another hour to that drive time. One of the more superficial answers is that much of my favorite movie, That Thing You Do! was filmed in Orange. While the opening scenes of That Thing You Do! are portrayed as taking place in Erie, Pennsylvania, it is in reality the Old Town portion of Orange that I love so much.
It’s been almost twenty years since Tom Hanks shot his film on the streets of Orange, and I had to look closely to spot out the store fronts, but I eventually found them and today I am sharing them with you! Like many films, the businesses seen and used in That Thing You Do! were largely fictional, but a few were in fact real places, and some of which are still in operation today.
In the title sequence of That Thing You Do! we see our protagonist, Guy Patterson as he aids customers at his family’s appliance shop, Patterson’s, we also see the lovely street where Patterson’s is located. This is Glassell, just north of the the roundabout (the “Plaza” or “Circle” depending on who you talk to) in the center of town.
The location of Patterson’s is today Tiddlywinks, a toy shop.
You will spy the tan and brown mosaic tile that is visible in the film is still intact today!
The easiest spot to notice, and visit in the way the characters of That Thing You Do! did is Watson’s Drug Store.
You won’t spot Watson’s by it’s gorgeous neon as seen in the film though, but instead by a blazing blue awning. But you can come in, grab a bite of classic American fare and, if you’re lucky, sit where either Guy or Faye and the other band members sat, debating what to name their band. Something I have yet to do, as each time I have visited patrons are already seated there.
January 2016 UPDATE: In late 2015, Watson’s got a new owner, and it underwent an extensive renovation and reopened in spring 2016. Sadly, it now looks nothing like it did in the film, as the new owners decided to try to turn the clock way back, as in 1899, when Watson’s opened. The menu also got a make-over. The upside? The the blue awning is gone, and the “Waton’s” portion of the neon has been restored.
July 2022 UPDATE: Sadly, Watson’s has closed. A new restaurant is slated to move in, and the owner of Watson’s is hoping to relocate to keep the name alive.
As the band continues to debate their name, T.B. Player and Chad play a game of leapfrog on the parking meters, only to end in Chad falling and breaking his arm.
This happens directly across from Watson’s at the corner of Chapman and Orange. You can see the corner of the Chapman Antique Mall to the left of T.B. Player, between him and Lenny.
While the band listens for their song on the radio, T.B. Player joins the military, and even outfits himself with an Ike jacket at the local Army-Navy Store.
As it was when Hanks filmed, it is still an Army-Navy store, offering surplus goods to civilians, though minus the large blue lettering.
Faye meanwhile is licking stamps as she listens for the song, only to almost swallow one as the song comes over the airwaves.
Today the dressed Woolworth is home to three businesses, including a comic book store. The mailbox no where to be seen, a prop I would assume.
Well that wraps up the Orange filming locations. But That Thing You Do! took place all over the country, with many locations were right here in California. I hope to visit them and share them with you another time!