Dexter Filming Locations: Santa's Holiday Adventure

DEXTER Filming Locations - hundreds of actual places where the TV show Dexter was filmed.

The location: Santa's Holiday Adventure

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A Christmas-themed amusement park (similar to the old Santa's Village in Southern California).

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Just outside of Miami.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 6, of Season 7, "Do the Wrong Thing".

    Hannah McKay tells Dexter that one of the things that drew her to run away with serial killer Wayne Randall, was that he promised to take her to "Santa's Holiday Adventure", the only place in Florida to see snow - and she was obsessed.

    Dexter, planning to kill Hannah (he has discovered that she has murdered several people), asks her out on a date.

    He surprises her by taking her to Santa's Holiday Adventure - at night.

    The place is closed for the season, but Dexter breaks in, and the two stroll around the dark, deserted amusement park.

    Eventually, they come to a Santa's throne room, where Dexter turns on the lights and starts up a snow machine, creating a Winter wonderland scenario.

    Hannah is enthralled and joyous.

    But just as she blisses out, Dexter jabs her in the neck with his usual hypodermic.

    She wakes up tied naked to Dexter's table (still inside the Santa room). Showing his knife, he reveals his true self.

    Hannah is surprisingly calm, facing death. 

    Looking him in the eye, she says: "Do what you've gotta do."

    Dexter raises his knife, about to plunge it into her chest... when suddenly he uses that knife to cut her loose. And they wind up having passionate sex on that same table.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A beach parking lot.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This is a stretch of Long Beach along Ocean Blvd, near La Verne Avenue.

    (That's just five short blocks northwest of Bayshore Park, where they filmed the scene of Hannah's flower mart, as well as the scene of Angel's beach café.

    The Dexter crew created this Christmas "amusement park" from scratch.

    They brought in a real carnival (with lots of rides), set it up on the parking lot of a south-facing beach, then built the giant Santa sign/entrance you see at the start of the scene.

    That big sign faced north, inland, towards Ocean Blvd.

    It marks the second time this season that the producers built a set on location from scratch. (The first being the Frosty Swirl restaurant, from Episode 1.)

    That's rare for Dexter, which usually just shoots on location (when it's not in the studio) and limits itself to redecorating the location a bit to make it look more like Miami.  They don't often build structures on location.

    I shot the photos below in July 2012.

Here is an aerial photo of the location.  Here is a Google StreetView.
  And here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A.  In the early seasons, I usually had to hunt down the locations after viewing the episodes, using clues from the various scenes.  By the now, though, I've developed a small group of fans, spies & tipsters who kept an eye out for Dexter filming in their neighborhoods, and would let me know in advance when something was about to film there.

    Between those reports, my own personal reconnaissance around town, and a few new resources I discovered, by the time the first episode airs, I already know most (but not all) of the filming locations, and only need to watch the episodes and match up the scenes with the correct locations.

    This group of helpful fans includes Rick, Ellen, Elaine, Mia, Joel, Susan, Eric, Jeff, Kerry & others. My thanks to all of them.

    I knew that they were going to be filming on the beach in the area, so I drove past the beach to take a look, and was rather shocked to see the giant Santa's Holiday Adventure gate that you see in my photo above.  (You just don't expect to find a giant Christmas display on the beach in July...)

    One thing that's a bit of a shame is that the carnival they brought in was rather elaborate, and even included an alligator-themed ride, no doubt chosen because of the supposed Florida locale.  Yet because the scene was a night scene, and the establishing shot rather brief, viewers barely got to see much of that carnival (let alone the alligator ride).  All that detail, mostly gone wasted...

    When I was growing up, there was a similar Christmas-themed amusement park up in the San Bernardino Mountains, near Los Angeles' Lake Arrowhead, called "Santa's Village", offering year-round visits to the North Pole, complete with Christmas-tree rides, Santa's house, and live reindeer.  I always wanted to go there as a kid, but never got the chance. Here are a lot of photos of that old park.  (It's gone now.)

    I assumed it inspired "Santa's Holiday Adventure".  But maybe not.

    I also thought that the local "Santa's Village" was probably the only Christmas park of its kind, but I just Googled the subject, and came up with a number of similar Santa parks (past & present). Turns out that L.A.'s "Santa's Village" had franchised, and built similar "Santa's Villages" in Santa Cruz, CA and in East Dundee, Illinois.  And there have been a number of independent Christmas parks around the country, including: "Holiday World" in Santa Claus, Indiana, "Santa's Workshop" in Colorado Springs, "Santa's Land" in Cherokee, NC. 

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