Dexter Filming Locations: Paul's Playground


The location: Paul's Playground.

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

    A. A children's playground area, with slides and playground equipment.

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

    A. In Miami. Perhaps at a park, perhaps at a school.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 8 (Season 1), "Shrink Wrap".

    Dexter's girlfriend, Rita takes her two children to meet her ne'er-do-well ex-husband (their father) for a supervised visit.

    But when she gets to the playground, the court-appointed supervisor isn't there. Paul says she phoned and cancelled.

    Rita reminds him that he isn't allowed to have unsupervised visits with the kids.

    He then tries to talk her into hanging around so they can be with the kids together.

    She says she has a date with Dexter. But the kids are eager to play at the playground and they start begging her, so Rita gives in, saying she will cancel the date with Dexter.

    Paul is pleased.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A real playground area, but not in Miami.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. The playground equipment is behind a chain link fence at a school: Prisk Elementary School, located at 2375 Fanwood Ave, in Long Beach, CA.

    The colorful playground equipment is located near the northeast corner of the school grounds.

    The school is in what I call "The Dexter Neighborhood", because they have filmed so many scenes there.

    This is the same school where we see a young Dexter (in a flashback) try to kill a school bully during recess (in the very same episode). It's also a stone's throw away from the spot where the "Ice Truck Killer" stops his car to check on his victim (Debra) in his car trunk (in the season one finale).

    The school is also just blocks away (east of) Rita's house, Angel's house, Dexter's childhood home, and the Dade City house Dexter inherits from his biological father.

    Here is an aerial photo of the school, with the playground equipment marked.  And here is a map link.

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

    A. I didn't. I had help on this one, from Kerry (the same fan who tipped me recently about the location of the hot dog stand where Deb & Rudy had their first date).  (Thanks again, Kerry!)

    When I originally went looking for the location, I ruled out Prisk early on because their playground equipment (as seen in Live Local's Birds-Eye-view aerial photos) was the wrong color - it didn't match the set seen on Dexter.

    But it turns out that a new (second) set of playground equipment was installed sometime around 2006. It's color matches the Dexter set, but it doesn't appear in the older aerial photos I was using - because they were shot before it was installed. Some of the more recent photos do show the new set, which is located just a few yards southeast of the old one.

    ( I can't rule out the possibility that Dexter's producers might have paid for the new equipment, as partial compensation for using the school as a filming location. But I don't know whether that's true - only that the appearance of the equipment seems to roughly coincide with the filming of the first season. )

    Other matching features include the freeway wall in the background (with an unusual slant at the top), the buildings in the background, the trees, and even a handball court seen behind Paul.

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