“What is this place?”

“The town of Spectre. Best kept secret in Alabama!”

And best kept it is. Spectre is a fictional town that Edward Bloom stumbles into early in Tim Burton’s film ‘Big Fish’ (2003). The film was an adaptation of the book with the same name by Birmingham-born Daniel Wallace and is an ode to the tall tale; a whimsical remembrance of one’s journey through life. And as a daughter of a father with tall tale tendencies, a version I have grown to appreciate. You couldn’t tell me otherwise that it hasn’t played into my own tendencies of stumbling into experiences that make for good stories or letting my imagination slip into my day

The real town of Spectre is actually in a town called Millbrook, Alabama and sits on Jackson Lake Island, catching currents from the Alabama River.

 

The island has a few four-legged visitors full-time, but beyond the very real activities you can find on the island, it’s very much like your imagination coming to life when you come across the prop homes still standing from the film.

Big Fish Movie Set View 7
Big Fish Movie Set View 3

But, of course, the props don’t hold all of the magic of this island. Camping, fishing, picnicking, kayaking, and swinging out towards the river give this island real magic. Same as the iconic opening scene of the film, catfish and bass are common around the island. Sturdy live oaks draped in Spanish moss create an ethereal feel and catch the sunlight ever so nicely in the morning and evening. Wildlife appears to thrive around the quiet island, with a good handful of bird species enjoying their days.

Big Fish Movie Set View 5

It’s funny writing this, knowing that the few times I have shared the story of coming across this place the responses have been:

“Oh wow, I had no idea!” 

“Unbelievable!”

But the older I get, the more I like to enjoy the edge of the unbelievable in that context.

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