This year hasn't been a great year for travel, but we did have the opportunity to make it out to Maine. Though, Maine is known for more as a spot for vacations by the ocean or a lake, it does have some great things to offer geeks who visit the state. That's especially true for horror fans, since it's the home of horror author Steven King. Mr. King has lived in Bangor most of his life, and has helped put the town on the map for the inspiration that it provided for stories like It, Pet Semetary, the Stand, and many others. We made the trip up to Bangor to check out SK Tours, a bus tour of the town that gives you the lowdown on the things that inspired some of your favorite Steven King films, places associated with Mr. King, film locations for his movies, and even shows you some of the amazing charity work that he and his family have done around town.
Our tour started when our driver, Jaimie picked us up in the tour bus. You can get picked up from most hotels in town, or arrange to be picked up from a commuter lot if you're driving up there. It was easy and convenient, and we started off near Bangor International Airport, which is where part of the TV series Langoliers was filmed back in the 90s. The tour continued along, with a bit of history about Bangor. We then stopped to see one of our favorite surprises of the tour--the spot along Mr. King's old walking path that inspired a major character from several of Steven King's major works. I'm not going to spoil it here, but it's something of a surprising story.
We went on next to the second oldest garden cemetery in the country, the Mount Hope Cemetery--a location that was prominently featured in the original "Pet Semetary" film. This is the site where Steven King himself officiates the funeral for Missy, and where Gage is buried and later dug up by his father. The cemetery is quite scenic and worth seeing in and of itself, but if you want to see this on the tour, be sure not to go during winter, when it is closed off due to the weather and the sloping terrain.
Next, we stopped by the waterfront along the Penobscot River to get a glimpse of some of the locations used in the filming of Graveyard shift--and to hear some very amusing behind the scenes stories from the filming. As well, we got to see the nearby children's hospital--one of the many places around town that the King family supports through their charity work. There are very many, given that the Kings do a lot for the town of Bangor, and the tour covers much of their amazing charity work.
Moving on, we saw some of the local flavor of Bangor, including some places associated with Steven and Tabitha King's personal history in the town. We even got to see the radio station owned by Steven King--the only thing in town to bare his name, which keeps rock music playing on the local airwaves for those of us who don't want to have to chose between 10 different country stations as we drive the state's many backroads (for this I would like to personally thank Mr. King). From there, after a quick break, we went on to see a lot of sites that were part of or inspired the
story or movie It. Not all tours get to see the barrens, but we were lucky enough to do so that day. We stopped off by Lover's Leap in Bangor, and saw the marshy area that served as the inspiration for Pennywise's stomping grounds. We then went into downtown Bangor and saw many of the places that inspired the fictional setting for It, Derry. Riding down the streets of downtown Bangor will very much make you feel like you're in the town of Derry seen in the 2017 and 2019 version of "It". Our tour guide even pointed out some sites that show up in the book and film.
Fans of "It" are probably in for the biggest treat on this tour, as it continued on and showed us several other sites from the book and movie. Fans of the book will recognize the water tower and get to see the nearby bench where Mr. King would often sit after going out for a walk. You'll get to see the massive Paul Bunyan statue that torments Richie in the book. We even got a glimpse of
the amazing Oriental Jade Chinese restaurant inspired the restaurant where the losers club meets up when they return to Derry. We drove through some of the poorer parts of Bangor, where the King family lived while Steven was a struggling author, where Beverly lived in the book. One of our favorite parts of the tour was the corner of Jackson and Union Streets, where a sewer grate inspired Steven King to have Pennywise stalk children from the sewer. Our tour guide even brought a clown head and arm so that we could all take pictures. Our other favorite part was getting to see the beautiful house where Steven and Tabitha King live, complete with wrought iron, spiderweb gates, topped with gargoyles.
This tour was amazing and well worth the $50 price tag if you're a fan of Steven King's work. We aren't even super-fans who have read every book or have seen every movie, but we still deeply enjoyed the tour and we're even thinking of going back to do it again, since the tour visits different locations and includes different information each time. The tour takes 3 hours and even includes a book that contains further information about Steven King and locations related to him around Bangor. If you're going to be in the area, plan to book the tour 6 months in advance, since it is very, very popular. If you don't have 6 months to plan ahead, you might get lucky and be able to fill in for a cancellation. The Covid-19 epidemic has been rough on SK Tours, and they are running smaller, limited tours due to travel restrictions. So, plan ahead if you want to go--and you definitely should if you love the work of Steven King.