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  • Writer's pictureJulie

E.T. -- California and Florida Travel Tips

The story is set in California (LA and the Redwood State Park), but we didn't find the E.T. Adventure ride in Universal Studios Hollywood. It's in Universal Studios Orlando (Florida).

When we can't travel to California or Florida, sometimes a simple bike ride or trip to the candy store can give us a mini E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial adventure.

YouTube clip of the bike chase in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

When I was a college student, I traveled to California with friends and we scoped out a few of the locations where Spielberg shot key scenes. This was before the internet and GPS, so we counted on some local kids to show us glimpses into the world of E.T. and Elliot. Now there are several sites that offer addresses, photos, and directions.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Film Set locations:

I'd like to experience this E.T. adventure again. It could be a day tour of Los Angeles set locations or it could be the first day of a week-long road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway from Southern California to the Redwood Forests of Northern California with several stops along the way.

Pacific Coast Highway trips:

E.T. Phone Home

My favorite place for an E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial experience is at Universal Studios Orlando on the E.T. Adventure ride. Since Steven Spielberg had a hand in creating this park and ride, the sets and effects make it easy to ride into the film and receive a charming glimpse into the story that set the bar for science fiction fantasies.

The Places:

Crescent City, California

The story is set and filmed in California, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but the beautiful forest scenes were shot in Crescent City, California, at the Redwood National Park. Each time I watch the film, I want to take a road trip to the Redwoods. To visit all of the set locations, the 13-hour road trip would take us from Southern California up the coast almost to the Oregon border. With so many quaint cities and towns, gorgeous beaches, lush forests and interesting attractions along the way, I'd opt for a week-long road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.

Universal Studios Orlando, E.T. Adventure

Another Place to experience E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is Universal Studios Orlando at the classic ride, the E.T. Adventure. I remember enjoying the ride when the theme park had only a few rides among the Universal Pictures film sets and interactive tours. The park has expanded a lot since then and the E.T. Adventure may be lost to some. We purchased season passes to Universal Studios Orlando and Universal's Islands of Adventure in 2015, mainly to explore the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter and we spent most of our time at the newer rides. But one day, I wandered into the back side of Universal Studios and was delighted to find the E.T. Adventure ride. While in line, I watched the interview with Steven Spielberg (director of E.T. and co-founder of the park). When he spoke about Henry Thomas' audition and showed the boy's tearful portrayal of Elliot, I felt the tears well up and my anticipation for the ride increase. It's a charming ride. I think the enjoyment is enhanced by knowing the film plot, so it's a good idea to have the family watch it shortly before going to the park. (Pay special attention to the question they ask as you enter the ride and the interactive way they incorporate that exchange into the experience).

Elliott's trail for ET for follow

E.T. Food Tips:

When Elliot wanted to lead his new friend to his home, he left a trail of Hersey's Reese's Pieces through the woods and streets, along the driveway and into the house, and up the stairs to his room. Those little yellow, orange, and brown chocolate and peanut butter candy-coated gems remind me of E.T. and I think Reese's Pieces are a great treat to enjoy while watching the movie, traveling up the Pacific Coast Highway, or simply enjoying Universal Studios Orlando.

YouTube clip of Elliot leaving a Reese's Pieces trail for E. T. to follow:

Lodging Tips:

Our first choice for Orlando lodging is Paradise on Ice (okay, it's our vacation rental home, near Disney World and convenient to roads leading to all Orlando area attractions). For photos, details, and the calendar, visit

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