By Courtney V.

Children of the 1980s are undoubtedly familiar with the 1984 fantasy, The Neverending Story. Based on the novel by Michael Ende, the film recounts the intertwined journey of Atreyu (“Noah Hathaway”) and Bastian (“Barret Oliver”) as they try to keep The Nothing from destroying the magical realm of Fantasia.

As a kid, I remember being completed enchanted by this world where the heroes are all children. The creatures that Atreyu encounters in Fantasia are so vivid and incredible, such as Falkor the Luck Dragon, that they captured my imagination.

When I learned that you could tour the studio where The Neverending Story was filmed, I knew that I had to add this onto my recent European vacation. The Bavaria Filmstadt is located on the outskirts of Munich, Germany and offers a tour of its various film sets, including a section devoted to The Neverending Story.

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The studio offers a guided English tour every afternoon. You begin with the 4D Wild West Mine Ride, which is similar in concept to Star Tours or some of the rides at Universal Studios. From there, you’ll take a walk through the studio and see some props and sets from recent movies (mostly German), and classics, like Das Boot. The Das Boot submarine is an exact replica of a German World War II era U-boat, and helps you imagine how people actually lived for months on end under the ocean in such a confined space. Then you get to The Neverending Story room. The tour guide flips on the soundtrack from the movie and turns on the blue screens. As you sit on top of Falkor, you can take pictures and see yourself flying on the screen – just like Atreyu and Bastian. There’s also the props for the magical gates at the Southern Oracle, Rockbiter, and the racing snail.

When you’re done with the tour, you can swing through the gift shop and pick up an Auryn necklace and a stuffed Falkor. The studio really needs to add more merchandise for the film – like a journal with Auryn on the cover, mugs, t-shirts, etc. All they have to do is look at Universal Studios and Disney to figure out how to do that. I don’t think there’s any product left in this world that hasn’t had a Frozen princess slapped on it.

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I won’t lie – it’s a geek dream come true to take a picture riding Falkor – and you probably won’t be the only one geeking out if you go. On my tour, most of the people were there for The Neverending Story. It’s super easy to get there. I don’t speak German, but I managed to find it using public transportation without any problems. Well, I did have one problem figuring out the “zones” on the Metro to see how much I needed to pay, but even the German who helped me found it confusing. I suggest just getting an all zone day pass. Then you won’t have to worry about it.

To get to the Bavaria Filmstadt by public transportation from Munich, you go to the Hauptbanhoff train station and take the Metro (Ubahn) U2 or U7 to Silberhorn str. When you exit the Metro, you emerge right at the tram stop. Take tram line 25 direction Grunwald, exit Bavariafilmplatz. The map in the tram lights up, so you can’t miss your stop. When you get off the tram, you’ll see the gates of the film studio straight ahead. You can’t go through that entrance, though. You will see signs for the cashier that direct you to the left. You then walk around the left side of the studio. There’s a forest on your left side and the studio on your right. There are posters and signs to show that you are heading in the correct direction. When you are done, just retrace your steps back to Munich (take the 25 tram direction Max Weber Platz to Silberhorn str. etc.) If you arrive a little early like I did, there’s a McDonald’s at the film studio with Wifi.

The Neverending Story part of the visit is short, it’s not like visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But for a kid who grew up watching The Neverending Story, it was completely worth the side trip.

For more information on the studio, including hours of operation and tour times, check out http://www.filmstadt.de. You can click the little British flag in the top right corner to switch it to English.

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