The movie takes its viewers to the suburbs of Cuesta Verde, California. It’s a fictional planned housing community in Southern California where a series of horrendous events occurred, frightening the Freeling family. However, the Poltergeist production actually took place in Agoura Hills and Simi Valley, California.
The neighborhood you see at the beginning of the movie is located in Agoura Hills. It’s a small suburban town in Los Angeles County and is one of the state’s best places to live today. On the other hand, the house where the Freelings family lives is in nearby Simi Valley, a small, vibrant city just about a 20-minute drive from Agoura Hills and 45 minutes from Los Angeles.
If you see the Poltergeist filming location and compare it to what was depicted in the film, it might seem almost unrecognizable unless you’re familiar with the place. That’s because the filmmakers made the area look like an over-developed space. But in reality, it’s a beautiful community surrounded by hiking trails, rolling hills, playgrounds, parks, and numerous historic oak trees.
Although the exterior shots were taken on location at an actual house, the crew also built a Poltergeist film set at MGM Studios in Culver City. This city in Los Angeles has also served as a setting for many movies and shows over the decades.
This movie was initially titled Night Skies and wasn’t supposed to feature evil spirits but evil aliens instead. Steven Spielberg, the film producer and writer, changed the idea over the years until he finalized the Poltergeist story.
The tree scene in Poltergeist
Rustling Oaks Dr & Hollow Oak Ct, Agoura Hills
In the movie's opening scene, you’ll see kids biking on a residential street and around a massive tree in the middle of the road. Even though it appeared quickly in the final part of the opening credit sequence, the tree is such a distinctive feature that it’s hard to miss.
This scene in Poltergeist was filmed in Agoura Hills. The tree featured here is the same as the one between Rustling Oaks Drive and Hollow Oak Court. But don’t expect to find the same tree when you visit the area or plan to bike around the tree in the middle of the road, or you’ll be disappointed. The big tree has since been removed, and new trees have been planted there in its place.
No buses pass by this area, so you’ll have to walk for a few minutes to get to the bus stop. Buses 161 and CE422 have routes that pass near Thousand Oaks/ Kanas Rd. From there, you’ll need to walk for about 15 minutes to get to the area.
The house hauntings scene in Poltergeist
Private House, Roxbury St. Simi Valley, California
No list of Poltergeist locations will be complete without mentioning the house, which was haunted by demonic ghosts, featured in the film. It’s inside this home that the youngest member of the family, Carol Anne, eerily announces, “They’re here,” after a violent tremor that wakes everyone up in the middle of the night. It signals the invasion of the vicious unearthly entities that will soon threaten the peace of the home.
If you want to go on a personal journey of experience and see the physical location of this famous horror house, you’ll have to go to Roxbury Street in Simi Valley, California. The actual house used in the film still looks a lot like the Freeling home. It isn’t as frightening as portrayed in the classic horror movie. In fact, anyone would probably never guess it’s the house in which the little Carol Anne was taken to the other side of the world.
However, keep in mind that the house is private property, so you can’t just barge in and take pictures inside the home. Perhaps, you can make a special trip here during Halloween for Trick-or-Treat; otherwise, you’ll have to respect the occupants. You can also explore the area or go on a walking or hiking trip, as it’s close to several trails. One of them is the Tapo Canyon Trail, a moderately challenging route for outdoor enthusiasts.
The fastest and most convenient way to get to the neighborhood is through a car or taxi. For public transportation, you’ll need to walk and take two to three buses to the city.
The cemetery scene in Poltergeist
Residential Neighborhood, 6126 Canterbury Dr. Agoura Hills, Ca
Halfway through the film, we’ll see Steve and his boss, Mr. Teague (James Karen), discussing a new housing division to be made. They walk by the hillside cemetery, and Mr. Teague directs Steve to the spot where they will build a housing development. “It’s right here where we’re standing. All of these can be your master bedroom suite,” Mr. Teague says, pointing to an existing old cemetery.
Steve’s boss says that they had done it before, building homes over a cemetery, digging up coffins, and moving them along with their headstones. Besides, “it’s not ancient tribal burial grounds; it’s just people,” as Mr. Teague reiterates. The ferocious spirits and the disturbing events in their home finally make sense to Steve after learning that much of Cuesta Verde was built in the area of the relocated cemeteries.
This particular filming location of Poltergeist looks different now from how it was depicted in the movie. When you visit the area, you’ll see a quiet neighborhood with nice houses with swimming pools. It’s a clean and safe area to walk around and close to several public parks. You can take buses 161 and 422 and walk to the location.
The meeting with the parapsychologists scene in Poltergeist
The University of California, Irvine, California
Frightened by the odd occurrences the night before and worried about their missing child, Steve goes to the University of California and meets with a group of parapsychologists. He recounts the series of events that have scared and tormented the family.
Then Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Straight) asks if the Freeling family would welcome “a serious investigation of the disturbances by someone who can make firsthand observations.” To this, Steve responds that he doesn’t care about those disturbances, as he just wants to find his little girl. So the team goes to the house to investigate the situation.
An exterior shot of the University of California appears on the screen, suggesting that the meeting with the parapsychologists takes place there. Founded in 1965, the University of California – Irvine is ranked the fourteenth best public university in the country. It is located in one of the most gorgeous, vibrant regions in Southern California.
The university takes pride in being at the heart of a lovely community brimming with world-class entertainment, pristine biking and hiking trails, destination beaches, and endless possibilities. Its proximity to arts and cultural facilities, amusement parks, and shopping also makes it a great place to discover while exploring the different Poltergeist locations.
You can visit the university during a campus tour and explore the ins and outs of the institution, which requires advanced registration. The most popular mode of transportation to get there is via train. You can take OCTA route 473 to UCI or 473 to North Campus if you’re coming from Tustin Metrolink Station. For those coming from Santa Ana Regional Transporation Center, it’s best to take route 59.
The biking scene in Poltergeist
Gleam Ct, Agoura Hills
One of the first characters that appear in the movie is Jeff Shaw (Dirk Blocker). He leaves his home on a bike with cans of drinks to take to the Freelings to watch a football game with the guys. The part where he’s seen leaving their driveway is located in Gleam Ct in Agoura Hills.
Later, it cut to Roxbury St. in Simi Valley, leading to the Freeling house. It’s where he dropped nearly half of the cans of beer because of the kids’ toy cars. He then shouts at them, “Get her in focus, boys!” before running to the house.
Perhaps, you can walk to Gleam Ct on your way to the tree in the middle of the road, as they’re only a short walk from each other. You may want to come down to Sumac Park and rest at this small neighborhood park or play at the outdoor recreation.
The Holiday Inn scene in Poltergeist
Ontario Airport Inn, Ontario, California
At the end of the movie, dead bodies and coffins explode from the ground, tearing the entire house apart. Furious, Steve grabs Teague by his collar and yells, “You moved the cemetery but left the bodies, didn’t you?!” Apparently, they only relocated the headstones and not the buried bodies, causing the evil spirits to go berserk and disturbing anyone who lived there.
Without a home to return to, the Freeling family checks into a motel for the night. However, before they settle in, they toss the TV set out of the room, getting rid of the source of all of their troubles.
The film’s final minute on the motel’s balcony was shot at a Holiday Inn. The motel’s location was a mystery for many years, with some sources claiming that it took place at a hotel in Westlake. But later, it was discovered that the motel with neon signs was the old Holiday Inn, now known as Ontario Airport Inn.
Since Ontario Airport Inn is located off the freeway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, it’s an ideal spot to stop by when visiting the City of Angeles. It is also only minutes from the Ontario International Airport, meaning you can take a taxi there without worries. It is complete with services and amenities for a convenient stay, including free WiFi. Plus, it is close to shopping malls, fine-dining restaurants, and dining places that deliver to the hotel.
As a classic haunted house horror film, it’s only natural that most of the scenes in the movie were filmed in and around Freeling’s home. Fortunately, the filmmakers were able to find a perfect house to serve as the setting for the horrifying sequences in Poltergeist at Roxbury Street in Simi Valley. Some interior scenes were also shot in a sound stage since they can’t really blow up a perfectly nice home for the film.
But it doesn’t mean that everything should be shot around the house. The cast and crews also used several indoor and outdoor locations, including a fictional cemetery and a university. They didn’t have to leave Southern California to capture the life of the family in the suburban neighborhood whose life was changed forever due to the horrors in their home.