The hit Disney Channel trilogy High School Musical has been a hot topic recently as Wildcats everywhere are celebrating the Nov. 12 debut of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” on Disney Plus.
However, at East High School, this excitement never went away.
The iconic filming location at East High School in Salt Lake City still stands as a typical American high school, with a not-so-typical draw from tourists and HSM fans since its initial release in 2006. In fact, the Utah Office of Tourism compiled a four-day, four-night “High School Musical Itinerary” for visitutah.com. And more attention will surely come with “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” which dropped on Disney Plus this week.
On weekdays from 2:30-7 p.m., the East High School campus is open to visitors who can take a self-guided walk-through tour of the school, which provides maps that indicate the most important spots to hit, according to an East High receptionist.
Most recognizable of these spots are the red and white cafeteria, Sharpay’s pink lockers and the gym where Disney Channel stars performed “We’re All in This Together” almost 14 years ago.
East High School is also a suggested destination by locals and tourists of Salt Lake City on visitsaltlake.com and tripadvisor.com. Some people just like to take photos in front of the widely-recognized facade.
In 2018, East High was happy to welcome a new cast of members onto campus to film Disney Plus’ twist on the beloved series.
Although the campus was busy from the end of last year through the summer because of the show’s filming, the cast and crew have been “fantastic to work with,” according to East High School assistant principal Ken DeVries, who spoke to the Deseret News. “They’re very good to work with us. They’re doing everything they can to stay out of our way.”
And, of course, tourists frequent the campus.
“The majority are respectful,” DeVries said. “They are delightful people and are just thrilled to see where their favorite show is made.”
However, some overly-excited tourists “can get a little aggressive,” DeVries said. “It can be problematic.” And sometimes, the occasional tour bus makes a stop at East High School.
“That’s when it gets a little obnoxious,” DeVries said.
The Utah Film Commission is responsible for marketing Utah as a place for upcoming productions, and the group understands the value that filming popular entertainment in Utah has on supporting local talent and bringing tourism to Utah. East High School is no exception.
“Visitors still make special trips to Utah to see where ‘High School Musical’ was filmed, and we’re incredibly proud of its resonating impact with generations of young people,” Virginia Pearce, director of the Utah Film Commission, told the Deseret News when the new show first started production. “We’re thrilled to introduce a fresh take on this classic story and continue to support Disney’s production here in Utah.”
But, overall, the Wildcat legacy that has been left on East High School has been positive in DeVries’ eyes.
“I think that everything is shown in an upbeat, positive way, so I’m really not able to see an annoyance here or there as that big of a deal,” Devries said.