Southgate Shopping Center transforms into set for Disney movie

- Shoppers at Southgate Shopping Center might notice things are a little different this week. Signs are missing, green screens are going up, and park benches are being replaced with ones straight out of the '90s.

Hollywood has come to Lakeland to film Disney's “The One and Only Ivan," a story about a gorilla that escapes the mall where he lives in captivity.

Carol Marshall’s jewelry store is a part of the set.

“Our store is a Bowl-O-Rama," Marshall said. “That’s all I know. That’s why they’ve got bowling shirts and bowling equipment and trophies in our window.”

Faye Doppelheuer's boutique is closing while they film.

“We're told, by the end of the day, that we'll be turned into a video game arcade,” Doppelheuer said.

Despite the loss of working days, she thinks it’s great for business.

“Oh my gosh, it’s going to be awesome,” Doppelheuer said. “We are just welcoming them with open arms and people are coming down just to see what’s happening. Everybody asks me if I’m going to be in it, I don’t know about that, but we'll see you never know!”

This isn’t the first time Southgate's iconic arches were featured in a movie.

“Southgate is pretty lucky. We had 'Edward Scissorhands' here about 20 years ago,” Marshall said.

Marshall was here when it happened.

“It was a whole different thing. They didn’t do nearly as much prep work as they are having here,” Marshall said. “There were lots of people floating around. It just wasn’t to the extent that this is.”

Decades later, the cult classic still draws fans to Lakeland.

“We still get people in the parking lot coming to take pictures of the arch. So I’m hoping it will translate with this movie as well, that people will come to see where it took place and where they were doing it at,” Marshall said.

Southgate isn't the only location where Disney will be filming in Lakeland. Dixieland Elementary School, Silver Moon Drive-in, and a home on Palm Drive are also set to sets in the film.

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