Arts and Culture

South Park Anniversary: 25 Real Colorado Locations From 25 Seasons

southpark.cc.com/Westword photo illustration
Last August, Trey Parker and Matt Stone joined Governor Jared Polis for a live discussion that was supposed to celebrate South Park's 24th season. But the Colorado natives had bigger things to celebrate: a $900 million deal with ViacomCBS to create six more seasons of South Park and fourteen movies drawing from the show for Paramount+ — one of the biggest talent deals in television history — as well as an actual agreement to purchase Casa Bonita, the pink eatertainment palace on West Colfax Avenue.

Now that South Park is marking a more impressive anniversary, Comedy Central is hosting a big birthday bash: the South Park 25th Anniversary Concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on August 9 and 10, when Parker and Stone will take the stage along with Primus and Ween. Primus frontman/bassist Les Claypool and Ween’s Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo) and Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman) have collaborated with Parker and Stone since the late ’90s; Claypool created the South Park theme song and included Parker and Stone in his mockumentary Electric Apricot, while Ween was included in season two's “Chef Aid,” in which the band played the song “The Rainbow” for a benefit concert. Parker and Stone’s own band, DVDA, was an opener for Ween in 1999 and 2000, and the comedic duo also directed the band’s music video for “Even If You Don’t.”

An immersive South Park exhibit in a shipping container — filled with all sorts of memorabilia, props, artwork, never-before-seen scripts, storyboards and South Park landscape backdrops for selfies — will be on hand for the Red Rocks shows before heading to McGregor Square (Denver's SoDoSoPa) on August 11 and 12, then travels to L.A.

But these hometown heroes will leave plenty to remember them by in Colorado. Stone grew up in Littleton and Parker in Conifer, raised by his mother, Sharon, and geologist father, Randy (the same names as Stan Marsh's parents). “South Park, to us, was always the place where you’d talk about UFO sightings. It was just this weird place at the time where not many people lived,” Parker told Polis. “It was the place we’d always talk about weird things happening, and we would go drive around and look for the government base…which we never found.”

Stone and Parker met in a film class at the University of Colorado Boulder in the early ’90s; by ’95, they'd moved to L.A. and made "The Spirit of Christmas," their first creation to showcase foul-mouthed fourth-graders Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick. The video went viral in the infancy of the Internet. At the time, the two were living in a studio apartment and sleeping on futons. After they pitched a half-hour cartoon series with the characters, South Park was finally picked up by Comedy Central, and the first episode aired on August 13, 1997. It was a major ratings success, particularly in the cable-only days, and within a year, advertisers were paying Comedy Central about four times more than they had for ads the previous year.

The inappropriate humor remained a constant; the show has been castigated by conservatives, leftists and everyone in between. They don't mean to offend, Parker and Stone said in the 2011 documentary 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park: "We just are sort of offensive people.”

After their Tony Award-winning musical, The Book of Mormon, debuted in 2011, the two started work on South Park's fifteenth season. The first episode was "HUMANCENTiPAD," in which Kyle is forced into the middle of a "human centipede" after signing iTunes terms and conditions, which dictate: "By clicking Agree, you're also acknowledging that Apple may sew your mouth to the butthole of another iTunes user."

Broadway clearly didn't go to their heads or get them to behave any better, thankfully. Although they didn’t reveal themselves as the creators at first, Parker and Stone were behind the viral deep-fake video "Sassy Justice," which used deep fakes of politicians such as Al Gore and Donald Trump to not only showcase the dangers of deep fake, but to make fun of politicians, as well.
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Stan Marsh, Kenny McCormick, Kyle Broflovski and Eric Cartman.
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Their profane efforts have been rewarded with numerous lawsuits, and you can no longer stream several episodes of South Park, including "200" and "201," which both lambasted multiple celebrities who had taken offense at the show and illustrated the prophet Muhammad, causing an uproar among fundamentalist Muslims and religious activists. And in their conversation with Polis, Stone said that if Colorado were to have a South Park mascot, it would be Towelie, the drug-addicted sentient towel who can’t function without getting high.

Parker and Stone frequently return to Colorado to visit friends and family, and they told Polis that they would still live here if they could. In 2016, a New York Times analysis unsurprisingly found that most of South Park's fans are from the duo's home state.

And why not? You can't watch the show without catching references to Colorado. In honor of South Park's 25th season, here are 25 places in the state that have been highlighted. Fair warning: We can't promise you’ll see “friendly faces everywhere” or “humble folks without temptation.”

Fairplay
Too many episodes to count, maybe
While Parker and Stone haven’t said it themselves, the general consensus is that Park County's Fairplay is the town in which South Park takes place. If you created the setting and architecture of Fairplay out of construction paper, it would look almost identical to the hometown of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny. And you can certainly find plenty of South Park merch, including models of those characters, at shops around town.
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Cartman tries to kill Kyle at Stark's Pond in "Toilet Paper."
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Stark’s Pond
"Cartman Gets an Anal Probe," S1, E1
"Jakovasaurs," S3, E4
"Here Comes the Neighborhood," S5, E12
"Butters’ Very Own Episode," S5, E14
"
Toilet Paper," S7, E3
"Grey Dawn," S7, E10
"Casa Bonita," S7, E11
"The Jeffersons," S8, E6
"Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes," S8, E9
"You’re Getting Old," S15, E7
"A Boy and a Priest," S22, E2
Another reason that people believe Fairplay is the town's muse is that it's home to Stark’s Pond, and the South Park characters often visit a spot with the same name, starting with the premiere episode. It's where they discover the annoying Jakovasaurs in season three, where Butters's mother tries to drown him in season five, where a fictional Walmart is built in season eight, and where Butters goes fishing with Father Maxi in season 22. While the real Stark’s Pond may not hold the dead victim of an old person's driving mishap in "Grey Dawn," it definitely looks similar to the fictional site.
The South Park creators immortalized Casa Bonita in a 2003 episode...and now own it.
South Park
Casa Bonita
"Casa Bonita," S7, E11
"201," S14, E6
"South ParQ Vaccination Special,"  S24, E2
The “Disneyland of Mexican restaurants,” as Kyle calls it, first appears in season seven, when Kyle has his birthday party at the pink palace and Cartman is enraged he wasn't invited. Cartman then traps Butters in a bomb shelter so that he can join the party in his stead. In the now-pulled episode "201," the restaurant is destroyed by a giant robot of Barbra Streisand. Casa Bonita’s last appearance came in the "Vaccination Special," when the restaurant reopened its doors after the pandemic shutdown. The real Casa Bonita has yet to make that comeback — but it will soon, since Parker and Stone purchased the place a year ago.
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Jimmy saves a sex worker in "Colfax Point."
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Colfax Avenue
"Erection Day," S9, E7
"Butters’ Bottom Bitch," S13, E9
"My Future Self ’n’ Me," S6, E16
Colfax Avenue first appears in season six, when Stan meets his “future self” — who turns out to be an actor from a business called Motivation Corp., located at 3451 Colfax Avenue, that's part of a scheme by parents to keep their kids from using drugs.

In season nine, Jimmy is excited to do his comedy routine at the talent show, but stiff challenges arise when he discovers that his hormones are setting in, and he's terrified his penis will become erect during his performance. After Butters tells him he needs to have sex to get rid of it, Jimmy consults Officer Barbrady, who suggests that he go to the red-light district of “Colfax Point,” where Jimmy meets a prostitute named Nut Gobbler.

Although the street isn’t mentioned in season thirteen’s "Butters’ Bottom Bitch," the Playas Ball where Butters meets other pimps certainly seems to be located on the notorious street. And Colfax gets a nod in several other episodes, including season nine’s “Bloody Mary,” when one of Randy’s AA buddies declares that he is healed from alcoholism and shouts, “No more blowing guys on Colfax Avenue for a pint of vodka for this cowboy!”
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Jimmy and Timmy accidentally join a gang.
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Five Points
"Krazy Kripples," S7, E2
Jimmy and Timmy (the inclusive characters added to South Park before such things were necessary in order for shows to be picked up) create a club for disabled kids called the Crips, but realize there already is such a group. The two make their way to Five Points to meet the gang, and join it after unwittingly blowing up a gas station where the rival Bloods are hanging out.
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Al Gore and the boys search for ManBearPig at Cave of the Winds.
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Cave of the Winds
"ManBearPig," S10, E6
In one of the most well-known South Park episodes, Al Gore comes to South Park to warn everyone about ManBearPig (climate change). In exchange for a day off of school, the boys agree to help Gore hunt down the beast at Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs, where they're trapped in a cave-in after Gore mistakenly confuses the wind-like sounds for MBP and fires a gun. The episode aired in 2006, when many people were still doubting the authenticity of climate change; Parker and Stone note that MBP is all too real in the season 22 episode “Time to Get Cereal.”
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Cartman's new binder causes chaos on Cheyenne Mountain.
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Cheyenne Mountain
"Trapper Keeper," S4, E12
Cheyenne Mountain is a key setting in this episode, in which Cartman is very excited about his “Dawson's Creek Trapper Keeper Ultra Keeper Futura S 2000,” a new binder whose features include an electronic pencil sharpener, a music player, a flat-screen TV and photos from Dawson’s Creek. A man who attempts to steal the Trapper Keeper (and sleeps with Cartman's mom) turns out to be a robot from the future sent to destroy Cartman’s binder because it has the ability to wipe out humanity. After the robot breaks into Cartman’s computer and becomes one with Cartman himself, it goes to a secret military base inside Cheyenne Mountain to break into the government's system. Because the robot looks so much like Cartman, Kyle has a difficult time differentiating between it and Rosie O’Donnell, who has also come to town.
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Stan Marsh is harassed and called Stan "Darsh" by skier Tad.
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Aspen
"Asspen," S6, E2
"If you French fry when you're supposed to pizza, you're gonna have a bad time." Another fan favorite, “Asspen” focuses on a ski trip that the boys take with their parents. While the parents attempt to escape time-share salesmen, Stan is just trying to have fun skiing without being harassed by adult ski bros who end up challenging him to a race. At stake if Stan loses: Ski bro Tad’s father will bulldoze the Aspen Youth Center. The race occurs on the most dangerous trail, K-13, but Stan isn’t deterred — even when a mysterious man tells him that 35 people have died on the run, that it’s home to an Indian burial ground occupied by vampires who eat children, and that a “wolf boy” murdered a group of students there after escaping from an asylum.
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The Detroit Red Wings don't cut the South Park Pee-Wee team any slack.
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Ball Arena
"Stanley’s Cup," S10, E14
"The Ring," S13, E1
"W.T.F.," S13, E10
"Cartman Finds Love," S16, E7
"Taming Strange," S17, E5
"#REHASH," S18, E9
This Denver venue, formerly known as the Pepsi Center, has been in several episodes. In season ten, the Park County Pee-Wee Hockey Team fills in for the Colorado Avalanche, only to be shown no mercy by the Detroit Red Wings. In “The Ring,” Kenny takes his new girlfriend to a Jonas Brothers concert at the venue in hopes that he will be able to seduce her. And that isn’t the only concert celebrated on South Park: Kyle takes his brother, Ike, to see Yo Gabba Gabba in “Taming Strange,” and in “#REHASH,” Stan’s sister, Shelly, attends a “Women of Rock” concert, where none of the performers are rockers. The boys also attend a WWE wrestling event there in “W.T.F.,” and they catch an NBA game in “Cartman Finds Love.”
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No kid is happy playing baseball, even at Coors Field.
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Coors Field
"Professor Chaos," S6, E6
"The Losing Edge," S9, E5
When the boys fire Butters as their new friend — unleashing Butters’s evil villain side, Professor Chaos — they enlist the British character Pip to join them at a baseball game at Coors Field to see if he'll make a suitable replacement. Cartman kicks Pip out when he asks for tea and crumpets from ballpark vendors. It's a season six classic.

In "The Losing Edge," we see how the South Park Little League team is suffering from playing such a boring sport. But with every team in the Little League also trying desperately to lose, South Park ends up playing Denver’s Little League team in the state finals at Coors Field. Randy doesn’t let the boys’ boredom stop him from getting drunk and fighting other Little League dads.
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The Capitol is seen in multiple episodes.
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Colorado State Capitol Building
"Free Hat," S6, E9
"Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow," S9, E8
"Follow That Egg!," S9, E10
"Eat, Pray, Queef," S13, E4
South Park may be the only series that dedicates an episode to comparing queefs and farts, and the debate ends up at the Colorado Capitol in "Eat, Pray, Queef." But the gold dome is first seen in season six, when Stan, Kyle, Tweek and Cartman form the club “Save Films From Their Directors” after seeing multiple edits of The Empire Strikes Back. They make a poster with the words “Free Hat” to encourage people to join the club, but many people begin showing up because they believe it is a group campaigning to free Hat McCullough, a character who is in prison for killing 23 babies. The McCullough proponents make their way to the Capitol, where they argue that the murderer was acting in self-defense.

Randy and fellow geologists meet at the Capitol to speak about a global-warming emergency in “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow,” after Stan and Cartman accidentally break the world’s largest beaver dam, causing a town to flood. The Capitol is also seen in background shots of the South Park streaming movies Post Covid: The Return of Covid and parts one and two of The Streaming Wars.
Governor Bill Owens was not saved from mockery in "Follow That Egg!"
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Governor’s Mansion
"Follow That Egg!," S9, E10
Mr. Garrison is reeling from the news that his ex-boyfriend, Mr. Slave, is engaged, so he visits then-Governor Bill Owens in an effort to get him to deny gay marriage. But Owens wants scientific proof to back the decision, so Mr. Garrison has his students split into teams of two to act as parents to an egg, and pairs Kyle and Stan together. Although he believes the two will destroy the egg and thus prove that two men wouldn’t be fit parents, the egg survives — even after Mr. Garrison hires an assassin to kill it outside the Capitol.
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City Hall is only shown briefly, but it leads the boys to Al Gore.
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Denver City and County Building
"Time to Get Cereal," S22, E6
When the boys realize that Al Gore was correct about ManBearPig, they set off to Denver to find him. They ask a receptionist in City Hall whether she’s seen him, only to be redirected to a bowling alley. Spoiler alert: Nobody gets “cereal,” though the boys are able to get through to Satan by reminding him how much people provide him each year.
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Funnybot is buried at Warren Air Force Base.
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F.E. Warren Air Force Base
"Funnybot," S15, E2
When Jimmy hosts a comedy awards show, Germany is angered that the country receives the award for Most Unfunny People. So the Germans create a robot called Funnybot, which comes to South Park and then becomes famous nationwide, making comedians — from Jimmy to Adam Sandler — fear for their careers. When the boys discover Funnybot plans to obliterate the world as its final joke, they find a loophole to disable the robot. They are later joined by the Germans, comedians and Barack Obama at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, where they bury Funnybot and, accidentally, Tyler Perry.
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Four Mile Historic Park is where the South Park elementary students go on a field trip.
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Four Mile Historic Park
"Super Fun Time," S12, E7
While Four Mile Historic Park isn’t identified by name, it’s hard not to miss the frontier setting and historic re-enactors during the school field trip in "Super Fun Time." Fortunately, the real Four Mile House volunteers aren’t likely to repeat what the re-enactors in this episode do: refuse to break character, even when the park is taken over by robbers trying to crack a modern safe and holding everyone hostage until they get the code — something frontiersmen would know nothing about.
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Cartman asks the dean of UCB whether he would be interested in trading athletes.
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University of Colorado Boulder
"Crack Baby Athletic Association," S15, E5
Parker and Stone’s alma mater makes a bumpersticker when hippies take over South Park before Cartman drives them out in season nine favorite “Die Hippie, Die.” But it gets a starring role in season fifteen, when Cartman creates a nonprofit called the Crack Baby Athletic Association after he sees a commercial styled in the form of the emotionally manipulative Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials, but with crack babies instead of puppies. He makes a business out of it by recruiting unwanted babies to play “crack baby basketball,” in which they fight over a ball of crack cocaine, and Kyle joins the operation, saying they're not exploiting the crack babies, but giving them opportunities to be famous. (The episode aired in 2011, when there was an uproar over college athletes not getting paid while their images were sold.) Cartman ends up proposing a trade deal to the dean at CU — a scene that takes place in the dean’s office — but is swiftly castigated and told to leave after he keeps referring to student athletes as “slaves."
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Scott Tenorman convinces Cartman that he'll make money off of pubes at a fair in Fort Collins.
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Fort Collins
"Scott Tenorman Must Die," S5, E4
"The Losing Edge," S9, E5
"Fort Collins," S20, E6
"Oh Jeez," S20, E7
Fort Collins first shows up in the famed episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die,” when Scott tricks Cartman into going to the city for a “pube fair.” The South Park Little League baseball team also plays the Fort Collins team in “The Losing Edge.”

And Fort Collins is included twice in season twenty, when the Danish government feuds with Internet trolls and creates the website TrollTrace. The tracker finds Gerald Broflovski’s partner in crime, the troll Anthony Webster, in Fort Collins. After the Danes release the entire city’s Internet history for everyone to see, the city builds a wall surrounding it to prevent such an incident from happening again. In several aerial shots, Fort Collins is festooned with hot-air balloons, random tall buildings and a surrounding mountainscape.
LoDo
SoDoSoPa, which is showcased throughout season nineteen and onward, looks like a familiar section of any burgeoning city climbing the gentrification ladder. But this is definitely LoDo. Kenny’s impoverished house is surrounded by newly constructed buildings filled with wine bars and organic markets, advertised through photos of beaming, multi-racial groups of friends holding their glasses in a “cheers” mid-laugh. Randy petitions for a Whole Foods, where he is later shamed for not giving donations to African orphans.
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A turf war over teeth begins in Cherry Creek.
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Cherry Creek
"The Tooth Fairy's Tats 2000," S4, E1
Cartman gets greedy after receiving $2 from the tooth fairy, and he, Stan and Kyle (who've already lost their baby teeth) recruit Kenny and others to give Cartman their teeth so that he can put enough under his pillow to buy a Sega Dreamcast. When Cartman’s mom breaks the news that the tooth fairy is fake and she’s given him all the money she has, Stan comes up with the idea of hiding a tooth under a “really rich kid’s” pillow and taking that money. They take a bus to Cherry Creek, which Stan calls “the richest part of Denver,” adding that the kids there “probably get at least $10 a tooth from the tooth fairy.” Turns out they aren't the only ones with that idea.
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The Catholic Cleanup Crew goes from Denver to South Park.
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Archdiocese of Denver
"A Boy and a Priest," S22, E2
This episode aired in 2018, when the Catholic Church was facing yet another round of scandals regarding inappropriate sexual behavior by its priests. Stan finds out that his parents and other adults in town only go to church so they can mock Father Maxi with Catholic priest jokes. Father Maxi locks the church on subsequent Sundays, and when Butters takes pity on the priest and begins hanging out with him, the townspeople are confused. School counselor Mr. Mackey calls the archbishop, who is seen at the Archdiocese of Denver, and tells him that Father Maxi has gone missing. The archbishop assures Mr. Mackey that there’s nothing “suspicious” going on and requests he not call the authorities. After hanging up, the archbishop calls the “Catholic Cleanup Crew,” which is responsible for clearing up priests’ semen. (No, nothing happens between Father Maxi and Butters.)
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Randy is set on stopping a Broadway musical.
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Ellie Caulkins Opera House
"Broadway Bro Down," S15, E11
The Ellie plays a role in the unforgettable "Broadway Bro Down," when Randy discovers that Broadway musicals not so subtly encourage women to give blow jobs. Turns out that theatrical masterminds ranging from Stephen Sondheim to Andrew Lloyd Webber to Elton John are just a bunch of frat bros who hang out at Hooters, and after a "bro down," they join forces with Randy to help him with his musical, The Woman in White. But when Randy discovers that his daughter, Shelley, is being taken on a date to a Broadway show, he charges the Ellie dressed as Spider-Man, swinging from its bizarre chandelier.
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DIA is shown multiple times in the series.
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Denver International Airport
"The Entity," S5, E11
"Freak Strike," S6, E3
"Hell on Earth 2006," S10, E11
Denver International Airport's first appearance is in “The Entity.” The episode begins at the airport, where Mr. Garrison is trying to navigate security lines and misses his flight, leading him to rail about a $15 billion bailout taxpayers provided for airlines. He decides to create his own homoerotic device called “IT” that “beats dealing with airline companies,” despite the multiple penetrations required to operate it.

“Freak Strike" is Butters's first episode as a replacement Kenny, and the boys have him attach testicles to his chin so that he can get famous on TV with other disfigured people used by shows such as Maury to boost ratings. DIA appears only briefly, when Butters is shipped out on the talk-show circuit and joins the “freaks” in their union efforts.

In “Hell on Earth 2006,” which revolves around a Sweet Sixteen party for Satan, DIA pops up when the boys try to take Biggie Smalls to Los Angeles.

Of note: DIA is home to a real City Wok, the imagined Chinese restaurant that is owned by an ostensibly Chinese man, Tuong Lu Kim, who ends up being Butters’s murderous white psychiatrist with multiple personality disorder. The food at the airport's City Wok is just as bad in real life as it's portrayed in the show.
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Cartman is seen at the Airport Hilton on a mission to destroy non-gingers.
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Airport Hilton
"Ginger Kids," S9, E11
"Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy," S10, E10
"Tonsil Trouble," S12, E1
"The Coon," S13, E2
"200," S14, E5
"Ginger Cow," S17, E6
"Wieners Out," S20, E4
"Douche and a Danish," S20, E5
The Airport Hilton — which in reality is a DoubleTree by Hilton with a shuttle to DIA — is an integral setting in numerous episodes. Whether it’s used by ginger kids getting ready to murder non-gingers in the “Sunset Room” or serves as the venue for Cartman’s AIDS benefit concert, this is where multiple memorable scenes happen.
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South Park citizens watch the news, which shows the Pope visiting the statue at St. Mary of the Rockies.
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St. Mary of the Rockies
"Bloody Mary," S9, E14
Catholicism is the target of South Park yet again. While the church is called St. Peter’s in this episode, it is unmistakably St. Mary of the Rockies in Bailey (not far from Conifer, where Parker grew up). You can tell by the white statue of the Virgin Mary, seen IRL outside the rectory, which begins to spout blood from her backside and inspires pilgrimages to the site. Randy visits with Stan, hoping to be cured of his alcoholism through the blood.
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Coney Island Boardwalk is Cartman's new home.
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Coney Island Boardwalk
"City People," S25, E3
Colorado and South Park converge again in the show's last season, when Eric Cartman and his mother are forced to move into a hot dog-shaped home that is identical to the Coney Island Boardwalk hot dog stand in Bailey. The hot dog stand, which was originally located on West Colfax Avenue when it was built in 1966, went up for sale this spring for $1.5 million.

It would look swell standing next to Casa Bonita.

The South Park 25th Anniversary Concert, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 9, and Wednesday, August 10, at Red Rocks. Although the shows are sold out, the concert will be streamed on Paramount+.
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Emily Ferguson is Westword's Culture Editor, covering Denver's flourishing arts and music scene. Before landing this position, she worked as an editor at local and national political publications and held some odd jobs suited to her odd personality, including selling grilled cheese sandwiches at music festivals and performing with fire. Emily also writes on the arts for the Wall Street Journal and is an oil painter in her free time.
Contact: Emily Ferguson