If you're a true High School Musical fan, you should know by now that East High School is based on a real place. Part of the movie series was filmed at the Salt Lake City, Utah school, and they used its real name in the franchise. Now, East also serves as the backdrop for Disney's High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but in an even more meta way: in the show, the East students stage a production of the High School Musical movie, which was filmed at their (fictionalized) school.
In real life, East High School has become quite the tourist destination. School administrators told The Deseret News that in 2007, a year after the first HSM movie was released, 40 to 50 people were dropping by daily — much to the students' chagrin.
"So many people coming here and taking pictures. It kind of gets annoying after a while," Amber Lee, then a senior and drama club president, told the outlet at the time. The school's principal Paul Sagers, however, saw the bright side. "It's quite the buzz. The traffic has been unbelievable," he said, adding that the school's Parent Teacher Association was taking advantage of the attention by selling East High t-shirts. Later that year, East's own stage production of High School Musical debuted to a sold-out audience.
Today, dozens of fan-led tours through the high school can be found on YouTube, including the iconic cafeteria where multiple dance numbers took place, the gym where Troy got his head in the game, and the classrooms where students counted down to summer. When the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series cast learned that they, too, would film in the building, they were ecstatic.
"It was a dream filming at East High," Sofia Wylie, who plays Gina Porter on the show, told SpoilerTV. "That was actually one of the first days that I filmed and I had never been inside ... right before I walked in I was just so overwhelmed. I was like, 'My life is beginning.' It was the craziest moment."
Wylie's co-star Matt Cornett, who plays E.J., had similar feelings. "My first scene that I filmed was in the cafeteria, very first shot," he told SpoilerTV. "I didn't know it was possible to be starstruck by a building. But I was."