Earlier this year, Survivor filmed two seasons in Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, which finished airing this past Wednesday night, and Survivor: Game Changers, the all-returnee season which premieres March 2017. But could Survivor be returning to Fijian shores so soon?
It’s no secret that production loved the location, with host and executive producer Jeff Probst, in particular, praising the many positives Fiji has to offer. In a live Facebook Q&A last month, Probst said that Fiji “is the ideal Survivor location” and that “if [he] could go there for the rest of [his] Survivor career, [he] would sign that deal right now.”
Well, maybe that deal was signed?
While this is yet to be 100% confirmed, it appears that production will be returning to Fiji next year to shoot seasons 35 and 36 of the long-running reality-game-show. According to various travel and tourism websites, the Mana Island Resort (which housed the production staff during filming earlier this year), is once again closed to the public between March-July 2017.
Back in August, TravelDaily.com.au sent out a newsletter to subscribers which included a snippet (see above) about Mana Island Resort and Spa being taken over by “a particular Production Company” between March 29 – July 6, 2017. While they couldn’t definitively say it was for Survivor, the March to July dates add up to the usual Survivor schedule. Filming for seasons 33 and 34 took place between the dates of April 4 and July 14, 2016 [filming was supposed to start in March but was delayed due to a tropical cyclone].
Soon after, other travel websites began reporting the same news. TourismFiji.com stated that the Mana Resort would be closed from March 29 to July 15, 2017, “due to the full use of the resort by a Production Company.” OurPacific.co.nz also confirmed these dates, adding that “the resort will not be available for stays by individual holidaymakers.”
The official Mana Island Resort & Spa website have not confirmed this news themselves, but a quick look at their booking calendar for those dates do indeed show that the resort is fully sold out.
If this news is accurate, and all signs point in that direction, it would make seasons 35 and 36 the fourth and fifth seasons, respectively, to be filmed in Fiji. Back in 2006, production set up on Vanua Levu to film the fourteenth season of the show, Survivor: Fiji, which aired on CBS in 2007. When they returned earlier this year to shoot seasons 33 and 34, the crew took up residence in the Mamanuca Islands. Survivor has reused locations in separate filming cycles before (Nicaragua for seasons 21/22 and 29/30 | Samoa for seasons 19/20 and 23/24), but this would be the first time since the Philippines (25-28) where production have filmed in the same country for consecutive cycles.
The question is, why Fiji again?
Well, a lot of the reasons are explained by Probst in the live Facebook Q&A. The logistics play a huge factor; Probst stated that Fiji “is super close to LA,” meaning the cast and crew can take a direct flight from LAX, and he also said it’s “super close to Australia where a lot of our crew is from.” Not only that, but there is “a big, good island that we can all live on,” referring to the aforementioned Mana Island Resort. It was well documented how harsh and unpleasant the conditions were in Cambodia last year (for seasons 31/32), so the ease and comfort Fiji provides is, of course, an excellent alternative.
Perhaps the most important benefit is the government. When filming in any location, production must receive permission from the local government; that can often be an arduous task, and it’s why many dream locations haven’t materialized in the past. But Probst said Fiji has a “great government to work with which is really important for us.” The report about Mana Island from TravelDaily.com.au also stated that the resort buy-out “was supported by the Fijian Government.”
Again, this information is not 100% confirmed, and it could possibly be for another production, Australian Survivor, for example, will be shooting a second season next year. However, the fact Survivor stayed at this same resort earlier this year, around the same months, is certainly suspicious. Inside Survivor will continue to look for further verification. Stay tuned to the website over the coming months.
UPDATE 02/05/17: Inside Survivor has received further confirmation that seasons 35 and 36 will film in Fiji.
What do you think about Survivor staying in Fiji? Does it mean more “theme” based titles next year? Should Survivor be trying to freshen up the locations? Or does it make sense to stay in one location? Let us know in the comments.