There’s a new Star Wars film in the works and fans and aficionados alike are looking to celebrate. From local tours to abroad excursions, there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the Star Wars theme, even when you’re on vacation. Here are a few ideas. Next
Of course, the franchise already has a presence in Disney Theme parks, where the Star Tours have been a staple since the ’80s at Disneyland (Check out the original ride here, and the modernized version here). The 3-D motion ride takes guests on a journey through some iconic “Star Wars” scenes, thrusting them into the action on screen.
At the Hollywood Studios version, at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., kids between the ages of 4 and 12 can participate in the Jedi Training Academy, a 20-minute training show that takes place adjacent to the ride. Participants will don Jedi robes and learn light saber skills in the event some Stormtroopers might show up (Spoiler alert: they do). Next
Star Wars Weekends
In addition to its Star Tours attraction, Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World periodically hosts “Star Wars Weekends” at the theme park. Weekends feature Star Wars celebrity autograph sessions, more than 50 characters—from Chewbacca to Darth Maul—from the movies roaming the park, and “Stars of the Saga,” a Q&A session with veterans of the films. Admission to Hollywood Studios is, of course, required to participate in the “Star Wars” events. Next
It’s possible to sleep in the very quarters inhabited by a young Luke Skywalker in “A New Hope.” The Sidi Driss Hotel in Tunisia, where George Lucas filmed the bulk of the scenes that would become the planet of Tatooine in the films (five of the six films include scenes on Tatooine, “The Empire Strikes Back” being the lone exception). The hotel has capacity for 145 guests in 20 rooms from only $10 a night, including breakfast.
The former home of Owen and Beru Lars is , of course, just one of many attractions to visit in Tunisia. Tunisia.com outlines a number of these filmed locations to visit including Lars’s homestead, where Luke looked to the two suns in the sky, “La Grande Dune,” where C-3PO and R2-D2 crashed in the beginning of “A New Hope,” and the site of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hut. The best time of year to make the trip is in either spring or fall, and visitors should plan on at least one week to make the “Star Wars” trip. Next
Guatemala and other filming locales
One doesn’t have to only visit Tunisia though to get a sense of “Star Wars” filming locations, which are located around the world. In Guatemala, visitors can witness the ruins of Tikal National Park, which was used to set the scene on the rebel base of Yavin in “A New Hope.” Excavated by Pennsylvania University personnel between 1956 and 1969, it remains the largest excavated site on the Americans continent.
Extra desert scenes for the film franchise that were not filmed in Tunisia took place in Death Valley, Calif. The National Park Service offers guided tours of the area from November through April. Also in California, the Redwood Forest was the site of the famous biker race scene in “Return of the Jedi,” in addition to the Battle of Endor. A variety of fan sites have maps and clues to guide you to the areas of the forest where Lucas and company most likely filmed. Next
Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination
More than 2 million visitors have experienced “Star Wars – Where Science Meets Imagination” since its inception at the Boston Museum of Science in 2005.
The exhibit explores how real-life technologies were applied in the films, along with many of the famous props used in production (how about seeing the original landspeeder?). Currently, the exhibit is at the Orlando Science Center through April 7, with a fall destination to be announced soon. Next
Located near Petaluma, Calif., just a short drive north of San Francisco, is Rancho Obi-Wan (pictured), a museum that houses the world’s largest privately owned “Star Wars” collection. Steve Sansweet, president and CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan Inc. and former fulltime Lucasfilm employee, amassed his massive collection over the course of 37 years, turning his passion for the film series into a second career.
The now retired Sansweet reorganized and expanded the museum after realizing that his collection had outgrown its original space. Rancho Obi-Wan is opened to the public, however tours must be booked in advanced.
The Star Toys Museum at Meerkat Meade in Linthicum, Md., also has a massive collection of “Star Wars” memorabilia, featuring over 12,000 items from the beloved sci-fi series. Like Rancho Obi-Wan, the Star Toys Museum takes visitors by appointment only. Next
Legoland California Resort
Guests at Legoland California can immerse themselves in scenes from the “Star Wars” movies, through displays made from 1.5 million Legos. The mini land features an underwater scene on Naboo, a Sandcrawler on Tatooine, and the Rebels getting caught in an Ewok trap on Endor.
The displays take a chronological path through the timeline of the films, from “The Phantom Menace” to the animated series “The Clone Wars.” Guests can also pose with life-sized Lego versions of some of the film’s most famous characters, including Darth Maul, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and Darth Vader. Next
Yoda statue in San Francisco
In the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge sits the instantly recognizable figure of Yoda, who graces the grounds of the Presidio, an urban park in San Francisco in a full-sized replica of the diminutive Jedi master. The statue and fountain sit just outside the entrance to the main entrance of the Letterman Digital Arts Center, and is a popular photo spot for all “Star Wars” enthusiasts. Next
Golden Gate Knights
After you check out San Francisco’s Yoda statue, head over to Levys Studio to learn some light saber skills from the Golden Gate Knights. The group, led by head instructor and martial arts enthusiast Alain Bloch, offers lessons on the basics of saber-wielding as well as stage choreography. Classes cost $10 per class and are held every Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Next
Palace of Caserta
This 18th century palace located in the city of Caserta in southern Italy has housed many different types of figureheads over the years, not to mention a certain queen from Naboo. The Palace of Caserta served as the setting for Queen Amidala’s (played by Natalie Portman, pictured far right) Royal Palace in “The Phantom Menace” and again as Queen Jamilla’s palace in “Attack of the Clones.”
While you are in Italy, take a trip up to the Villa del Balbianello next to Lake Como in northern Italy. The scenic, 18th century villa served as the clandestine location for the marriage between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala in “Attack of the Clones” and has become a popular wedding destination for real life couples as well. Next
Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit
The brainchild of creature effects make-up artist Nick Manley (better known as the artist who created Yoda and other memorable “Star Wars” characters), the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit is a small, nonprofit museum in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, that houses a lot of movie history. First opened in September of 2011, the exhibit contains many life-sized, “Star Wars” replicas on display, from the diminutive Jedi master Yoda to the evil Emperor Palpatine.
In addition to his large “Star Wars” collection, the museum also features displays from some of Manley’s other movie projects, including ”Highlander,” “Superman,” and more. Back to the beginning
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