The passion that Star Wars has generated is a lot like the Force itself: it surrounds us and penetrates us, and quite possibly — binds the galaxy together. From reading the comics to splashing out on memorabilia, and even exchanging thoughts on social media about the highly anticipated new film, there’s so much sci-fi fun to be had by Star Wars fans everywhere! But you don’t have to go on an intergalactic adventure to realize the power of the force. You can practice a Jedi mind trick or two right here on planet earth at these out-of-this-world locations.
May the force be with you…
Star Wars CelebrationA Mecca for Star Wars fans, the Star Wars Celebration is an ode to everything that makes our favorite galaxy far, far away so special. What began in 1999 as a celebration of the release of Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace has turned into a recurring event that celebrates special franchise-related events, like anniversaries or the release of a new film. For over four days, mega fans relish in panels, previews, autograph signings, workshops, as well as many, many opportunities for dressing up and repeating favorite quotes. The event has been held in several different locations from Germany and Los Angeles to Florida and the United Kingdom. But you’ll want to book tickets as early as you can to ensure you get in. If you find round trip flights under $200 to the Star Wars Celebration’s next location ahead of time, you’ll be better able to secure your spot.
Mos Espa, TunisiaTunisia is recognized as the stand-in for Tatooine amongst Star Wars fans. Everything from a young Luke working the moisture farms to Shmi Skywalker’s funeral has taken place in this North African country. Out of all the attractions to see here, none are as highly rated as Mos Espa. The set was built in the middle of the desert and still stands today. While there are no roads that directly lead there, most hotels offer transportation to and from the site. Once there, you can see the whole town, from the Pod-racing arena, the Mos Espa streets with Watto’s shop, and even the market where Sebulba threatens a glutenous Jar Jar! If you arrive early, you can have the whole place to yourself, and apparently being there at sunset is a special moment that will most likely be a tearjerker for the obsessed fan. We can hear the famous score now *wipes tear*!
Rancho Obi-Wan, San Francisco
Home to the world’s largest privately owned collection of Star Wars memorabilia, a visit to Rancho Obi-Wan is sure to be a religious experience for fans. After amassing over 300,000 themed pieces, superfan and collector Steve Sansweet opened the ranch in 1998. Located an hour north of San Francisco, you can have a personal guided tour of the 9,000-square-foot museum for an $85 ticket. And while that’s pricey, keep in mind that you’ll be able to check out everything from props used in the films to vintage arcade machines! Plus, for an extra $15, Steve himself will guide the tour and tell you stories of how he acquired his most precious items. Tickets for younglings from ages 6-12 are $25, with one adult required for every two younglings.
Madame Tussauds (The United Kingdom)Madame Tussauds has always been a place for perfection, and when it comes to Star Wars, the iconic wax museum doesn’t disappoint. The lifelike experience takes over two floors at the Baker Street site and boasts 16 characters and 11 expertly finished sets from the cherished films. You can immerse yourself within sets that range from Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader on the Death Star, to the swampy landscape of Dagobah with Master Yoda, and you’ll even be able to sit next to Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina (be sure to ask who shot first)! Among these amazing sets are all of your favorite characters, including armored stormtroopers, Obi-Wan Kenobi, a captive Princess Leia, and Jabba the Hutt in his Throne Room, plus much more. For an entry fee of £22, we feel the Force is strong with this one.
Star Tours at Disney Parks (Orlando, Anaheim, Tokyo, and Paris)This original Star Wars fantasy ride has been indulging fans’ inner Jedi since 1987! Originally built for $32 million, the ride has been replicated at all of Disney’s parks and has received a technological and thematic upgrade in California, Florida, and Japan. Star Tours blasts off on a thrilling flight simulator for an exploration of the galaxy. You can find yourself fighting the First Order on Jakku, alongside the Millennium Falcon, or delving deep into the oceans of Naboo narrowly escaping the clutches of a monstrous fish. But with the ride offering tons of different experiences, as well as a tour where guests are taken to the planet of Crait to witness an epic battle, even the most frequent Starspeeder travelers can get that amazing Star Wars experience.
New York Jedi, New York City
Not as clumsy as a blaster, or as stubborn as a bowcaster, the lightsaber is an elegant and civilized weapon that demands skill. But where does one attain such lethal grace? New York Jedi, of course. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this Jedi academy combines lessons of dance, martial arts, sword fighting, and meditation to teach you how to harness the modern-day Force. Lessons are $10 and materials aren’t included in the class, so it’s BYO lightsaber.
Redwood National Park, California
Full of intergalactic charm, Redwood National Park is a special place for nature lovers and Ewoks alike. These impressive redwoods north of San Francisco are better known to Star Wars fans as the lush planet of Endor, home of the Ewoks. Pick up a map at the visitor center, because this awe-inspiring national park has a whole host of hiking options that’ll have you fantasizing about all of those fantastic Return of the Jedi scenes. You can pretend you’re with Han Solo and Chewbacca taking control of an AT-AT, or Princess Leia befriending Wicket, or even the magical celebration at the end where we see the Force ghosts of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda (pre-remastering of course)! While you’re there, don’t miss out on a leisurely drive through the Avenue of the Giants (home to some of the tallest trees on earth), and be sure to keep an eye out for any Death Star debris.
[Featured image “Star Wars Photoshoot-Tatooine Before The Force Awoke (245)” by Darryl Moran on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]
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