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Visit Milwaukee Editors Pick 7-2016

5 locations for Star Wars fans

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Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope first aired in 1977, triggering a worldwide pop culture phenomenon that has spanned nearly four decades.

While scenes from the seven films were filmed in “far, far away” locations like Tunisia and Thailand, here are five Star Wars locations a bit closer to home:  

1.Rancho Obi-Wan
Petaluma, California

Rancho Obi Wan, Petaluma, Calif. Star Wars

Photo: Rancho Obi Wan Rancho Obi Wan, Petaluma, Calif.

A non-profit museum, Rancho Obi-Wan houses the world’s largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts.

Owner Steve Sansweet leads groups on a tour of the facility while addressing topics ranging from the interaction of Star Wars films in popular culture, changes in movie technology over the past four decades and artifacts ranging from action figures to scene props used during filming.

All visitors are welcome to play vintage Star Wars arcade games and pinball machines that have been set in free play mode.

2.Star Wars Launch Bay, Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida

A new attraction within Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort, Star Wars Launch Bay is popular with saga fans of all ages.

Highlights include movie props and memorabilia, interactive video games and a 10-minute behind-the-scenes short film featuring Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the highest grossing film of all time.

Resort guests might encounter Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca or the notorious First Order warrior Kylo Ren.

3.Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume”
Traveling Exhibit

R2-D2 C3PO Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume

Photo: ©™ 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume

Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) program, “Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume” is on exhibit at key locations around the country through the year 2019.

Featuring sixty original costumes from the Star Wars trilogy and prequel trilogy, the show uses videos and digital flipbooks to help visitors see and hear cultural and historical context from costume designers, actors, and filmmaker George Lucas.

Guests leave with a better understanding of how fabric, form, color and style are used create iconic characters within a complex storyline.

4.Muir Woods National Monument
Mill Valley, California

Endor, a forest moon inhabitable to humans and home of the Ewok, made its first appearance in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in 1983. Multiple old-growth redwood forests along the California coast served as Endor filming locations, including Muir Woods National Monument located twelve miles north of San Francisco.

Enveloped within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument is a popular destination with locals and tourists. Visitors step out of civilization and into a verdant and dense canopy of ferns, lichen, moss and majestic spruce trees.

5.Death Valley National Park
California and Nevada

Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

Photo: National Park Foundation's Share the Experience photo contest/Bachir Badaoui Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

With its expansive and arid desert landscape, Death Valley National Park was a key filming location for Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.

Movie fans may recognize Mesquite Flats — a vast land of three distinct types of sand dunes — as the location where R2-D2 and C-3PO argued after crashing on the planet Tattooine. Alternately, the park’s Artist’s Palette area — a 9-mile one-way loop through multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills — was the location where savaging Jawas kidnapped R2-D2.

Article by Julie Henning

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