Are you excited yet about Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens? We sure are! This story was originally published Oct. 22. You can also see our insider look at the new Star Wars attractions at Disney World, and enjoy our lessons we learned about travel from watching Star Wars.
So you think you’re a real Star Wars fan. You already have your tickets for The Force Awakens and analyzed each clip in the new trailer. You show off your vintage Kenner action figures to every poor house guest. Heck, you don’t even think the prequels were that bad.
Just kidding: real fans know the prequels were awful.
The “ultimate” Star Wars rankings are based on fan responses and are weighted by the following factors: accessibility, accommodations, amenities, and “strength of the Force.” The latter accounts for 70 percent of the weighting and takes into account just how Star Wars-y the place is.
Some of these spots are pure tourist attractions, and others are famous for having Star Wars scenes filmed there – including some from The Force Awakens. Here are the top 10-ranked destinations, and if you want to start with No. 1, you’ll want to brush up on your Lego skills.
Destinations worldwide, including Carlsbad, Calif., and Winter Haven, Fla.
Courtesy: Legoland California
Legoland’s intricately detailed Miniland displays can delight Star Wars fans of any age, and they include the following: a 13-foot-tall, 1,900-pound Death Star; life-sized versions of Darth Vader and Chewbacca; and a Jawa sandcrawler.
2. Lars Homestead and Tatooine Desert Scenes
Photo: Amar Grover/JAI/Corbis
Tunisia is a long way farther than Legoland – make that a long, long way – but if you want to get hard core, you can’t beat the place Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen called home. Lars Homestead was filmed at the Hotel Sidi Driss, and the Berber hotel is still open to visitors for $12 per night, with the Lars dining room from A New Hope intact.
3. Rancho Obi Wan
Courtesy: Rancho Obi-Wan
No matter how proud you might be of your Star Wars collection, this guy has you beat. Steve Sansweet has been stockpiling rare items from the movies since the 70s, totaling over 300,000, and for $60 per ticket he’ll be happy to show them to you at his museum 55 miles north of San Francisco. You can find lightsabers used in the films, vintage toys aplenty, and highly obscure collector’s items.
4. Exterior of Lars Homestead
Chott el Djerid, Tunisia
Photo: Splash News/Mark Dermul
Not to be confused with Lars Homestead at No. 2 about 185 miles away, this large, dried-up salt lake is the exterior location of Luke’s igloo home where his unforgettable twin-sunset scene from A New Hope was shot.
5. Madame Tussauds Star Wars Exhibits
London and Berlin
Courtesy: Madame Tussauds
Unlike in the movies, you can’t clone Star Wars characters, but you can build life-sized versions of them from wax. Madame Tussauds in London has a recreated Mos Eisley Cantina and a life-sized Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon, and in Berlin you can get up close with Han Solo, a Stormtrooper, Yoda, and more.
6. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Tokyo Disneyland
The Star Tours flight simulator has been pleasing movie geeks since 1987, but for those needing a J.J. Abrams-type reboot, the revamped ride has all new-technology and all new stories: there are 54 unique experiences in all, so you never know which landscapes you’ll be flying into. Hopefully not one with Jar Jar Binks.
7. Skellig Michael
Photo: russavia/Wikimedia Commons
And now we hit our highest-ranked A Force Awakens locale on the list. Exactly what happens at this UNESCO World Heritage site is unclear, but certain “incidents” during filming have reportedly required repairs, including the entrance to a monastery that dates as far back as the 6th century. Could it be a lightsaber duel involving Luke Skywalker, who is believed to live here? We can hope, though the Office of Public Works says such repairs are routine even after tourist visits.
8. Yavin 4
Photo: Reywas92/Wikimedia Commons
Princess Leia wouldn’t tell the Empire where the hidden Rebel base was in A New Hope, even under duress. But we’ll tell you: it was here in these ancient Mayan ruins. The interior Yavin scenes were filmed in a studio, but if you climb Temple IV here and look east, you’ll see a familiar angle from the movie.
9. Mos Espa Slave Quarters on Tatooine
Ksar Hadada, Tunisia
Photo: Asram/Wikimediai Commons
This is the highest-ranked of several southern Tunisian locations used to capture Anakin Skywalker’s humble slave origins on Tatooine in The Phantom Menace. It’s near an actual city called Tataouine. These slums were built for the movie, and you can find them mostly intact today.
10. The City of Theed, Naboo
Plaza de España
Photo: Roberto Chamoso G
The plaza, completed in 1928 for the World’s Fair and now mainly used for government buildings, was digitally altered into a full circle for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (George Lucas digitally altering something? Shocker!). But you can visit Seville and stroll across the grounds as they really are.
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