Star Wars in California

  • 01 of 09

    The Dune Sea and Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge from Episode V: Return of the Jedi

    Imperial Sand Dunes
    ••• Imperial Sand Dunes. Adapted from Quim Gil/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Since 1977, movie fans have been enjoying the Star Wars film series. If you're a fan and want to see some of the places where the films were made - or enjoy some California movie tourism with a Star Wars theme, this guide includes all things Star Wars in the state of California.

    The Dune Sea and Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge

    The scene from Episode V: Return of the Jedi where Luke Skywalker tries to get Jabba the Hutt to set his friends free was filmed at California's Imperial Sand Dunes recreation area. This spot is sometimes erroneously listed as being in Yuma, Arizona which is the closest town.

    The filming took place in an area called Buttercup Valley - a bowl-shaped depression with a sandy floor, surrounded by dunes on all sides. You need an off-road vehicle to get there and it's a 1.5-mile drive from the picnic and camping area.

    For a while, Jabba the Hutt’s luxury sail barge was still out in the desert, but it’s now gone.

    SoCal science-fiction fan Mike Davis and his...MORE friends headed out to Buttercup Valley to check out a filming for a production in 1982. Filming under the fake name Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination to avoid detection, it was actually Return of the Jedi and they captured some really fun images which you can see at the website Prop Store,

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  • 02 of 09

    R2D2's Canyon from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

    R2D2's Canyon in Death Valley
    ••• R2D2's Canyon in Death Valley. ©2015 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Tatooine: Star Wars in Death Valley

    Many of the desert scenes in the Star Wars series were filmed in Tunisia, but California's Death Valley also features prominently as part of Tatooine in the first Star Wars films, especially Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

    The location shown above is often called R2's Arroyo Overlook, which appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The canyon is also where R2 gets zapped by the Jawas. It's visible from the Artist's Palette overlook. Just park your car and walk up the slope near the restrooms and you'll see it below you.

    Other Episode IV sites in Death Valley include the Sandcrawler Station, Bantha Canyon, Jawa Canyon, Mos Eisley Overlook and the sand dunes of Tatooine. From Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, there's also the road to Jabba's Palace.

    Steve Hall has all the locations documented at Star Wars in Death Valley, complete with a handy map.

    Here's how to plan your trip to Death Valley.

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  • 03 of 09

    Forest Moon of Endor and Ewok Forest from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

    Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
    ••• Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. Jason Hollinger/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This location first appears in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The second Death Star under construction orbits the Moon of Endor, which is home to those cute, furry little Ewoks.

    The forest scenes were filmed in the redwood forests near Crescent City. The scene of the Ewok battle was leveled after the filming was finished, and M. D. Vaden thinks all of the forest area used in the film has now been cut down. But you can find very similar-looking surroundings in the Owen R Cheatham Grove in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

    Here's how to visit northern California's redwood trees.

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  • 04 of 09

    Lucasfilm Headquarters and the Yoda Statue, San Francisco

    Yoda Fountain at Lucasfilm Headquarters
    ••• Yoda Fountain at Lucasfilm Headquarters. ©2014 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Anyone can visit and Lucasfilm's 17-acres property at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco. They don't offer public tours, but you can see the Yoda Fountain and other fun, movie-related sculptures on the property.

    The Letterman Digital Arts Center os at 1 Letterman Drive. You can get there using the PresidiGO Downtown bus or SFMTA bus #43. If you're driving, don't be intimidated by the parking lot security guard. Just drive up and tell them you want to see the grounds and they'll direct you to a parking place.

    Lucasfilm's former location at Skywalker Ranch is located in Marin County and is not open to the public.

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  • 05 of 09

    Stars Wars Cast on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

    Hollwyood Walk of Fame
    ••• Hollwyood Walk of Fame. ©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    You can find several people associated with the Star Wars film along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They include:

    • Harrison Ford: 6801 Hollywood Blvd, in front of the Hollywood at Highland complex. You might stumble on another Harrison Ford star at 6665 Hollywood Blvd, but that one belongs to a silent film star.
    • Samuel L Jackson: 7018 Hollywood Blvd. Mace Windu in Episode III
    • Alec Guinness: 1559 Vine St Vine Street on the west side, between Selma and Sunset. Ben 'Obi-Wan' Kenob in episodes IV, V, VI
    • Billy Dee Williams: 1521 Vine Street. Lando Calrissian in episodes IV, V, VI
    • Dennis Muren: (Special effects for episodes I, II, IV, V, VI) 6764 Hollywood Blvd
    • Liam Neeson: It was announced in 2013 that Neeson, who played Qui-Gon Jinn in Episode I would be getting a star in 2014, but as of early 2015, it hasn't happened. Check the current status by searching for his name at the Walk of Fame website.

    Find out how you can visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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  • 06 of 09

    Star Wars Cast at Hollywood's Chinese Theatre

    Star Wars Cast Footprints at the Chinese Theatre
    ••• Star Wars Cast Footprints at the Chinese Theatre. Adapted from Gordon Tarpley/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Hollywood's Chinese Theatre was the site of the premiere of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (which at that time was simply titled Star Wars) in 1977.

    The iconic film palace is also famous for the handprints and footprints in its forecourts. The photo above shows the "hand" and "foot" prints of R2D2, C3PO and Darth Vader, done in 1977. You'll also find prints from Samuel L Jackson who played Mace Windu in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Harrison Ford (Han Solo).

    Find out how you can visit the Chinese Theatre.

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  • 07 of 09

    Star Tours Ride at Disneyland

    Star Tours at Disneyland
    ••• Star Tours at Disneyland. Courtesy of the Disneyland Resort

    Disneyland's Star Tours ride is based on the Star Wars film series. It's one of the most fun rides in the park, with a cute, themed area to walk through on your way to your space craft. It isn't long before your bumbling droid pilot lets things get out of control, jumps to light speed and careens through the universe.

    The 3-D images are super-realistic and the technology allows for 54 different story sequences, enough to keep riders coming back again and again. You might even discover that you are the rebel spy that the ship is trying to take to safey.
     

    Find out more in the Disneyland Ride Guide.

     

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  • 08 of 09

    Star Wars Miniland, San Diego

    Death Star Made from LEGOs - Legoland California
    ••• Star Wars Death Star Made from LEGOs - Legoland California. ©2015 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Legoland's "minilands" are mostly based on real places, but they also have a model based on the Star Wars films. It includes a model of the Death Star and the famous trench run scene where Luke Skywalker maneuvers his X-Wing fighter through the combat zone to destroy the Death Star.

    Guests can also create their own LEGO starships at building stations, while LEGO X-Wings, Tie Fighters and Y-Wings circle overhead.

    Find out how you can visit Legoland.

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  • 09 of 09

    Star Wars Mural at Twentieth Century Fox - and Other Locations

    Star Wars Mural at 20th Century Fox Studios
    ••• Star Wars Mural at 20th Century Fox Studios. Chris Gold/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    Twentieth Century Fox produced the original Star Wars films and has been the series' major distributor.

    This mural is inside the 20th Century Fox Studios property, but it's visible through Motor Gate 1, which is near the intersection of Motor Avenue and W. Pico Blvd. in the Century City area of Los Angeles. Setting your GPS to 10093 W Pico Blvd will get you close.

    More Star Wars Sites in California

    You’ll have to dig deep into your wallet to tour Steve Sansweet’s Rancho Obi Wan near Petaluma. A visit requires a one year membership and tour ticket that will set you back $100 per person, but you won’t find a more extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia anywhere in the universe.