Todd Wawrychuk | Disney Parks
The hottest vacation spot is about to open in a galaxy not so far, far away.
On Friday, Disney finally opened its first Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge location in Anaheim, California. The expansion to two of its parks, which cost about $1 billion each, has been highly anticipated by “Star Wars” fans and theme park adventurers since it was announced in 2015. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida will give its guests a chance to visit Batuu at Hollywood Studios later this summer.
Foreseeing massive interest in the new park, Disney instituted an online reservation system about a month before the Disneyland park opened. Within two hours, all reservations slots to see Galaxy’s Edge during its first month had been filled. Reservations won’t be needed after June 23, but if the crowds get too big, Disney said some experiences will be restricted or unavailable.
For those who didn’t get reservations or don’t want to brave the crowds, there are plenty of destinations around the world where “Star Wars” fans can get their fix — you’ll just need a passport.
Over the course of 10 movies and four decades, “Star Wars” has been filmed in dozens of countries from Tunisia to the Maldives. Many of these locations are open to the public and an exciting way to relive fan-favorite moments from the iconic saga.
Here are 10 worlds you can visit without having to rev up your hyperdrive:
The dusty, hot planet of Tatooine is a central to the “Star Wars” saga. Home to both Anakin and Luke Skywalker, audiences have come to easily recognize the sandy dunes and shelters of this outer rim planet.
Over the course of several films and decades, California and Tunisia have both been used as locations for scenes in Tatooine.
In Tunisia, the Island of Djerba, Ksar Hadada, Tozeur and Matmata, among other locations, were used to create the Mos Espa slave quarters, Mos Eisley spaceport exterior and the courtyard of the Lars family homestead.
Death Valley National Park in California was also used interchangeably for scenes in “A New Hope,” “Return of the Jedi,” “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.”
Ksar Ouled Soltane was featured in the film Star Wars: Episode I (The Phantom Menace) used to represent the slave quarters of Mos Espa, where the character Anakin Skywalker lived as a boy.
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To visit these set locations in Tunisia or California, it’s best to rent a car as the filming areas are spread out. It should also be noted that the quality of the roads in Tunisia are not always ideal for travel and navigating around its cities can be difficult because not all streets have names.
The watery island planet of Ahch-To became a place of refuge for Luke Skywalker until Rey arrived at the end of “The Force Awakens” to call him back to aid the Resistance.
Ahch-To was the birthplace of the Jedi Order and is currently home to a group of female aliens, the Lanai, known as the Caretakers and bird-like creatures called porgs.
The real shooting location is on Skellig Michael, an island in Ireland.
Since “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” hit theaters, the island has seen a massive influx of visitors seeking to cross the water to visit the majestic stony mountain tops where Mark Hamill (Luke) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) shot key scenes.
A fan dressed as Darth Vader surveys the Skelligs on May 4, 2018 in Portmagee, Ireland. The first ever Star Wars festival is taking place against the backdrop of the famous Skellig Michael island which was used extensively in Episode VII and Episode VIII of the popular science fiction saga.
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Skellig Michael is only open to visitors during part of the year — usually, May through September. However, poor weather conditions could cancel boat trips or prevent tourists from stepping foot on the island.
Bring a rain jacket, good walking shoes and a sturdy walking staff if you plan on visiting Ahch-To this summer.
Like Tatooine, Naboo was actually filmed in two different countries — Spain and Italy.
Naboo is a temperate, pastoral planet and home to Padme Amidala and a race of aliens known as Gungans. The planet is featured prominently throughout the prequel trilogy films, especially “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.”
Seville, Spain acted as the stand-in for the bustling city of Theed on Naboo. It’s iconic archways can be seen as Anakin and Padme travel from the capital to lake retreat called Varykino.
Plaza de España in Siviglia, Spain, on July 2018
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The lake country of Naboo was filmed in Italy at the Villa del Balbianello overlooking Lake Como.
Here, Anakin and Padme’s romance blossomed and, ultimately, it served as the location of their secret wedding at the end of “Attack of the Clones.”
Villa del Balbianello is a popular wedding location for couples, but you don’t have get married just to see the beautiful location. The villa has a public garden and museum.
Glimpse of Lake Como from the loggia of Villa del Balbianello, Lenno, Lombardy, Italy.
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California wasn’t just the site of filming for Tatooine, but also for the forest moon of Endor.
Featured in “Return of the Jedi,” Endor is home to a species of furry creatures called Ewoks. Their homes are put in jeopardy when the Empire comes to occupy their moon. The critters, who believe C-3P0 to be a golden deity, come to fight alongside the rebels to take on the Imperial threat.
Scenes from the film were shot in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Del Norte County. Several of these locations are on private property, so you may not be in the exact same spot that the Ewoks roamed, but you’ll be pretty close.
The local national park association won’t disclose exactly where scenes were shot, but have provided tourists with a handy map of local spots to check out.
Other films shot in the area include “Bird Box,” “The Lost World,” and “E.T.”
Courtesy of California State Parks, 2019
A small salt and mineral planet in the outer rim, Crait becomes a safe haven for the Resistance as they flee the First Order. During the battle on Crait, ski speeders sliced into the salt flats disturbing the red mineral soil beneath.
Crait was also the host of a face off between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren, although it was later revealed that Luke was only force projecting himself onto the planet while he remained on Ahch-To.
Scenes for Crait were filmed at Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It is the world’s largest salt flat and is a massive tourist attraction.
There are plenty of tour groups in the area and visitors can choose between one-day visits and three-day visits depending on how much of the salt flats they wish to see.
Off-road cars in the Salar de Uyuni. It is largest salt flat in the World (UNESCO World Heritage Site) – Altiplano, Bolivia, South America
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The salt flats are highly elevated, around 12,000 feet, so altitude sickness is not uncommon for travelers.
A tropical planet in the outer rim, Scarif was home to an Imperial security complex during the events of “Rogue One.”
Here, the Empire housed the plans for its ultimate battle station, the Death Star.
While Scarif may have been destroyed, fans can still visit the crystal blue waters and beaches on which the film was shot.
Much of the exterior shots were filmed on Laamu Atoll, a remote series of islands in the Maldives.
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While some of the filming locations were on deserted islands, there are plenty of resort and beach areas accessible to the public that look just like the tropical planet of Scarif from the film.
Another notable Scarif location is actually in England. Production spent an evening shooting at the Canary Wharf underground station, using it as the interior of the main building on Scarif.
“I didn’t know there was this much green in the whole galaxy,” Rey remarks as the Millennium Falcon enters the atmosphere of Takodana in “The Force Awakens.”
The lush green planet is home to Maz Kanata’s castle, a hive for smugglers, fugitives and explorers.
Part of the planet was filmed in Puzzlewood, an ancient woodland in England. The forest has been a filming location for “Doctor Who,” “Star Wars,” The Huntsman: Winter’s War” and number other productions.
Puzzlewood is open year round to guests and also has cottages that can be rented out.
The moss covered rocks of Puzzlewood, an ancient woodland near Coleford in the Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK
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Just be careful when reenacting Rey’s encounter with Kylo Ren, Puzzlewood is known for its slick moss and maze-like rock formations.
Tatooine isn’t the only desert planet in the Star Wars universe. Jakku, the home of Rey, is an isolated planet within the western reaches of space. It was once a verdant world with forests and water, but it has since turned into a barren, unbearably hot world.
Pivotal scenes for “The Force Awakens” were shot in the Rub’ al Khali desert near Abu Dhabi.
The area has become a hot spot for sand boarding, dune basing, off-road driving and safari tours.
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Yavin 4, a jungle-covered moon in orbit around the red gas giant Yavin, hosted the headquarters for the Alliance during the third act of “A New Hope.”
From these ancient temples, the Rebels lead their assault on the first Death Star.
While all interior shots were filmed in a studio, the exterior looks at Yavin 4 were taken at the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.
Tikal is a well-known archaeological site that was once one of the largest cities of the Mayan civilization.
The archaeological site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Tikal National Park,Guatemala. The park is UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
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The site is remote and quite large, so it can take three to four hours to wander around all of the ruins.
If tropical beaches, sandy deserts and temperate forests aren’t to your liking. You could always take a trip to the wintry planet of Hoth.
The prominent Rebel base from “The Empire Strikes Back” was filmed in Finse, Norway.
Due to snow storms at the time of filming, director Irvin Kershner and his crew actually shot a number of scenes from the back door of their hotel.
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The Finse 1222 Hotel has become a popular destination for fans. However, if you decide to explore the nearby glaciers, it’s advised that you hire a guide — snow blindness, hypothermia and dehydration are all common for inexperienced hikers in the area.