20 Star Wars Movie Locations You Can Visit in Real Life

Jonathan Olley // Lucasfilm
Jonathan Olley // Lucasfilm

While most of the Star Wars saga has been filmed on sound stages in England and Australia, the filmmakers behind the ongoing space opera have sometimes traveled to real-life places to create the alien worlds of a galaxy far, far away. Here are 20 Star Wars movie locations you can visit in real life.

1. AJIM, TUNISIA

George Lucas used various locations around Tunisia to film exteriors for the desert planet Tatooine, most notably the ferry port town of Ajim. The town was used for the exteriors of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home, which was actually an old mosque, plus the Mos Eisley Spaceport in A New Hope.

2. THE HÔTEL SIDI DRISS // MATMATAT-AL-QADIMAL, TUNISIA

The Hôtel Sidi Driss in Matmatat-Al-Qadimal, Tunisia was used as the Lars homestead (Luke Skywalker’s childhood home) in A New Hope. The hotel consists of five pits, four of them reserved for lodging and sleeping, the fifth dubbed the “Star Wars pit.” Guests can dine in the Lars family dining room, now the hotel’s restaurant. The set dressings were removed after filming in 1976, but returned in the year 2000 in order to film scenes for Attack of the Clones. Ever since, the decorations have remained. Fittingly, it's more commonly known as the "Star Wars hotel."

3. DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA

George Lucas used Death Valley National Park for pickup shots after shooting in Tunisia for A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. The area between Sierra Nevada and the Mojave Desert, along with Tunisia, were used to make the desert planet of Tatooine come to life, most notably in the scene when Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 for the first time.

For Return of the Jedi, Twenty Mule Team Canyon in Death Valley was used to film the scene in which C-3PO and R2-D2 travel to Jabba's Palace.

4. HARDANGERJØKULEN GLACIER, NORWAY

The Empire Strikes Back's snowy opening battle scene on the ice planet Hoth was filmed on the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, the sixth largest glacier in Norway.

5. FINSE, NORWAY

At the foot of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier is the small railroad town of Finse, Norway, which is located between Oslo and Bergen, and was used as the Rebel Alliance’s Echo Base on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. While shooting in 1979, a snowstorm hit the small town, allowing director Irvin Kershner to shoot two key scenes: Luke Skywalker's escape from the Wampa cave, as well as the young hero's interaction with the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi before he is rescued by Han Solo. Both scenes were shot just outside of the Finse 1222 Hotel.

6. TIKAL NATIONAL PARK // TIKAL, GUATEMALA

In A New Hope, Lucas used ancient Mayan ruins, located in Guatemala's Tikal National Park, as the exterior of the Rebel Alliance’s Massassi Outpost.

7. YUMA DESERT, ARIZONA

Instead of returning to Tunisia for Return of the Jedi, the film's producers chose to shoot Buttercup Valley in Arizona's Yuma Desert for the Sarlacc Pit sequence. Jabba's Sail Barge and the Sarlacc Pit took more than five months to build, and more than 5500 cast and crew members lodged in Yuma during filming in 1982.

8. REDWOOD NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS, CALIFORNIA

California's Redwood National and State Parks portrayed the Forest Moon of Endor, the Ewoks’ home world, in Return of the Jedi. Several scenes, such as the speeder bike chase and the Ewok ambush, were shot in the parks’ many redwood groves in Marin County, which is close to Lucas’s home at Skywalker Ranch.

9. GRINDELWALD, SWITZERLAND

Most of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were shot at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney using green screen. However, Lucas would occasionally send crews out to capture scenery in various locations around the world for the plate photography used in background shots.

One of the real-life places shot for Revenge of the Sith was the beautiful mountain range of Grindelwald, Switzerland, which was used as the backdrop for the planet Alderaan, Princess Leia’s home.

10. VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO // LENNO, ITALY

The Lake Retreat where Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala go into hiding in Attack of the Clones is located at the Villa del Balbainello in Lenno, Italy. Originally built in 1787, the villa overlooks Lake Como and served as a monastery before it was turned over to the National Trust of Italy in 1988. Villa del Balbainello makes another appearance at the end of Attack of the Clones, as the location for Anakin and Padme’s wedding.

11. ROYAL PALACE OF CASERTA // CASERTA, ITALY


The Palace of Caserta in southern Italy, just northeast of Napoli, was used to shoot the interiors of the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Originally built for Bourbon King Charles III in the 1750s, the Palace of Caserta is also the largest royal residence in the world.

12. PHANG NGA BAY // PHUKET, THAILAND

The beautiful island backdrop of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand was used as plate photography for the planet Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s birthplace, in Revenge of the Sith. For certain scenes, shots of Guilin, China were combined with Phang Nga Bay.

13. WHIPPENDELL WOOD // WATFORD, ENGLAND

Lucas used England's Whippendell Wood for two scenes in The Phantom Menace: In the first instance, it's where Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet Jar-Jar Binks; the other shows the Wood as a sacred place for Jar-Jar's species, the Gungans.

14. PLAZA DE ESPAÑA // SEVILLE, SPAIN

The beautiful Plaza de España in Seville, Spain was used for the exterior of Theed on Naboo in Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Padme walk through the plaza before the pair go into hiding in the Lake Country.

15. MOUNT ETNA // SICILY, ITALY

Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor in 'Revenge of the Sith'
Lucasfilm

Although Lucas actually didn’t shoot on Mount Etna, his team used Italy’s most active volcano for plate photography for the epic light saber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Mount Etna was actually erupting during filming, so Lucas sent a film crew to capture its flowing lava.

16. SKELLIG MICHAEL, IRELAND

Daisy Ridley in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
Lucasfilm

The island planet of Ahch-To, which the exiled Luke Skywalker called home at the end of The Force Awakens, is actually the island of Skellig Michael, which is located about 7 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland. Around 600 CE, a group of monks built a monastery that sits more than 600 feet above sea level, along with hundreds of rock steps to reach the top. Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction for Star Wars fans because it’s where Rey received her Jedi training in The Last Jedi.

17. RUB' AL KHALI DESERT // ABU DHABI, UAE

Daisy Ridley in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
Lucasfilm

From Rey’s scavenger marketplace to Poe Dameron and Finn’s crash landing in The Force Awakens, the desert planet of Jakku was filmed in a large section of the Rub' al Khali desert known as “The Empty Quarter,” which is located a few hours away from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The Star Wars cast and crew filmed for six months in the largest contiguous sand desert in the world under the production title “Avco,” named after the L.A. movie theater where director J.J. Abrams watched the original Star Wars for the first time in 1977.

18. SALAR DE UYUNI // POTOSÍ, BOLIVIA

Located near the crest of the Andes is Salar de Uyuni, the Earth’s largest salt flat. It stretches more than 4000 square miles across southwest Bolivia and was used as the filming location for Crait, a mineral planet covered in white salt and red soil where the Resistance held its last stand against the First Order in The Last Jedi. The salt flat was created when prehistoric lakes dried up during the last Ice Age and left more than 10 billion tons of natural salt behind.

19. LAAMU ATOLL, MALDIVES

A still from 'Rogue One'
Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment

During the climax of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Rebel Alliance, led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), breaks into an Imperial Base located on the planet Scarif to steal the top secret blueprints for the Death Star.

Director Gareth Edwards used Gan and Berasdhoo—two very large islands in the Laamu Atoll island cluster in the Maldives—as the filming location for Scarif, a remote tropical planet in the Outer Rim. "Scarif is based on a paradise world, so we had to go to paradise to film it," Edwards said during Star Wars Celebration in 2016.

In addition, the interior of the Imperial Security Complex on Scarif was mostly filmed in the Canary Wharf Underground Station in London, England. Film crews worked on an exciting chase scene through the subway station between midnight and 4 a.m. when it was closed to the public.

20. DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

In The Last Jedi, Canto Bight is a casino city on the planet Cantonica, where Finn and Rose embark on a mission to find a master codebreaker to disable the First Order’s new weapon. Director Rian Johnson used the walled seaside city of Dubrovnik, Croatia as the filming location for the lavish city.

Dubrovnik, which is known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” was also used as the filming location for King’s Landing on Game of Thrones. So the Croatian city gets double the nerd cred for Game of Thrones and Star Wars fans alike.

Pod Search, a Search Engine for Podcasts, Can Help You Find Your Next Binge-Listen

Milkos/iStock via Getty Images
Milkos/iStock via Getty Images

Having too many options definitely seems like the best problem to have when it comes to picking your next top podcast obsession, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. To streamline the hunt, try Pod Search—a website and mobile app that has all the information you need in order to choose a winner.

As Lifehacker reports, the user-friendly site is organized in several different ways, depending on how you’d like to operate your search. You can browse its list of about 30 categories, which range from “Storytelling” to “Crime & Law,” and each has a set of subcategories so you can get even more specific. If you trust the opinions of the general public, you can choose an already-popular podcast from the “Top Podcasts” tab. Or, if you like to be the first to recommend the next big thing to your friends, you can pick a program from the list of new podcasts.

Pod Search also has a handy tool called MyPodSearch which will pretty much do all the work of choosing the perfect podcast for you. All you have to do is check whichever categories interest you and add any additional keywords you’d like (which is optional), and MyPodSearch will deliver a list of podcasts personalized for your tastes. This is great for people who have wide-ranging interests, a proclivity for indecision, or both.

Each podcast has its own landing page with a description, audio samples, places you can listen, website and social media links for the podcast, and a list of other podcasts from the same producers. You can also create an account and bookmark podcasts for the future—so, hypothetically, you could have MyPodSearch create a personalized list for you, bookmark them all, and then have a binge-listening itinerary that’ll last you until next year.

[h/t Lifehacker]

8 Fun Facts About Muppet Babies

The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

Before prequels were a thing, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies imagined a world in which the felt-covered characters of Henson’s Muppets franchise—Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear among them—met up as children in a nursery. Left to their own devices, the animated cast led a rich fantasy life while in diapers. For more on this 1984-1991 show, including why it’s so hard to find anywhere except YouTube, keep reading.

1. Frank Oz didn’t really want Muppet Babies.

The idea to infantilize the Muppets came from Michael Frith, a longtime collaborator of Jim Henson’s, in the early 1980s. Frith believed that regressing the characters could allow them to impart moral or educational messages to children already familiar with them. But Frank Oz, a Muppets performer (Miss Piggy) and film director, argued that the Muppets needed to maintain their subversive edge. It was Henson who found a compromise, suggesting that younger versions of the characters appear in a dream sequence for 1984’s feature film The Muppets Take Manhattan. The response to the scene was overwhelmingly positive, and Henson soon teamed with Marvel Productions and CBS for an animated series that began airing in September 1984.

2. Skeeter was the result of a gender imbalance on Muppet Babies.

Most of the principal Muppet Babies cast was made up of recognizable characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, and Scooter. But Frith, Henson, and producers Bob Richardson and Hank Saroyan decided that the babies were skewing a little too male. Aside from Piggy and their caretaker, Nanny, there were no female characters. To balance the scales, they introduced Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister, a brainy problem-solver.

Skeeter has made only fleeting and sporadic appearances in the Muppet franchise since, leading to speculation she might be caught up in rights issues between CBS and the Jim Henson Company, which was purchased by Disney in 2004. Fortunately, the somewhat murky situation appears to be at least partially resolved: It was recently reported Skeeter will resurface in the new computer-animated iteration of Muppet Babies, which is currently airing its second season on Disney Junior and has been renewed for a third season.

3. One of the major creative forces behind Muppet Babies was Moe Howard’s grandson.

In 1985, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott received a Humanitas Prize from the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute for an episode of the series which the Institute declared did the best job of any kid’s show that year to “enrich the viewing public.” The episode centered on the group fearing one of them might be sent away. The prolific Scott actually wrote all 13 episodes of the first season. His father, Norman Maurer, worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions and got Scott’s foot in the door. His grandfather was Moe Howard, founder and head Stooge of The Three Stooges fame.

4. The Muppet Babies live-action segments were a result of budgetary constraints.

A hallmark of Muppet Babies is when the cast finds themselves thrust into scenes from famous films, a Walter Mitty-esque bit of fantasy fulfillment that blends live-action sequences with animation. According to Frith, devoting a portion of each episode to clips wasn’t entirely a creative choice. By inserting clips, producers could save money on animation. It was also easy for Henson to secure the rights to popular films like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. While some believe those clips are the reason the show isn’t available to stream—sifting through the legal entanglement of reairing the segments might prove costly—that’s never been confirmed.

5. Muppet Babies never explained what the Muppets were doing in that nursery.

Given time to reflect, it seems odd that the Muppet cast would find themselves in a nursery without being supervised by their own parents. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press in 1987, Michael Frith said that the situation was purposely left vague. “I really appreciate the fact that they don’t [ask],” Frith said of his kid viewers. “Is this a day care center? Is this a foster child home? The more we talked about it, the more we felt it should just exist. The kids accept it.”

6. The voice recording sessions of Muppet Babies included copious farting.

Speaking with CNN in 2011, actor Dave Coulier (Full House) recalled that recording sessions for Muppet Babies sometimes involved flatulence. Coulier, who portrayed Animal and Bunsen, among others, said that “lots of fart humor” punctuated the recording studio. “In one scene, Fozzie [played by Greg Berg] and Animal had to climb a ladder,” he said. “As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making [grunting] sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at [actor] Frank Welker and we couldn’t contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing.”

7. There was an offshoot of Muppet Babies called Muppet Monsters—and it never aired in full.

Following the success of Muppet Babies, CBS and Jim Henson decided to expand on the Muppets' potential as Saturday morning stars by creating a 90-minute block in 1985 titled Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. (Muppet Babies often aired consecutive half-hour installments for an hour total.) In addition to regular Muppet Babies episodes, the program featured another half-hour of Little Muppet Monsters, which featured puppets of new Muppet monster characters named Tug, Molly, and Boo. The three appeared in a framing device that introduced animated segments of adult Muppets. Only three episodes aired out of 15 produced, reportedly due to both Henson and CBS being unhappy with the finished product and Muppet Babies standing strongly on its own. The remaining episodes have yet to see the light of day.

8. Muppet Babies was turned into a live stage show.

To further incite their juvenile audience and monetize their popularity, the Muppet Babies franchise eventually wound up live and on stage. Muppet Babies Live! debuted in 1986 and featured performers in oversized costumes dancing and acting to a prerecorded track. In one skit, the cast appeared in a Snow White homage. In another, Rowlf became Rowlfgang Amagodus Mozart and played the piano. The arena show toured the country. Hank Saroyan, one of the animated show’s producers, wrote the stage show. The performer for Baby Piggy, Elizabeth Figols, also appeared in a live production of Dirty Dancing. The show ran through 1990.

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