Calling all Jedi. May the Fourth (Star Wars Day) is upon us again and each year we search for new and exciting ways to celebrate the franchise we love so much. Re-watching the movies or binging the latest show on Disney+ is always a fun and safe option, but for those who want to venture outside their Rebel base, this article is for you. Luckily you don’t need to go to a galaxy far far away because California is host to a number of unique adventures that would make even Luke Skywalker jealous. So, grab your lightsaber, gas up the Millennium Falcon and let the journey begin.
What better way to begin your journey than at the place where it all began: Imagination Park. Located in downtown San Anselmo, Imagination Park is the birthplace of George Lucas’s masterpieces Star Wars and Indiana Jones(bonus). Lucas settled in San Anselmo in 1973 after the success of American Graffiti and began work on what would become Star Wars. It’s also where the first unedited footage was screened. In 2013 Lucas donated the park and two statues (Yoda and Indiana Jones) to the community. Do I sense photo op? Ultimately, though, his goal was to create a special place for children and adults alike to find both peace and inspiration.
Any true Star War fan knows that the visual effects from the first film in 1977 pioneered the way we see movies today. Behind those effects is Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Founded by George Lucas as a division of Lucusfilm in 1975, ILM continues to be the industry leader in the way movies are made. Originally located in Van Nuys, ILM now resides at Lucasfilms’ Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park. As of 2023, ILM has won 15 Academy Awards for Visual Effects. Come visit the 23-acre campus and take a picture in front of the Yoda fountain. Feel the force.
There’s another magical place you immerse yourself in everything Star Wars … in case you haven’t already guessed, it’s Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Opened in 2019, Galaxy’s Edge gives its guests the closest experience to actually being in a Star Wars movie. Once you arrive in the land of Batuu, take a second to breathe it all in before starting your adventure. Head over to the Droid Depot and build a remote-control droid or construct your very own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop. When you get hungry, swing by to Oga’s Cantina or the Milk Stand for a tasty frozen treat. Remember to wait 20 minutes after eating before riding Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a great way to celebrate Star Wars any day of the week.
If Star Wars history is more your thing, then I suggest Rancho Obi-Wan located in Petaluma, California. Rancho Obi-Wan is a publicly supported, nonprofit museum that houses the largest Star Wars memorabilia collection. The collection includes props, toys, video games and nearly anything Star Wars related you can think of. If you’re anything like me and miss the Star Wars action figures that your mom threw away, then this is the place for you. There are other unique Star Wars adventures that California has to offer, but unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day, and I’m ready to celebrate. That said, I wish you luck on your mission and May the Fourth be with you!