5 ways to immerse yourself in the ‘Star Wars’ universe
From a walk-on role in a future film to dizzying virtual reality combat, these experiences put fans in the middle of the 'Star Wars' galaxy.
When it comes to being in love with everything from a galaxy far, far away, there's truly never been a better time to be a "Star Wars" super fan.
In addition to the upcoming "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," helmed by American director Rian Johnson and his longtime friend Ram Bergman, a prolific Israeli producer, there's also a standalone "Han Solo" film in development, various video game adventures and a slew of new novels.
Want even more ways to immerse yourself in the world of "Star Wars"? Check out the incredible contests, parks, celebrations, virtual reality experiences and nostalgia-inducing museum exhibits coming to our own galaxy. No hyperspace jump required.
Win an epic 'Star Wars' experience from Omaze
When it comes to witnessing first-hand the magic behind the "Star Wars" franchise, few opportunities are as all-encompassing as what Omaze is offering.
The nonprofit raffle site has partnered with Disney and Star Wars: Force for Change to send one lucky fan on three incredible "Star Wars" experiences. The first involves an overnight stay at George Lucas' legendary Skywalker Ranch (replete with a private screening of "Star Wars: A New Hope"), the second involves a trip to the set of the new "Han Solo" film and a chance to actually appear in the film, and the third will place you on the red carpet for the premiere of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
Interested fans can purchase a raffle ticket through Omaze until May 11 for a shot at winning the above grand prize. All of the money raised will benefit UNICEF and Starlight Children’s Foundation, which creates moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized children and their families.
Mark your calendars for Disney's 'Star Wars Land'
While Disney already has an array of "Star Wars" attractions at its Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., parks, the company is pulling out all the stops on two new "Star Wars"-themed lands.
Spanning 14 acres, each "Star Wars" park will provide an immersive experience that, as Disney exec Bob Chapman remarked, will transport fans to "a gateway planet located on the outer rim, full of places and characters familiar and not so familiar."
In addition to a full-scale Millennium Falcon, guests can expect to mingle with aliens, throw back blue milk at the local cantina and purchase goods from the intergalactic market.
"Our intent is to make it feel as if you just walked into one of the movies," creative portfolio exec Scott Trowbridge said. "Bringing Star Wars to life in the physical world gives us the opportunity to play with a whole bunch of things we've never done before... to really engage all of the senses. What does that street feel like? What does that animal smell like? What does blue milk taste like?"
Both parks are scheduled to open in 2019.
Attend the 2017 'Star Wars Celebration'
If you want to feel the palpable excitement building for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," the place to be is at the 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando.
Running from April 13-16, the annual event offers everything from panels with the cast, directors and producers to screenings, exclusive merchandise and plenty of surprises. Rumors regarding this year's event are already heating up, with expectations approaching near certainty that the first trailer for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will debut on April 14.
As this May marks the 40th anniversary of the premiere for "Star Wars: A New Hope," the Orlando celebration will also feature a star-studded panel of actors and actresses from the previous eight films. Those confirmed to make appearances include Hayden Christensen, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Ian McDairmind, Ray Park, Tem Morrison, Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk and many more.
In addition to news regarding "Star Wars" television series and video games, the event will also hold a special celebration on Friday in tribute to the late Carrie Fisher. Close friend Mark Hamill, who penned a loving tribute to Fisher following her passing in January, will host this memorial panel.
For those who can't make it to Orlando over the next few days, the official "Star Wars" site will also be live streaming several of the panels online.
Plan a visit to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
One glance at the new Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts and you'd be forgiven for thinking it was concept art for an upcoming "Star Wars" film. The design of the building very much mimics the science fiction empire it's built on. Set to open in 2021 in downtown Los Angeles and fully funded by Lucas to the tune of $1 billion, the museum will hold his expansive personal collection of paintings, photography, illustration, cinematic art and digital art.
As you might expect, this collection of 40,000 items will also include a wide variety of "Star Wars" models, costumes, artwork and other priceless memorabilia. For the budding filmmaker who might produce the next great superhero, survival thriller or science fiction franchise, the museum will also act as a giant classroom.
"There will be two screening rooms," board chairwoman (and Lucas' wife) Mellody Hobson told the LA Times. "Our sense is there will be a cinematheque, so films will be shown every day and that will be a part of the function of the building. There will be artists in residence, a library for research – obviously a great resource for college students, PhD students, high school students. And there will be educational facilities and classrooms that will be used in the furtherance of whatever we might be teaching at that time."
Strap on a VR headset and join the rebellion
Thanks to the world of virtual reality, traveling to a galaxy far, far, away is as easy as strapping on a headset and picking up a controller. No less than five VR games are either available or in development, including an augmented reality experience from secretive startup Magic Leap.
According to founder and CEO Rony Abovitz, the son of Israeli immigrants to the U.S., Magic Leap's collaboration with Lucasfilm's ILMxLab has produced some "really crazy moments."
“One-to-one scale ships and characters, things where you suddenly feel like you’re there," he told Wired. "I could be looking at somebody, and there’s also a ship taking off and a droid running around – like you walked onto the set, but it’s all real.”
The Playstation VR and its library of immersive titles also includes a Rogue One VR mission as part of the popular "Star Wars: Battlefront" series.
"If you grew up with Star Wars and have always wondered what it’d be like to pilot an X-Wing through an asteroid field, take down waves of TIE fighters, and go head to head with a massive Imperial Star Destroyer, Rogue One VR is probably the closest you’ll be able to get right now," gushed IGN critic Brian Altano.
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