Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Star Wars Weekend Day 2: Presidio of San Francisco #StarWars3D

As if spending a day at Skywalker Ranch wasn't amazing enough, our Star Wars weekend wasn't over just yet. Sunday, January 29 was the second and final day of the Star Wars press junket for the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in 3D on February 10. Since our bodies were still stuck on Eastern time, we woke up nice and early and enjoyed our first breakfast of the day while watching The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network.It was actually the perfect start to our morning.

This day's journey would take us on a quick bus ride over to The Presidio of San Francisco. Once a military post, The Presidio is now a 1,491-acre national park site and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Are. I wasn't really sure what would we see here, but the minute we drove into the park it took my breath away. No matter which direction you turned, you were surrounded by beautiful landscaping, buildings and views of San Francisco.

Now in addition to being a beautiful park, some of George Lucas' companies are headquartered here. The Letterman Digital Arts Center is the combined home of Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm and LucasArts. Leave it to Mr. Lucas to pick such a beautiful backdrop to work at. I could not even imagine getting to go to work here every day. Just amazing.

The first event of the day was breakfast and for my son and I, this would be our second breakfast. Hey what can I say, time changes make us hungry. At the door we were greeted by some Storm Troopers who are members of the local 501st Legion. In order to be a member of The 501st, you must make your own costume.

Once inside we walked to a lovely cafeteria where a delicious Boba Fett breakfast was set up for us. Despite already having a plate of Ritz Carlton pancakes earlier that morning, my six year old had two servings of scrambled eggs as well as more pancakes. I am a little nervous about what he is going to eat like as a teenager. Four teenage boys with big appetites scares me.

While we sat and enjoyed our meal, the Storm Troopers marched around the room. I tried to get W to take a picture with them, but he refused. Much to his surprise, the Storm Troopers came to him.

"These aren't the eggs you're looking for."
We also were thrilled to see everyone's favorite Astromech Droid rolling through the room. R2-D2 made his way around to all the tables, stopping to take photos with us all. I want my own R2-D2 for my home, there is so much he could help me with. After a lot of coaxing, I got my son to take a picture with me and R2.

But wait, there is more! The cafeteria is enclosed by three walls of windows which give you a beautiful view over the grounds at The Presidio. So not only did we get to enjoy a delicious breakfast with some cool Star Wars characters, but we also got to look out the window at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Directly across from where we were was this beautiful dome building that I had spotted when we first arrived. I took a few pictures and kept thinking that it was somewhat familiar looking to me. Finally it hit me. Now maybe it is just a coincidence, but it sure does have a similar style so the dome buildings of Naboo, doesn't it? I wonder if Lucas and the artists were inspired by this building at The Presidio?

Building at The Presidio

Naboo Buildings

After breakfast, the parent bloggers and kids were able to have a round table interview with some of the top guys we had spoken with at Skywalker Ranch: John Goodson of Industrial Light & Magic, Matthew Wood of Skywalker Sound (a.k.a General Grievous) and Craig Derrick of LucasArts.

John Goodson, Matthew Wood and Craig Derrick.

This was mostly a kid driven interviews so all of the kids got to ask them some questions which was neat. My son asked John Goodson about the Death Star models:

W:  What kind of model is the Death Star?
John Goodson:  What kind of model is it? Well, there are a couple different models.  The first Death Star was just a ball, and it had lights inside of it, and it had little fiber optics, but basically it made little windows on it that lit up, and it was about this big. (Uses hands to show size)  And that one got blown up at the end of Episode IV. Then, they made another one for Return of the Jedi, and that one was about four feet across, but it was only half of it.  So because you only saw one side of it, and it has all these sections cut out of it where they're building it.  It's under construction. And it had all kinds of little intricate stuff inside and more of those little fiber optics that made little lights in there.  So, in reality, there were three feet and four feet.
After the interview we got an awesome tour, mostly of the Industrial Light & Magic area. Every hall you walked down, every corned you turned was lined with various models from movies they worked on. And we aren't just talking about Star Wars movies as ILM works on so much more than that. You should recognize these two models, Davy Jones and E.T.

Model of Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Model of E.T.
 As we made our way through the ILM halls, we stopped and peaked into John Goodson's office. This is by far the coolest office ever.

The we made our way into a room with various Star Wars models and I was face to face with Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Even as I recount this story for you all, I still can't believe I was a part of this and got to see so much cool stuff. I mean its Han Solo! In carbonite!

Just a few feet to the left of poor Han was another slab of carbonite, but not one I had ever seen before. Apparently, a fan made this for George Lucas and he liked it so much that he kept it and put it on display. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that this particular fan was trying to show how much people disliked the character of Jar Jar Binks.

Of course, no Star Wars trip would be complete without a Yoda sighting.

As our tour winded down, we were finally at the main event. This is what we were here for: the screening of Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in 3D! It has been so long since I saw a Star Wars movie on a big screen, so I was super excited and I think might have even gotten a few chills. For my son, he had never seen a Star Wars movie in the theater, so he was even more excited! Mostly to see Darth Maul fighting in 3D, of course. We thoroughly enjoyed it and I was told that we need to go see it again with his brothers.

When the movie was over, we knew our amazing weekend was coming to a close. We all headed out to a beautiful courtyard for lunch. Many people had planes to catch, so they quickly grabbed their food and ran for the shuttles. We were fortunate enough to be staying one more night which bought us a little more time to enjoy our lunch. And yes, the Storm Troopers were back!

The centerpiece of this courtyard is a gorgeous water fountain with a statue of Yoda on the top. My husband had told me about it and to look for it, but he thought it was at Skywalker Ranch. So I was glad that we found it here and I was able to snap some pictures for him. Again, I cannot even imagine how great it is to come into work every day to this.

Sadly, our time at the Star Wars press junket was at an end and it was time for us to board the bus and head back to our hotel room. This was one of the most amazing trips ever and I know it is something that my son will never forget. Not many people can say they toured Skywalker Ranch or the Letterman Digital Arts Center, but we can!

Thank you for following along on our fun adventure and don't forget to check out Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in 3D on February 10! May the force be with you.

For more information on Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in 3D be sure to visit the official movie site, like Star Wars on Facebook and follow Star Wars on Twitter (#StarWars3D)

My son and I were guests of 20th Century Fox for this amazing weekend. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Many thanks to 20th Century Fox for giving my son and I the experience of a lifetime!


  1. Truly a once in a lifetime experience. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh my goodness! How cool to see all of those models and I want an office like that too! Love all the photos, thanks for sharing!

  3. Definitely an awesome office, and your "These aren't the eggs you're looking for" caption made me LOL!!!

  4. I have to show these pictures to Matthew. He has recently found Star Wars thanks to our PS3 Legos game and he would love these. Awesome.

  5. My son just peeked over my shoulder and asked at which theme park could he have breakfast with a stormtrooper. Thanks for sharing; it looks like you had so much fun!

  6. You know I love Jar Jar so that carbonite (or whatever it's called) copy of him is hilarious! He is a spaz. This seems awesome.


  7. How.Freakin'. Awesome.

    That looked like way too much fun! LOL! It makes me very excited for Star Wars Weekend in May with my boys.

  8. What an incredible trip! I love all the photos you shared. I felt like I was there. What amazing memories you will have!

  9. This is my new favoritest post ever! That looks like such an unbelievably incredible trip for you and your son! I've been to the Skywalker Ranch and it is gorgeous. And I'm real familiar with that area of San Francisco (my favorite city to visit). Having lunch with Stormtroopers is too damn cool. I'd gladly sit through another awful viewing of Episode I if it meant I got to share that kind of experience with my kids!

    And yeah, that Jar Jar pic is a riot! Thanks for sharing!


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