|Group pic at Skywalker Ranch's main house. © 2008 AWN Inc.|
Once arriving at Skywalker Ranch’s breakfast area, after much more sleep than I had on my last visit, many of the tour members were already having a bite to eat before starting the hectic three-screening day. Madame Tutli-Putli’s Chris and Maciek had already enjoyed the Ranch’s bikes, cycling around the beautiful grounds on the brisk February morning. Peter and the Wolf’s Suzie and Hugh took advantage of the one site fitness center. Hugh had a change to be rescued by a fireman from the Ranch’s private fire station when he accidentally locked himself out of the gym in his bare feet. With a 9 am screening set, we headed out to the tech building around 8:30. Some of the late risers like Josh and James used the courtesy bikes as a way to get some exercise and catch up with the group.
|The nominees the movie treasures on display. © 2008 AWN Inc.|
During the screening, the tour group split into two to tour the main house. Despite having seen the sights last year, it doesn’t diminish the wonder at all, especially when accompanied by a group who have never experienced it before. Adjectives like “awesome” and “insane” wafted through the air. And many of the members had made “guess, where I am right now” calls the night before. When you enter through the large ornately glassed front doors, the Tiffany chandeliers and redwood walls are striking, but the element that instantly draws people in is the showcase featuring precious movie memorabilia like Indiana Jones’ hat and whip, several lightsabers, an AT-AT walker model and Charlie Chaplin’s hat and cane.
|Why do I fell deja vu as James Braithwaite poses in front of this Maxwell Parish painting. © 2008 AWN Inc.|
|Oh that's why. Roger Allers posing on last year's tour. © 2007 AWN Inc.|
I noticed that the original paintings have rotated around the house with a unique Norman Rockwell, depicting a man tenderly holding a woman with a bandaged hand, above the fireplace in the main sitting room and the original Maxfield Parrish moved to the library. New lighting has been added that just illuminates the picture, making the images like they are glowing from within.
|The tour poses in the Skywalker Ranch library. © 2008 AWN Inc.|
As we arrived in the amazing library, we met the librarian Jo, who is doing research for Night at the Museum 2. Hugh was particularly taken in by the wealth of books, lingering behind as long as he could after the group began to move on. As we ventured outside, the next stop was the Ranch store, which sits down a path past Lake Ewok, which is used for fire suppression. I asked the Ranch manager Mike Higgins if they ever had to send out search teams for any wayward guests, and he said no, but they often get injuries and when mating season arrives the cattle can get fairly aggressive. Everyone checked out the gift shop and several of us walked out with a bag full of gifts for love ones and us. Maciek proudly walked out with his Indiana Jones hat; a gift from his producer Marcy.
|Josh (far left) answers a question about I Met the Walrus at Skywalker Sound. © 2008 AWN Inc.|
Returning to the Stag Theatre, named after George Lucas’ hometown movie house, the filmmakers fielded questions from the handful of employees who were able to sneak away from their busy schedules to attend. The questions ranged the usual inquires, but Suzie did reveal that the forest set in Peter and the Wolf featured 1,700 trees. One guest asked about Alexander Petrov and Ron said, “he’s not with us,” spurring James to add — “don’t worry Petrov is alive, he’s just not with us now.”