Fox To Open Amusement Park In Malaysia

Chee Hong, Wikimedia Commons

It looks like Twentieth Century Fox will be opening a new 25-acre theme park in Malaysia. The studio plans to have up to 30 film-themed attractions, including rides based on both “Rio” and “Alien.” So far, we can only guess what the $125 million overhaul of the Malaysian park (pictured above) will look like, but here are some ideas:

  • An “Independence Day” ride that looks like a UFO or flying saucer
  • “Dude, Where’s My Car?” bumper cars
  • A “Cast Away” water park
  • “Glee”- and “Moulin Rouge!”-themed stage shows
  • A “Die Hard” freefall drop
  • An “Avatar”-themed rainforest attraction
  • “Alvin and the Chipmunks” kiddie park

Anything related to “Star Wars” and “X-Men” would also be pretty amazing, as would something related to “The Simpsons,” but Universal Studios already has that covered. I guess we’ll just have to wait until 2016, when the park is slated to open, to see what Fox comes up with.

‘Phantom Menace’ Set Getting Buried By Tunisian Desert

Phantom Menace
Andy Carvin

Darth Vader’s childhood home will soon be covered by a giant sand dune, the BBC reports.

The collection of buildings in the Tunisian desert was used to portray Mos Espa, a spaceport on Tatooine that was home to Anakin Skywalker, later Darth Vader, in “The Phantom Menace.” Unfortunately they were built on a dune field, a large open area where windblown dunes called barchans gradually migrate over the desert.

Scientists studying the movement of the crescent-shaped dunes, slowly pushed in the direction of the prevailing wind, have used the buildings as a marker point. One barchan is now approaching the set and will eventually bury it. Of course, the dune will move on and the buildings will be revealed once again, but the massive weight of the sand may crush the roofs, while the moving sands will abrade the surfaces.

This isn’t the first Star Wars set to be under threat from the harsh terrain of Tunisia. Last year we reported how the childhood home of Luke Skywalker was saved by a group of fans after it was found to be in a state of disrepair.

Who knows? Maybe a small army of science fiction fans, armed with shovels, will descend on Mos Espa and defy nature by moving the barchan in a different direction. May the Force be with them.

(And by the Force I mean the original concept of the Force as a metaphor for the eternal struggle of good vs. evil in all of us, not the lame-ass subatomic virus it became in the later films. Yeah, give me a shovel. I’ll be there.)

Chile’s Valle Nevado Resort Launches Early Bird Promo For North American/UK Skiers

valle nevadoOne of South America’s top ski destinations is Valle Nevado, located just 20 miles east of Santiago, Chile. Already the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, Valle offers access to over 7,000 acres of Andean terrain, as well as a full-service, self-contained resort.

North American and UK skiers can get in on some serious savings with purchase of Valle’s Early Bird Promo packages before March 15. The savings include up to 35% off on lodging, lift tickets, half-board and après ski activities.

Accommodations include three hotels ranging from budget to luxury, dining at all price points, boutiques, a spa/fitness center, and South America’s most modernized lift system, as well as a new gondola.

Valle also offers the continent’s best heli-skiing, with up to 5,000 vertical feet in one run. The resort season is June 28 to late September, so if you’re already mourning the advent of our spring, get in on this deal. Savings include 35% off stays of a minimum of three nights during specific dates; 25% off seven-night stays from July 12-19 and September 13-20; and 20% off minimum three-night stays August 2-16 (at neighboring Tres Puntas Resort only), and August 16 to September 13. Other restrictions apply.

To book a reservation or for more information, contact Valle Nevado reservations at toll-free at 1-800-669-0554 (U.S.), or 1-888-301-3248 (Canada). You can also email reservas@vallenevado.com, or click here.

[Photo credit: Azure PR]

Get inspired watching this heli-skiing clip of Valle Nevado, courtesy of PowderQuestTours:


Orlando Braces For Decepticon Takeover, Wookiee May Intervene

Decepticons Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando announced Thursday a new ride based on the Transformers movies to open next summer. That’s big news for theme park fans around the world.

The new four-minute Transformers ride in Orlando will be entirely in the dark and use 3-D flight simulator technology, said to be the next generation of Spider man, much like Transformer rides already in motion at Universal Studios Hollywood and Singapore.

Continuing a move by theme parks to make rides more experiential, riders are recruited in waiting queue by the Transformers. Their job is to help keep the AllSpark energy source away from the Decepticons who will surely use it to take over Earth. Not everything goes well there though and a high-speed chase/battle to the death (of the Decepticons, not those on the ride) follow.

Perhaps bigger news comes from the magical world of Disney who agreed to buy Lucasfilm, heralding in a new era of Star Wars.

Three more Star Wars movies, the first to open in 2015, are in the works on top of the original films, which have earned $4.4 billion so far.

“I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime,” Lucasfilm founder George Lucas said in a statement reported by Travel Weekly.

It looks as if Star Wars will live on the silver screen and in theme parks too. Already a hit during Star Wars Weekends, Disney looks for more from the Star Wars franchise rolled into Disney products, including theme parks.


[Photo Credit: Flickr user Stephen Gardiner]

‘Star Wars’ Fans Rally To Save Iconic Set In Tunisia




Every single “Star Wars” movie, save “The Empire Strikes Back,” uses the desert landscape and dusty villages of Tunisia as backdrops for the planet of Tatooine, the place where Luke Skywalker grew up. Specifically, Luke lived until the age of 19 at the Lars Homestead, the fictional name for a very real building that was, until recently, in danger of collapse.

To the rescue was neither Luke Skywalker nor George Lucas, but Mark Dermul, an avid “Star Wars” fan from Belgium who has been leading “Star Wars” tours of Tunisia since 2001. On a trip to Tunisia in 2010, Dermul discovered that the rounded hut that served as the exterior of the Lars Homestead in the film was in a state of disrepair. Dermul then set up the Save the Lars Homestead Project, working with the Tunisian Tourist Office and Tunisian government to secure the proper permissions to restore this movie landmark.Save Lars raised $10,000 in 10 months and almost didn’t get realized because of the Arab Spring. At the end of May 2012, however, Dermul and his band of “pioneers” traveled to Tunisia, where they patched and re-plastered the Lars Homestead over the course of several days.


The Lars Homestead in a state of disrepair.


The Lars Homestead after restoration.

In the film, the Lars Homestead is located on the Great Chott Salt Flat, which is in reality Chott el Jerid, a salt flat in southwestern Tunisia. If you want to attempt a visit to the Lars Homestead, the “Star Wars” Wiki, or Wookieepedia, provides directions:

The location is a bit hard to find. From Nefta, take the road to Algeria (but do not enter!). Look for the 26 kilometer marker. If the weather permits, you should even be able to see the set from the main road. It’s only about 900 meters from the marker. However, be mindful of the trails you follow to get there. The surface may be difficult, especially when it has rained. A four-wheel drive shouldn’t have a problem, though. When you drive up to the set, you’ll get a rather eerie feeling, as it is only a small set, but so very pivotal in the saga. And there it is, in the middle of nowhere…”

[Photos Wookieepedia/Save Lars]