Top 5 Star Wars Haunted Houses, Part I
Over the past few years, Lucasfilm has been angling – if only slightly – to cover just a bit more of the spooky side of the Star Wars universe. While it’s true that the vast majority of these endeavors have been conducted under the all-ages label – think of IDW’s now-annual Darth Vader’s Castle comic book series, or the fairy tale-esque Dark Legends anthology of short stories – and while it’s true that this pulls way back on the horror content, there is still something of a creepy vibe that shines through, providing a different tone for a mythology that has become so familiar over the past four decades.
And Star Wars fans have known basically from day one that the environments the films (and, now, television shows) depict are endlessly fascinating to explore in other, preferably tactical ways; this explains the long-lived success of the toy or videogame scene, and why the franchise has recently exploded into the realm of theme-park lands and virtual reality. When these two facts combine together, then, it seems only natural for one to daydream about the final frontier of Star Wars interactivity: haunted houses. (It also doesn’t hurt that most haunts will be shut down this season, given the still-raging global Covid-19 pandemic – it makes the fantasizing all the more poignant, doesn’t it?)
Wait – not sold on the whole house premise? More than being a fun, visceral way to experience one facet of Halloween or another, whether that be the traditional ghosts and vampires mythos or specific intellectual properties (such as Netflix’s current The Haunting Of anthology), mazes’ design, craftsmanship, and immersion have, as of late, been refined into an art form all its own. Take, for instance, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort, which has largely been considered the single best Halloween event in the entire country for the past decade; a recent haunted house based on the first season of the immensely popular Stranger Things featured a two-story room that was as detailed and, indeed, the very same size as the set that the production filmed on. (And another HHN haunt, this time for Ghostbusters, relied more on recreating the scenes from the classic 1984 movie rather than delivering outright scares, making the experience more suitable for a wider swath of audience members.) With that kind of budget, fidelity, and eye to detail, just imagine what could be realized from that galaxy far, far away!
Here, then, are the top five locations from the Star Wars canon that would be perfect for such a deep dive in haunted-house form. Below are the first two entries; we’ll cover the final three in our next installment.
The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear was a young readers’ tie-in to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and while it was a rather limited story, narratively speaking, it did manage to introduce a whole host of items that are perfect for a Halloween maze.
Chewbacca is forced to run a dangerous mission for one of Emperor Sheev Palpatine’s closest advisors, which takes him to the planet Ushruu, the home of a small Force cult. The forest that covers the world is shrouded by a blue, fear-inducing fog, which makes it easier for the various predators who live there to scoop their victims up. The deadliest (and strangest) of these creatures turn out to be long, nigh-indestructible tongues that drag prey back to the literally thousands of mouths that cover an ancient, immense being called the Vathyr – an entity that thrives off of the dark side and which serves as the basis for the cult that makes its home in a stone temple above the Vathyr’s giant chasm.
Landing in the titular forest, being chased by its unusual inhabitants, making your way to the Enchantress and her temple, and then finally facing off against the Vathyr itself – The Forest of Fear is a readymade haunt, with a complete beginning, middle, and end. (And the appearances by such Star Wars stalwarts as Chewbacca, Han Solo, and K-2SO are the cherry on top of the experiential sundae.)
4. Lotho Minor
Lotho Minor’s toxic skyline of towering trash heaps – the whole planet, to paraphrase Ric Olié, is one giant garbage dump – not only provides the necessary intimidating visuals for an effective house, but also the equally obligatory scents, which have become, in recent years, one of the most central elements of a successful haunt run-through.
Once guests make their way past the stricken surface, with its marauding Junkers and lumbering refuse incinerator droids and occasional spats of acid rain (water effects are always welcome for an even more immersive, even creepier maze), the real heart of the experience would begin, with the tunnels of the junk world providing for one elongated chase sequence: the defeated and mentally unhinged Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Maul, replete with his spider-droid legs, would systematically pursue visitors down one passageway and up the next, just as audiences got to see in both The Clone Wars and the Return to Vader’s Castle comic book miniseries. There would be cameos by the Anacondan Morley along the way, of course, and then would come the grand climax, in which the fallen apprentice would have his confrontation with – and awakening by – his long-lost brother, Savage Opress, with patrons caught squarely in the middle.
As comics writer Cavan Scott put it, having a “crazy, cackling spider-Maul” is too good of a scary opportunity to pass up – and this is doubly true for a haunted house.
Coming soon — Top 5 Star Wars Haunted Houses, Part 2!
The views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of Coffee With Kenobi, its host, writers, sponsors, or affiliates.
Marc N. Kleinhenz is the editor-in-chief of Orlando Informer, which covers the Central Florida theme parks, and the consulting editor at Tower of the Hand, which specializes in A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO's Game of Thrones. He also has written for 31 other sites (including IGN) and has even taught English in Japan.Powered by Sidelines