Return of the fans: New ‘Star Wars’ film sparking tourism in Arizona city

Dec 15, 2015, 11:42 AM | Updated: Dec 16, 2015, 12:32 pm
A fan dressed as a stormtrooper from "Star Wars" poses in Buttercup Valley, near Yuma, Arizona. (Fa...
A fan dressed as a stormtrooper from "Star Wars" poses in Buttercup Valley, near Yuma, Arizona. (Fan Photo posted to
(Fan Photo posted to

PHOENIX — While the world may be ramping up for the newest chapter in the “Star Wars” saga, one Arizona city is enjoying a jump in tourism thanks to its part in the series’ origins.

“Within the last six months or so, I’ve gotten a substantial uptick in the number of folks looking for photos and so forth,” Ann Walker with the Yuma Convention and Visitors Bureau said.

Part of “Return of the Jedi,” the third film in the saga, was filmed in the sand dunes in the desert west of Yuma. As the excitement for “The Force Awakens” builds, some fans are heading to the city where the nearby battle on Jabba the Hutt’s barge was filmed back in 1983.

Though filmed on the California side of the dunes, most of the cast and crew stayed in Yuma during filming.

“We kind of consider ourselves the gateway to the sand dunes,” Walker said.

While not much remains of the film set off Interstate 8, it still remains a draw for “Star Wars” fans. Most of them have blogged about the experience. Walker said the site’s location, just off the highway, makes it one of the series’ easier sets access.

Walker said some of the set was moved to Yuma, but not preserved.

“There is a house in Yuma where a lot of the lumber went into, apparently,” she said.

KTAR’s Brian Rackham contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Getty Images Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Rep. Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democratic Party criticize Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s move

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego and the Arizona Democratic Party criticized Sen. Kyrsten Sinema after she announced she was changing her affiliation to independent.
10 hours ago
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for Marria...
Kevin Stone

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says leaving Democratic Party won’t change how she serves Arizona

Newly minted independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said her decision to leave the Democratic Party won’t change the way she serves her constituents.
10 hours ago
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)...

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, registers as independent

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Friday she is registering as an independent, leaving the Democratic Party but promising her work won't change.
10 hours ago
FILE - Border Patrol agents patrol along a line of shipping containers stacked near the border on A...
Kevin Stone

Arizona border sheriff backs protesters impeding shipping container installation

A southern Arizona sheriff said protesters have been keeping crews from stacking shipping containers at the U.S.-Mexico border, and he's good with it.
10 hours ago
(AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)...

Guatemalan man facing charges after allegedly assaulting Arizona border patrol agent

A Guatemalan man was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting a border patrol agent while he was illegally crossing the border.
10 hours ago
(Arizona Department of Transportation Flickr Photo)...

No scheduled closures on Phoenix-area freeways for third consecutive weekend

Phoenix-area drivers won't have to worry about closures on freeways for a third straight weekend as there are no scheduled projects.
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Return of the fans: New ‘Star Wars’ film sparking tourism in Arizona city