The Star Wars exhibit was half completely awesome and half, to paraphrase Douglas Coupland, very Krusty the clown. From the geek perspective it went to 11. Personal highlights included R2D2, C3PO, Darth Vader costume, lightsabers and of course, Luke’s landspeeder which had a giant sign that said “do not touch” and I desperately wanted to touch it but didn’t want to set a bad example in front of the children. The many, many, many children. More on that in a second.
I also liked the wampa and wished I had my wampa with me so I could show it what it would look like when it grew up.
One thing I thought was hilarious was the little video features they had which in a completely straight-faced Discovery channel manner discussed topics such as what drives the economy of Tattooine, how living things can survive the rugged ecosystem of Hoth or the culture and customs on Kashyyyk and the communication limitations of the Wookie.
I also thought they did a pretty good job of creating an actual exhibit from what is essentially a bunch of props. They had interactive stuff for the kids to do: make robots and play with some sort of magnetic thing like pod racing and ride on a hover chair thing. They also padded it out with some actual real life science, for example a section on prostheses. (Remember both Anakin and Luke lost a limb(s). A lightsaber is not a toy.) Also some stuff on transportation and the maglev train, living in harsh weather conditions and current technology and deep space travel. (They say: not happening anytime soon.)
I was there on a weekday morning shortly after opening so I had zero lines but I got a feel for what a ginormous money making machine this must be ($15 adult, $13 child/elder). There was a tent out front with switchbacks for entrance into the museum. More switchbacks inside. You buy a ticket for a certain time and then wait to be let in. I can’t imagine what it would be like on a crowded day.
I know the exhibit is aimed at kids. I knew kids would be there. I underestimated how many there would be and that they would be at the age too big to be cute and too young to have their shit together when they’re out in public. I’m exaggerating a little for story-telling purposes but they were pretty hopped up and bouncing off each other, roving around the exhibit in loud packs and generally oblivious to anyone else that might be trying to look at/listen to something. More than once I’d be standing there watching a video when a kid would come up and hit all the buttons, stopping and restarting the presentation and then wander off again.
Maybe I should clarify that I entered the exhibit shortly after several classes totaling about 100 kids arrived. When I bought my ticket the cashier warned me so I killed some time in a nearby exhibit that happened to be about aging. That got old quick. (ha ha)
Two good moments. During my first attempt (it took 3 tries) to examine the lightsabers a kid, hunched over the display so no one else could see, said “This is stupid. They don’t even have Yoda’s.” Later I was looking at some sort of model for Luke’s fake hand that we see at the end of episode V and two girls walked up and said, “Ew! That is disgusting.”
On the way out I cruised the gift shop (part 2 of the money making machine) but resisted the urge. I barely have a place for all the Star Wars stuff I already have.
Final review: totally worth it.