Walt Disney Co has planned to bring Star Wars from a galaxy far, far away to California and Florida in the form of two theme park expansions.
One of Disney's largest park expansions, the 14-acre (6-hectare) Star Wars lands at Anaheim, California's Disneyland and Orlando, Florida's Walt Disney World would introduce a new planet from the intergalactic film saga, the company said on Saturday.
The project would feature two new rides, including one where participants could take control of the Millennium Falcon spaceship, as well as the Cantina, the infamous hub of rogue smugglers and traders in the films.Construction would begin at Disneyland in 2017, while a start date for Disney World was not set.
Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said that all the employees would be dressed as if they are characters in the Star Wars universe. (Mindy Schauer/ The Orange County Register via AP)
Disney announced several other park upgrades at its annual D23 Expo, a fan convention, including an 11-acre (4.5-hectare) Toy Story land at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Disney did not comment on costs.
The company spent $1 billion to build a 12-acre (5-hectare) Cars Land that debuted at Disney's California Adventure park in 2012. It has planned to open a $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai next year.The announcement of Star Wars lands, made by Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger, came as fans geared up for the December release of The Force Awakens, the opening film in a new Star Wars trilogy. The first Star Wars movie was released in 1977 and became embedded in pop culture.
Disney fan Charles Muranaka rides a Star Wars display at the Disney D23 EXPO 2015 held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California on August 14, 2015. The three day event showcases all things Disney and is held every two years. (AFP Photo/ Mark Ralston)
Harrison Ford, who reprised the role of Han Solo, received a standing ovation at the fan convention and led the cast of the new film, including Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o and British newcomer John Boyega.
"It's a great thing to be here with you, who made this whole thing happen. I couldn't be happier," Ford told about 7,500 fans.
Disney also showcased star talent to build buzz for other films.
Johnny Depp swaggered through the hall dressed as his Pirates of the Caribbean character Captain Jack Sparrow, as fans were told that Orlando Bloom's character, Will Turner, would return for 2017's fifth instalment of the franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Nyong'o was joined by actor Ben Kingsley, newcomer Neel Sethi and director Jon Favreau for the upcoming computer-generated and live-action retelling of The Jungle Book. Early footage showed scenery of Mowgli's jungle and Baloo the bear, voiced by Bill Murray, singing the movie's 'Bare Necessities.'