Disney theme parks in Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California are set to receive galaxy-sized Star Wars-themed expansions, CEO Bob Iger announced at the D23 Fan Expo on Saturday afternoon.
Orlando’s Hollywood Studios and Anaheim’s Disneyland will each receive a 14-acre Star Wars-themed add-on in what Iger called “the largest single-themed land expansion ever” at the parks, according to Variety.
“These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet,” Iger said, noting that the new areas would be “occupied by many inhabitants; humanoids, aliens and droids… the attractions, the entertainment, everything we create will be part of our storytelling.”
The announcement comes as excitement builds for the December 18 release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, the first new film in the official Star Wars canon since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.
Many had expected more Star Wars integration into Disney theme parks after the company acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.
Describing the new areas as a “jaw-dropping new world,” Iger reportedly said they would feature two signature attractions: a ride where guests can pilot Han Solo’s iconic spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, and an adventure where guests could take part in a “climactic battle between the First Order and the resistance.”
Disney’s iconic roller coaster Space Mountain will also get an update to become “Hyperspace Mountain,” during a seasonal shift the company is calling the “Season of the Force.”
Disney theme parks contained just one Star Wars-themed attraction for decades; Star Tours, which first opened in 1987. That ride will also reportedly be upgraded with characters and storylines from the new film.
The Star Wars portion of the Expo also featured appearances from director J.J. Abrams and new castmembers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and Lupita Nyong’o.
Harrison Ford reportedly made a surprise appearance and received a standing ovation from the thousands in attendance.
“It’s a great thrill to be here with you, who made this whole thing happen,” Ford said, according to Variety. “I couldn’t be happier. Thank you so much.”