Disney Wows Fans With Plans for ‘Star Wars’ Attractions


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An artist’s rendering of the “Star Wars”-themed attractions planned for Disney’s amusement parks in Anaheim, Calif., and Orlando, Fla.

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Disney Parks, via Getty Images

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sorry, Mickey: The next decade at Disney’s theme parks in the United States will largely be about Luke Skywalker.

Robert A. Iger, the Walt Disney Company’s chief executive, on Saturday announced what he called “jaw-dropping” plans to bring “Star Wars” attractions to two theme parks. The entertainment conglomerate will build 14-acre “lands” dedicated to the intergalactic movies at Disneyland here and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a park inside Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

He did not disclose costs or a construction timetable, although Disney has already been preparing the properties for expansion. Last month, for instance, Disney won a 30-year exemption on ticket taxes from Anaheim in return for a pledge to spend at least $1 billion on new rides and a 5,000-car parking structure.

Mr. Iger said the new “Star Wars” areas — designed to look like “a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space” — would each have two major rides, a battle experience based on elements of an upcoming “Star Wars” movie and an attraction that will put patrons behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon. There will also be a version of the franchise’s famed Mos Eisley Cantina in each location.

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“Star Wars” stormtroopers were displayed at the Disney D23 expo on Friday.

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Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The expansion plans, which have been expected for months, were announced before a crowd of 7,800 at a biennial gathering of Disney fans here called D23 Expo. Mr. Iger called the theme park projects the “next chapter” in Disney’s ownership of Lucasfilm, which it bought in 2012 for $4 billion.

Attendees of the convention seemed satisfied with the news, which came in lieu of any new footage from the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which arrives in theaters in December. Disney also announced that it had hired Colin Trevorrow, the director of “Jurassic World,” to direct a “Star Wars” movie that is planned for release in 2019.

In lavish D23 Expo presentations on Friday and Saturday, Disney revealed first-look footage and early artwork from seven upcoming animated films and 11 planned live-action films.

Notably, most of Disney’s new movies are being directed by men. Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” a drama about a Ugandan girl who strives to be a champion chess player, was Disney’s only offering from a woman out of the 18 films that were previewed. (There are many female producers involved with Disney’s slate, however.)

The company trotted out stars like Harrison Ford, Lupita Nyong’o, Chris Evans, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Mackie, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pine, Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp to promote its cinematic lineup. Mr. Depp arrived in costume as Capt. Jack Sparrow, his character from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, and threw grapes at the crowd.

Only one of the coming live-action movies got a tepid reaction — a period thriller about an ocean rescue called “The Finest Hours” — and the crowd was particularly enthusiastic about “Captain America: Civil War,” which will group together at least eight Marvel superheroes, including Ant-Man. Also receiving a raucous reception was Disney’s live-action “Jungle Book,” which features realistic-looking talking animals.



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