Fans will be able to take control of the Millennium Falcon

Credit: (C)2015 Disney/Lucasfilm

The biggest news out of Disney’s D23 fan expo that didn’t have to do with Colin Trevorrow getting hired to direct Star Wars: Episode IX or the cast of Rogue One being officially announced? That Star Wars will soon become part of Disney’s theme parks — Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

“When we bought Lucasfilm three years ago, we were excited about making new Star Wars films, obviously,” Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger told the crowd. “But we were also excited about bringing the characters to every corner of the company.”

Then he announced a new collaboration, long rumored, between Disney Parks and the Star Wars Galaxy. During the D23 Expo presentation, a preview reel showed a hatch on a spacecraft opening and a peaceful galactic city embedded in the mist-shrouded valley of a serene mountain range. Suddenly, a cluster of TIE Fighters screech by overhead.

“We’re bringing Star Wars to life in a big way, and I mean really big,” Iger said as the lights came back up. “We’re creating a jaw-dropping new world, that represents our largest single-themed land expansion ever. We knew it needed to be big, we knew it needed to be great, so we’re going to transport guests to a whole new planet.”

Each new 14-acre land will be a massive expansion for the two parks, although relatively small for an actual planet (unless you count Pluto).

This Star Wars world, as yet unnamed, will be inhabited by humanoids, aliens, and droids, and “is one of the last ports before wild space,” Iger said. “Every store and restaurant will be operated by local inhabitants, making each experience deeply immersive. Nothing in the land will be out of character or stray from mythology. By the way, we’re currently casting for roles, so if you live on the Outer Rim” there maybe a job for you, he joked.

Among the attractions will be a cantina, like the one seen in 1977’s original Star Wars, with familiar creatures from various parts of the series, as well as new beings who have yet to be seen from The Force Awakens.

Star Wars land will have another signature attraction — the ability to take the controls of Han Solo’s starship freighter the Millennium Falcon. Guests will fly on “one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, on a customized secret mission,” Iger said, although it’s unclear just how the ride will be structured.

(The current trend is to have a car on gimbals, dropping, rising, and tilting while a giant screen covering the entire field of vision – and in 3-D — rockets through a fixed point-of-view that dodges a series of obstacles.)

Iger said the Falcon will take visitors into the middle of an aerial battle between the First Order and the Resistance – the new film’s version of the Empire and the Rebellion.

Check out concept art from the new attractions below.

(Contributing: Christopher Rosen.)

Complete D23 Expo coverage

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