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Disney to build Star Wars, Toy Story lands at Hollywood Studios

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Disney CEO Bob Iger says Star Wars is getting its own themed land at Disney parks.

Iger announced at Disney's D23 Fan Expo on Saturday that the 14-acre attraction will be built at Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. It represents the largest parks expansion ever.

Iger did not disclose costs or a construction timetable, although Disney has 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.

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.

The expansion plans, which have been expected for months, were announced before a crowd of 7,800 at a biennial gathering of Disney fans in Anaheim called D23 Expo. 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, director of Jurassic World, to direct a Star Wars movie planned for release in 2019.

The Toy Story land at Disney's Hollywood Studios will be based on the the character Andy's back yard, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Guests will get the impression that they have shrunk to the size of a toy. The land will include two attractions — a Slinky Dog family coaster and a ride on which green aliens will pull visitors around for a spin, the Sentinel reported.

The newspaper also reported that the existing Star Tours at Hollywood Studios will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Star Wars Launch Bay, an interactive experience, will open later this year. It will include exhibits, props, costumes and artwork, along with games. A new seasonal event called Season of the Force beginning in early 2016 will include a new fireworks spectacular set to the score of the Star Wars movies on weekend nights.

Information from the Associated Press, the New York Times and the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report.

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