Disney announces 'Star Wars' theme parks

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'Stars Wars' Theme Park Excitement


Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn't need to do much to make a splash at D23.

In fact, director J.J. Abrams and his new cast, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong'o, only had to walk onstage to send the crowd into a frenzy -- and that was all before Harrison Ford stepped out, at which point the crowd lost their minds. Which was good, because they didn't share any new footage or news about the movie.

But there was one huge announcement: Disney is creating a Star Wars theme park!

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"We're bringing Star Wars to life in a big way," CEO Bob Iger revealed. "And I mean really big." At 14 acres, it's set to be the largest single-themed land expansion ever and will be built at both of Disney's Hollywood Studios theme parks in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California.

Iger said the park will "transport guests to a whole new planet... one of the last stops before wild space," will include a cantina (of course), and one of the two signature attractions will let you drive the Millennium Falcon. Oh, and FYI, they're now hiring!

We also got a first look at the cast of Rogue One. Felicity Jones, in a Han Solo-like outfit and scarf -- at least we think it was a scarf? -- was standing at the center of her team, which includes Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsoh, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen. The cast will also include Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker.

Meanwhile, Disney chief Alan Horn announced that Colin Trevorrow, who directed the box office smash, Jurassic World, will helm Episode IV after Rian Johnson (Looper) tackles the Force Awakens sequel.

"This is not a job or an assignment," Trevorrow said in a statement released by Disney. "It is a seat at a campfire, surrounded by an extraordinary group of storytellers, filmmakers, artists and craftspeople. We've been charged with telling new stories for a younger generation because they deserve what we all had -- a mythology to call their own."

"We will do this by channeling something George Lucas instilled in all of us: boundless creativity, pure invention and hope," he added.

Bryce Dallas-Howard, who Trevorrow directed in Jurassic World, told ET that she's happy with Disney's choice. "Colin is a filmmaker who is really masterful at juggling a lot of different elements while also staying focused on what is most essential about a story and so he's kind of the perfect guy for a film like that," she said at D23.

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While it'll be a few years before production begins on Episode IX, Trevorrow will begin working with artists and his fellow Star Wars directors at Lucasfilm later this year.

The news comes after Abrams recently confirmed he would not be returning. "I am the temporary captain of this ship that George [Lucas] built," he said. "No, I'm not going to direct Episode IX, as much as I am deeply envious of anyone who gets to work with this group of people on the future movies."

Photos of the new Star Wars BB-8 droid:

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BB-8 Star Wars droid
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Disney announces 'Star Wars' theme parks
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: (L-R) Droid builder Oliver Steeples, director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and moderator Anthony Breznican with R2-D2 and BB-8 onstage during Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: Droid BB8 on display inside the 'Star Wars The Force Awakens' exhibit on Day One of Disney's 2015 Star Wars Celebration held at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: Inside the 'Star Wars The Force Awakens' exhibit on Day One of Disney's 2015 Star Wars Celebration held at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: Actor Oscar Isaac attends Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
In this July 24, 2015 photo, an employee at Sphero, a fast-growing toy robotics company, works surrounded by Star Wars toys and posters, at the company headquarters in Boulder, Colo. The company has collaborated with Lucasfilm-parent Disney to develop the BB-8, a droid character which will be featured in “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this July 24, 2015 photo, Sphero co-founder and CTO Ian Bernstein works on a project at the fast-growing toy robotics company Sphero, in Boulder, Colo. The company has collaborated with Lucasfilm-parent Disney to develop the BB-8, a droid character which will be featured in âStar Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.â (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Visitors look at the Star Wars rice paddy with film characters, BB8 (L), C-3PO (C) and R2-D2 (R) in Inakadate village in Aomori prefecture on August 1, 2015. The Star Wars rice paddy was made to commemorate the upcoming film 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' which will be released in December. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
A new Star Wars Nebuta float featuring Rey, Kylo Ren and BB-8 (L) moves beside traditional Nebuta float (R) during the eve of the Nebuta summer festival in Aomori city, Aomori prefecture on August 1, 2015. Four Star Wars Nebuta floats were introduced to commemorate the Star Wars series new movie, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' which will show in world wide from December this year. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: R2-D2 (L) and BB-8 attend Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
In this July 24, 2015 photo, project managers Bryan Rowe, right, and Bill Cullen, play with Sphero remote controlled toys at Sphero, a fast-growing toy robotics company, in Boulder, Colo. The company has collaborated with Lucasfilm-parent Disney to develop the BB-8, a droid character which will be featured in “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this July 24, 2015 photo, examples of the remote controlled ball toy called Sphero sit are held by an employee at Sphero, a fast-growing toy robotics company in Boulder, Colo. The company has collaborated with Lucasfilm-parent Disney to develop the BB-8, a droid character which will be featured in “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this July 24, 2015 photo, an employee at Sphero, a fast-growing toy robotics company, plays with the remote controlled Sphero toy, at the company's headquarters in Boulder, Colo. The company has collaborated with Lucasfilm-parent Disney to develop the BB-8, a droid character which will be featured in “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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