Disney to bring more 'Star Wars' attractions to its theme parks

Image: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) undergoes Yoda's Jedi training in "The Empire Strikes Back"

In a conference call with analysts on Tuesday, CEO Bob Iger revealed that the Walt Disney Company is developing new attractions based on George Lucas's sci-fi franchise. Other brands recently acquired by the studio, such as "Indiana Jones," are also expected to inspire new attractions for Disney parks.

As early as next year, possibly ahead of the release of J.J. Abrams' "Episode VII" in December, certain Disney parks (the CEO did not specify which ones) will be updated with new "Star Wars" attractions. There could even be plans for an entire theme park area dedicated to the world of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

"Indiana Jones," which is already represented at some of Disney's theme parks through a roller coaster and a live stunt show, is also expected to become more present in the parks over the coming years now that Disney has acquired LucasFilm.

Stepping up the presence of some of its most popular franchises is seen as a way to draw more visitors to its parks. As Iger noted, when new attractions are attached to a franchise, "the likelihood of their success is greater."

Currently, visitors to Disney parks around the world will find only one "Star Wars"-themed attraction, the popular Star Tours, an interstellar flight simulator developed in the late 1980s in partnership with George Lucas himself.

On July 10, the company opened a new area of Disneyland Paris dedicated to "Ratatouille," which is set in the French capital. This new "land," Disney's term for a themed area within one of its parks, includes a new 4D simulator attraction, the only one of its kind worldwide, which allows visitors to experience the rat's adventures. There is also a restaurant, and a souvenir shop is expected to open soon, all within a distinctly Parisian decor.

Elsewhere, lands dedicated to "Toy Story" (Hong Kong and Paris) and to "Cars" (California) have been successful at attracting visitors to Disney parks, Iger said.

Disney's recent acquisition of the "Avatar" franchise should only reinforce the trend. Attractions based on James Cameron's blockbuster are expected to open at Disneyworld's Animal Kingdom in Orlando as early as next year.

In the future, new attractions based on Marvel superheroes could also be introduced. The possibilities are virtually endless, as Iger proudly reminded those on the call: "We don't have to license from third parties. We own them all."