With the Walt Disney Co.’s hot property Star Wars very much the focus of the entertainment empire’s D23 Expo fan fest, the three day event launched Friday with an award for the space saga’s creator, George Lucas.

Accepting the Disney Legend Award, Lucas pointed out that his association with the company goes back much further than three years ago when he sold his Lucasfilm, and the Star Wars franchise, to Disney for $4 billion.

“I first visited Disneyland 60 years ago on the second day it was open and I've been back every year since,” said Lucas, who has worked since the 1980s as a consultant and producer on Disney theme park attractions including Michael Jackson show “Captain Eo” and the Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure rides.

Presenting the award, Disney chief executive Bob Iger promised the audience at Anaheim Convention Center lots of announcements at the event about the future of Star Wars, though he did not address growing speculation about potential theme park attractions built around the franchise.

There’s more Star Wars news coming Saturday. The highlight of D23’s second day will be a special presentation for hotly anticipated blockbuster-to-be “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the seventh film in the franchise.

D23 organizers have set aside an area outside the main convention hall where thousands of fans are expected to sleep overnight to secure a coveted spot for the presentation.

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