"Chewie, we're home." So declares Harrison Ford's Han Solo in a new trailer released on Thursday for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the much anticipated return of one the most celebrated movie franchises of all time.

The trailer was the highlight of the annual Star Wars Celebration fan convention, where thousands of fans flocked to see old and new cast members discuss the movie set for release on 18 Dec 2015.

The event gave fans the chance to revel in memorabilia for the past films as well as Force Awakens.

"I'm glad Disney took over, because it just means more merchandise for people, it just means more opportunity for it to spread out to everybody, and for everybody to have a chance to be a part of Star Wars," said fan Stanton Young.

"I love the lore, I love dressing up, just the lightsaber play, just everything, it's just so great, I can't get over it. It's great fun for me. It makes me feel like a kid again," said another fan Torez.

Fans were also given a chance to see director JJ Abrams, who attended the convention and participated in a panel discussion with many of the actors from the film at the end of the day. Walt Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger was also on hand to praise the upcoming film and its director.

"JJ is the perfect director for this property, he is a passionate Star Wars fan. He's someone who respects George Lucas, and Lucasfilm, and Star Wars in the extreme. He is also extremely mindful of the need to both be respectful of the great heritage and the great legacy, but also to innovate and to tell stories in modern ways, because this is 2015, so I think JJ's a great choice for it," said Iger.

The Force Awakens, produced by Disney, picks up 30 years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.