With the acquisition of Marvel by the Disney company, many fans of the Walt Disney World theme parks have been wondering if we’ll ever be lucky enough to see this franchise come to the Orlando theme parks. You’ve no doubt heard about the plans to add Marvel attractions and lands to other Disney theme parks around the world, which is certainly an exciting development for the company.
Today I’m going to discover if we can ever expect Walt Disney World to see Marvel additions and what we can expect from this partnership in the future.
Will Walt Disney World Ever Have Marvel?
The number one question we receive in regards to Marvel and Disney is whether Walt Disney World will ever see the introduction of Marvel characters. Disney’s Hollywood Studios park would naturally be the perfect fit for this franchise, but it’s a very complex topic which doesn’t have a quick or easy answer to the question of the parks adding new Marvel attractions. The good news is that we are slowly starting to see Marvel enter the theme parks, but maybe not in quite as dramatic a way as we would like to see.
With the opening of the Avengers Campus in California at the Disneyland Resort, more attention than ever has been on the Walt Disney World parks and their lack of Marvel attractions. However, contracts from the 1990s state that Disney is under strict guidelines when it comes to using this franchise in their parks. There was a contract signed with MCA Inc., who were the owners of the Universal Studios theme parks. If you’ve visited these parks before, you’ll no doubt remember the Marvel Superhero Island part of the park. Here you can see characters such as Captain America, Thor, and Spiderman. This agreement is what is keeping certain characters out of Walt Disney World, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
When does the contract expire with Universal Studios?
As with all things in contracts the time limit is set. Unfortunately, for Disney fans this contract can go on in perpetuity (aka forever) with a few caveats. Be assured Disney is a money driven organization, and will be on the lookout for its best financial interest.
- Disney could offer Universal Studios a boatload of money. (unlikely at this moment)
- Universal closes the Marvel Superhero Island (unsure if they can relocate, but they can’t expand it)
- If Universal stops making agreed upon payments
- Universal mishandles the properties (IE doesn’t keep it updated, ride safety or bad publicity, etc)
If it does any of those items then we might see the rights revert back to Marvel (Disney), and they could then have the option to expand our beloved parks with the Marvel universe we know and love.
Why Can’t Disney Use the Word Marvel?
How Disney uses the word Marvel and the character names is strictly governed by the contracts and licensing rights that they purchased when they acquired the company. When Disney purchased Marvel, they weren’t able to obtain all of the company’s licensing rights. This means that while Disney owns the franchise today, it is still restricted in how it can use the Marvel name with its theme parks.
The company is also restricted in regards to which Marvel characters they can add into the Walt Disney World parks, which is why there are some attractions and characters allowed in Anaheim and the other international theme parks. The contract states that any character that can be found in the Universal Orlando parks cannot be used within Disney’s parks located to the east of the Mississippi River. This is why the Orlando parks are unlikely to see a Marvel land or any major attractions in the near future.
Guardians of the Galaxy at Walt Disney World
The recent opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT has added to the confusion surrounding this topic. Guardians of the Galaxy is a huge part of the Marvel franchise, but they aren’t featured within the Universal Orlando parks. For that reason, the company is allowed to add these characters into EPCOT and for character appearances at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is certainly a good start when it comes to adding Marvel to Walt Disney World, and we are thrilled to see how much guests are enjoying this addition to EPCOT already.
How Much Did Disney Pay for Marvel?
Disney paid a whopping $4 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment back in 2009. The company is one of the world’s most successful movie companies, and they have taken over $22 billion worldwide for the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this date. Disney has more than made their money back when it comes to this investment already, meaning it was one of the smartest moves the company has ever made to continue expanding its offerings to movie goers around the world.
Who Owns Marvel Studios Now?
Since 2009, Disney has owned Marvel Entertainment. This is one of many great investments made during Bob Iger’s time as CEO for the Walt Disney Company. They also went on to purchase Lucasfilm in 2012, which has been another fruitful purchase for the business. Disney has expanded the Marvel Studios offerings since the acquisition, with a heavy presence on Disney+ as well today. It’s been a great time for fans of the Marvel characters, who are excited to see how Disney uses them in the future in the theme parks and movies.
Is Disney Building a Marvel Park?
A Marvel theme park is certainly a dream for many fans of the franchise, but this isn’t something we are expecting to see anytime soon. As you can see from everything we shared above, there’s very little chance of a theme park ever coming to Orlando based on the Marvel movies. With the current contracts in place, it’s unlikely this will change in the future, as Universal Orlando still offers a lot of Marvel-related rides and character greetings for theme park visitors. That being said, we are excited by the additions to the worldwide parks, and from what we’ve seen so far, the Marvel-themed rides look absolutely incredible. We’ll be watching very closely to see if there are any changes in the future in this area, but for now, we are happy to see the new attraction in EPCOT adding a Marvel-themed ride for visitors.
Marvel is one of the world’s most popular movie franchises, and we hope to see more of these characters in the Disney theme parks around the world over the upcoming years. Adding the characters to the Orlando parks is certainly not an easy task, but we are happy to see Guardians of the Galaxy make its way into Epcot. If you are visiting the parks over the next few months, make sure you check out this new attraction, as it looks to be one of the best additions we’ve seen to the resort over the past few years.