This Is Why Walt Disney World Can’t Build Some Marvel-Themed Attractions

Walt Disney World is getting ready to debut its newest attraction at EPCOT this summer, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The new ride is set to be a first-of-its-kind at Walt Disney World with a reverse launch. With the new attraction. Disney fans are going to be asking why there are not more Marvel-themed rides at Walt Disney World, especially with the high praise for Disneyland’s Avengers Campus.

In short, before Disney purchased Marvel, the comic book giant signed a contract with MCA Inc., which owned the Universal Studios theme parks at the time. If you’ve ever been to Universal’s Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, you’ve probably walked through the kitschy ’90s Marvel Superhero Island. Here, guests can meet a variety of characters like Wolverine and Captain America, though they don’t look how fans know them from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The characters look more like their old-school comic-book personas, versus the newer iterations from the MCU.

The contract, plus the fact that Disney didn’t get all of Marvel’s licensing rights is why Disney is very limited on how it’s able to use the word “Marvel” when it comes to the brand, and what characters are allowed to be used at Mundo de Walt Disney. The contract also mentioned that any characters being used by Universal, like Spider-Man and Captain America, cannot be used by The Walt Disney Company east of the Mississippi River, which means Walt Disney World. The agreement is perpetual as long as Universal continues to pay Disney, who bought Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion.

All of that means that characters like Spider-Man can be used by Disney west of the Mississippi River, which is why there’s a Spider-Man attraction at both Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando and Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California.

There are a few loopholes in the contract that Disney has cleverly worked around at Walt Disney World, mostly at Disney Springs. The shopping and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World is not considered a theme park. This is why Disney is free to use characters like Loki on treats from locations like Amorette’s Patisserie, or sell merchandise at Super Hero Headquarters, as long as neither location uses the word “Marvel.” Eagle-eyed fans will notice that Super Hero Headquarters does have the logo for the fictional agency SHIELD, which stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.

When Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens this summer at EPCOT it will be the first Marvel-themed attraction at Walt Disney World. why? The motley crew of galactic superheroes isn’t used at Universal Orlando Resort. The Guardians aren’t part of the Avengers, even though they have appeared in more recent Avengers movies, or the Fantastic Four. Both large groups of characters are used at Universal Orlando Resort.

The new rollercoaster attraction will feature all of the characters fans know, including Glenn Close reprising her role as Nova Prime. After guests get off of the attraction they can make their way to a new merchandise location, Treasures of Xandar. The new EPCOT store will sell a variety of Guardians-themed merchandise without the forbidden “Marvel” name.

Despite the contract, Disney has proven it can create groundbreaking Marvel-themed attractions. Only time will tell if they can continue to capitalize on this at Walt Disney World after Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is open.

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