Why Isn't Disneyland Getting a New Marvel-themed Land?
Will Disney ever do anything more with Marvel at its U.S. theme parks?
That's the question I address in my newspaper column this week, Why so little love for Marvel at the Disneyland Resort?
Earlier this month at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney did not announce any major new Marvel-themed attractions for the Disneyland Resort, even as it announced new lands based on Star Wars for Disneyland and Walt Disney World and announced a Toy Story Land and detailed new attractions based on Frozen and Avatar for Disney World. Theme Park Insider readers already know that Disney does not hold the rights to use major Marvel characters at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, thanks to Marvel's long-standing deal with the Universal Orlando Resort.
But why can't Disney do something with Marvel in California, where it does own the theme park rights to these characters? In my column, I respond that the answer comes down to two issues: space and demographics. Even with a new 5,000-space parking structure coming online in the next few years, Disneyland simply doesn't have the parking capacity to handle the extra crowds that a new Star Wars Land and a Marvel Land would bring. That's the space problem.
So why Star Wars instead of Marvel? That's the demographics. Right now, Star Wars' demo skews older than Marvel's. But with new movies on the way, Disney is betting that Star Wars will extend its appeal to younger visitors, while retaining and even deepening its appeal to older visitors. That would give Star Wars a broader demographic appeal than Marvel. Throw in the fact that Disney can spread the development cost of a new Star Wars Land by building on both coasts, and going with Star Wars becomes the easier choice for Disneyland.
Granted, if Disney had abundant open in space in Anaheim, it probably would go ahead and build both lands, using Marvel to appeal to whatever segment of the market like Marvel but doesn't care for Star Wars, and to lengthen visits from fans of both. But Disney doesn't have that kind of space in Anaheim. It does in Florida, but it doesn't have the rights to use Marvel there. If Marvel is going to expand its theme park presence in Florida, it will happen at Universal Orlando.
And that is why American theme park fans aren't getting a Marvel-themed land at a Disney theme park resort.
This is why Marvel is more than happy to work with Universal on their upgrades to Marvel Superhero Island. Great write up, Robert.
I often wonder if Disney is that bothered that Universal has the Florida rights to Marvel.
I think that disney will eventually bring a marvel themed land to Anaheim but in a couple of years time after Star Wars land has opened up. I would predict that it would go behind the tower of terror in california adventure park as there is space to put a ride or two in their if they got rid of the parking. Hopefully something will be announced for marvel at the next d23 expo.
Why not build Marvel in Anaheim and Star Wars in Orlando? Then they could have both?
Robert: I would love to see an article on the expected or hoped future of Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Let's say that Star Wars Land will open in 2020. What will then become of the Innoventions building? Will Star Tours remain where it is currently located? Or will it move?
I'm pretty confident we'll be getting a Marvel Land in California as part of that $1 billion investment, but I'm not surprised we aren't getting one right now. It makes sense to focus on one project at a time, and since Star Wars has a larger fan base and is a proven franchise (plus Disneyland needs new attractions), it makes a lot of sense to go with that one first. Marvel Land is likely the next big project for DCA and I'm guessing some work has already started, but Disney is waiting until they're confident phase three isn't going to kill the franchise before pulling the trigger. They could also be trying to get the rights back from Universal so they can develop the land for Florida as well, though I'm more inclined to believe that is fan speculation. That money has to be spent by 2024, so as long as the franchise doesn't decline in the near future Marvel Land will likely be the big announcement at either the 2017 or 2019 D23 and open in 2022/2023.
So this doesn't get off track on Disney getting Marvel rights back in Orlando. Asked in an interview in "JULY 2015" if Universal would ever sell the Marvel rights, Thomas Williams, Universal's Theme Park Chairman, answered with one word: "No"...As Stan Lee often stated, "nuff said".
I'm not sure about this article. A lot of rumors were circulating about a Marvel land for DCA prior to the Expo. It could be a timing thing as to when to announce... Disney knows anything that CA gets that FL does not makes a lot of people upset and whiny. So it would be dumb to announce at an event intended to make everyone happy and excited.
Ya know, it is hard to build anything Marvel since Hulk Smash everything they try to build.... HULK SMAAAAAAASH!!!
Will Disneyland get a Marvel land, or at least a Marvel-themed ride, some day? Perhaps. But at some point Disneyland needs Orange County to work with it on developing a mass transit plan for the resort so that Disney isn't trapped in an endless process of buying land to build more parking garages, further choking area roads and highways at peak times.
I also think a Marvel land is something that will eventually come to DLR, but Star Wars seems to be the focus now.
I still think Star Wars and Marvel would have been better suited as the big draw at a third gate in California. I just can't imagine what it will be like in Disneyland once the new Star Wars area opens. It's already nearly impossible to move through the park especially during parades and fireworks. Time will tell but I'm afraid the overall quality of the guest experience at Disneyland theme park will suffer due to excess.
It is foolish for Disney to leave money on the table by not developing Marvel at Disneyland Resort. Even with a lack of parking spaces, what will a third park bring to congestion? Certainly, they must triple their parking spaces to an additional 5k at Harbor Blvd and another 10k at Mickey & Friends.
Given the parking and infrastructure crunch, why wouldn't Disney look into creating more convenient transportation options between Los Angeles and Disneyland, perhaps a similar system to LA's FlyAway buses? Buses could leave from Transit hubs like LAX and Union Station every hour or so and charge a small fee like $5-10 roundtrip, then provide Disney-related entertainment on the way down. My friends and I on the Westside of LA would happily uber to LAX or ride the metro to Union Station then catch a bus if it meant not having to drive and/or sit in traffic. Or they should just build a monorail. :P
I think there's more to it than that... There's the mixed messaging angle, don' want people to confuse the universal and disney parks by thinking marvel is at the other park... plus whatever disney prepares for marvel, it not only has to match what Universal has, it has to blow it out of the water in order to avoid negative comparisons.
There are other reasons Disney doesn't want to bother with Marvel right now, the main one probably being that they don't want to be compared to Universal unfavorably. Which they certainly would be because SPIDER-MAN IS STILL CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST RIDES IN THE WORLD!!! Disney KNOWS it can't compete with that. Or with Hulk. They just aren't in the innovation business anymore, especially considering all they have to do is build a new meet-n-greet and then raise prices AGAIN.
An easy introduction of Marvel to Disney would be to add The Iron Man Experience in Disneyland's Tomorrowland to replace Star Tours. Its practically the same thing as Star Tours with an Iron Man theme. I saw this idea mentioned in the LA Times and I thought it was great. To me it would seem disjointed to have a Star Wars Land and still have Star Tours in Tomorrowland. It would be nice if Universal would re-theme the Hulk to something else so that Disney could build an Avengers attraction at its parks. It would be a way to share the brand. Disney could focus on The Avengers and Universal could build attractions with Spiderman, Fantastic 4 The X Men. Marvel seems like a big enough brand for both companies to benefit from it. Imagine if Universal and Disney were building Marvel attractions. It probably wont happen but I wouldn't be against it.
Are you basing this off some inside knowledge or just the fact they didn't announce at D23? If you are basing this off no announcement I think you are short sighted. They could easily announce at the next D23 in 2 years. The garage should be first priority.
Space is the issue for Disneyland... but it's not an issue in DCA, where Marvel is set to go.
I'd prefer if marvel stayed with universal for parks anyway, and that includes California though I know it won't happen. They make more thrilling rides, and superheros lend to exciting rides very well. Don't get me wrong I think Star Wars should have exciting rides too, but I just wouldn't want to go on an all ages hulk coaster. Give me the real deal. Spider man is more action packed than any Disney ride I can think of. The one spot this could be a mistake is that these movies are all incredibly popular right now. A marvel land, with all the characters acting their movie roles, to get immersed in this giant world marvels created through so many films now, would be a dream come true for me. How about it Disney? Let universal make the marvel world we all dream about? You'll still make money off it anyway. Just don't close dr doom because I love that ride however basic it may be. It's just a cool concept to help Dr doom beat the fantastic four
RE: Disneyland Resort Magical Express
Maybe we'll see some Marvel attractions in the parks by 2025 -- in other words, some time after the opening of Star Wars Land, which is their top priority right now.
Hong Kong Disneyland was rumoured to get Star Tours 2 until after Disney purchased Lucasfilm and the site for Star Tours 2 turned into Iron Man Experience. Clearly Disney had bigger plans for Star Wars even back then.
The question I have is, sure I don't think a "land" would be possible. But at least a ride? I mean how is Hong Kong getting an Iron Man Experience, but we're not getting anything? Innoventions could be the perfect place to set a Stark Expo, especially since the most "innovative" thing at Innoventions at this point is an Xbox 360 with Kinect...
Maybe Universal will just buy Marvel theme park rights and expand it to California
Whatever the actual reasons, I don't see how Marvel is a fit with Disney parks at all, or Disney in general, for that matter (Disney don't even put their own name in Marvel's movies). When I think of Marvel attractions or any kind of theme park presence, I immediately think of Universal parks. Arguably Star Wars is kind of compatible with Disney, but Marvel is rather different in every way and really has no place. If Disney ever decide to create Marvel attractions at the Disneyland Resort, then I hope that it's all in a separate park devoted to Marvel instead of getting shoehorned where it doesn't belong. Or better yet, license Marvel even more to Universal Studios on the west coast.
They could incorporate some Marvel attractions into Tomorrowland. Transform Innoventions into Stark Industries, putting in the Iron Man ride that Hong Kong is getting, and give Buzz Lightyear a Guardians of the Galaxy overlay.
I think it might also take the park way from its core attractions. Ok you have Indiana jones andnow Star Wars. But those have always had long histories with both parks. DW can't have it and it's known to be with universal. Just think it would be a bit weird having Thor standing there at disneyland getting picture with kids.
I was under the impression that Disney World couldn't use any Marvel properties currently in use at Universal Orlando. So, I thought they could use Guardians of the Galaxy and that was part of the reason for developing that property. Am I wrong there?
Parking is the Jafar to Disneyland's Aladdin. :P
Amusing post, Gabriel.
I can see that Disney doesn't have the space at Disneyland, but why not put Marvel into DCA? There is definitely some space over near the Hollywood Backlot section that could be used for Marvel. They need to keep Tower of Terror, but a lot of the space should be suitable in California.
I think there's an ownership issue too - I could be wrong here, but I think while Disney brought Marvel into the main company, Lucasfilm is actually a separate company they own and after 5 years could be bought by someone else (eg if George Lucas wants to get it back). So they're making lots of content and lots of product really quickly so that when the 5 years is up Lucasfilm's value is out-of-reach of most people and definitely much more than the $4bn they paid for it. Not that anyone's really going to buy Lucasfilm but reading between the lines on articles from around the purchase it does look like certain conditions had to be met.
Gabriel: Did you read the OC Register? The poor are using mass transit even less then before. Even if they build it, they will suffer from low ridership. And mass transit won't bring thousands of guests to the gates quickly enough. If parking runs out, Disney must either use the lots at the Convention Center and Anaheim Stadium. Only shuttle busses can quickly transport them. My feelings is why won't Disney build more parking structures. The parking fees pays for itself and pays to keep the guest within its properties. Mass transit is more an impediment and costly. Their goals may not be fully inline with Disney's goals.
Ian, what you said make no sense. Disney owns both companies. It doesn't make one any more or less sell-able than the other.
Just to reiterate, the space issue at the Disneyland Resort is PARKING, not the availability of attraction space around DCA. Disneyland needs new parking spaces before it builds any new E-tickets. And it will need more parking than it is planning to build in order to support future E-tickets after Star Wars Land.
"the space issue at the Disneyland Resort is PARKING"
Let's move away from mass transit and Disney shuttling people in from the airports cuz THEY WON'T MAKE A DENT IN THE PROBLEM. Most tourists who come to Disneyland don't come to Disneyland ONLY. They want to go to the beach and Hollywood and probably Universal and maybe Knotts and maybe Six Flags and possibly Griffith Park and maybe to a water park and so on. THEY WANT CARS! This isn't WDW, which has enough to do for a weeklong trip. Only truly sad human beings could find a way to fill out a week at DLR.
Mass transit is a great option, but obviously goes far beyond what Disney can provide on their own.
In Anaheim alone, you have Disneyland, the Convention Center, Anaheim Stadium, and Honda Center. They are all spaced apart from each other. The customers are coming from all parts of Southern California from four counties like Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego. Mass transit wouldn't service them realistically. Anaheim has a big tourist industry, but people don't use mass transit to go to jobs or do their daily living. Thus, the underlying need to build a system in Orange County just isn't going to be possible or convincing.
The Mickey and Friends parking structure has a direct on-ramp to the freeway 5. I expect other parking structures to have direct on-ramps and dedicated detours.
All this "parking lot way far away" crap is idiotic (UNLESS this parking lot gets direct access via I-5 North). Disney needs to get over that open parking lot just to the south of the current garages. Building a new garage there means they don't have to create some new transportation method to get people into the parks. And they'd need a lot less infrastructure. They could build a smaller garage for the Disneyland Hotel and one for Cast Members. Yeah, it'll be a sea of garages over here, but are open parking lots all that attractive? It'd be easy to just use the bottom floor as an extension of Downtown Disney. This way the new land can be used for backstage stuff or even a new hotel.
They should pull Star Wars now, it's a complete travesty they plan on adding such an non-Disney creation to the crown jewel park.
Robert, while you have a good point about the space issue (heck, it's not just Disneyland, look at the Anaheim Convention Center's growing pains!), I think you're giving far too much credit to the demographics issue. I'm part of that "older visitor" demographic that you claim has a stronger connection to Star Wars. Just one problem: I'm NOT a Star Wars fan. And I'm not the only older visitor who doesn't care about Star Wars but DOES love Marvel. Marvel Comics has been around a lot longer than Star Wars, after all. Based on my own observations, I think the demographic tends to a more even split between older and younger fans, and I think that Disney realizes this, too.
Disney and Marvel, is PURELY a financial (stockmarket) deal.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.