Published: April 17, 2015 at 9:07 AM
This year promises to be huge for both Star Wars and Marvel. Yesterday in Anaheim, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams dropped the second teaser trailer for the new Star Wars film, which debuts this Christmas.
Fans the Star Wars Celebration fan convention were wowed to see that the rolling BB8 droid, featured in the first trailer, is a working, practical device, and not simply a computer-generated animation.
Meanwhile, Marvel is about to open its newest Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, with Ant-Man and Fantastic Four on deck for release later this year. Lest you dismiss Ant-Man as sounding silly, don't forget that many people thought the same about Guardians of the Galaxy, which went on to become one of the biggest hits of last year.
But what about in the theme parks? Ah, to quote Emperor Palpatine, "I can feel your anger."
As Disney's poised to rack up one blockbuster hit after another with these franchises in movie theaters, theme parks fans are left with... well, we will get to see these franchises at the movies, right?
Sure, we have the relatively new Star Tours rides at Disney theme parks around the world. And there's Star Wars Weekends coming up at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. As for Marvel, well, we can always head over to Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Why do I suddenly feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Disney fans suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced?
Here's how we got to this point: Disney bought Marvel Studios for $4 billion in 2009. However, in the 1990s, cash-strapped Marvel sold its theme parks rights to Universal in perpetuity. Universal allowed its rights to the Marvel characters on the west coast lapse by not developing any Marvel projects at Universal Studios Hollywood, but Universal retains the Marvel theme park rights in Florida and Japan, effectively locking out Disney from featuring any Marvel characters in its Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney theme parks. Disney has announced an Iron Man-themed ride for Hong Kong Disneyland, which will open late next year. Disney's created Marvel meet and greets in Walt Disney Studios Paris, but closed its main Marvel meet and greet location in Anaheim's Disneyland with the shuttering of the Innovations pavilion.
Disney's concept art for the Iron Man Experience ride, coming to Hong Kong Disneyland
As for Star Wars, Disney bought creator Lucasfilm for another $4 billion, in 2012. Disney soon after that greenlit a Star Wars land for Disney's Hollywood Studios, but halted the project during the development of the new Star Wars film. Walt Disney Imagineering has spitballed enough Star Wars Land designs for Hollywood Studios and Disneyland at this point to build its own life-sized Death Star, but fans don't feel any closer to ordering a drink in a theme park version of the Mos Eisley Cantina than they were before Disney bought Lucasfilm.
So where does Disney go from here? Yeah, this is the theme park version of "First World Problems" — which of these wildly successful franchises should Disney work on next? But theme parks fans are growing increasingly frustrated by the thought that the answer will be "none of the above."
Let's consider the creative potential for each franchise in a theme park setting, the size of the potential market for each franchise, and the expense of developing these franchises in Disney's parks. Then let's put the question to a vote:
Let's break it down, in the comments.
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