Disney to acquire Marvel; problems for Islands of Adventure?

August 31, 2009, 8:53 AM · The Walt Disney Co. announced this morning that it is acquiring Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock. The deal gives Disney ownership of Marvel's characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor.

This obviously could present a major issue for Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, as the entire "Marvel Super Hero Island" is based off of Marvel characters, as well as other character use around the entire Universal resort. Personally, I don't see Disney allowing Universal to continue using the characters in their "direct competition" theme parks, unless perhaps Universal would be willing to pay a good sum in royalties/usage rights.

Update from Robert: Lots of good information (as well as rumors/wishful thinking) in the comments. Inside sources say that Universal's deal with Marvel gave it exclusive use of the Marvel characters in theme parks east of the Mississippi (*which might be temporary) and its license for existing IOA characters is in perpetuity. Does that mean Disney will have to pay Universal to use the Marvel characters in Walt Disney World?

Also, we have a discussion thread going on what Disney should do with Marvel.

Update 2 from Robert: I've been canvassing industry insiders and the consensus seems to be that this is a play by Disney to do better in the "tweenager" boy market. Disney's recent efforts in that age group have been almost exclusively aimed at girls.

You'll see this play out first on Disney Channel, with new animation series aimed at tweenager boys. They won't be the adult-oriented versions of the characters from the films, but more like the original, more kid-friendly versions.

After Disney Channel, then the most successful franchises from cable TV will be developed for animated movies. You'll likely see an afternoon parade at California Adventure in a couple years, as well.

Only after Disney's had several years developing the Marvel characters within its cable and movie outlets will there be serious thought about theme park attractions. The DCA rehab/expansion will be completed first, as will the WDW Fantasyland work to be announced next month at D23.

That leaves plenty of time for Disney to analyze the viability of a third (Marvel-based) park, or Marvel DCA expansion, in Anaheim and to pursue a possible buy-out deal with Universal to get the rights to develop attractions in Florida.

Thanks to my industry insiders for their insight. (And my apologies for that awful sentence.)

Replies (75)

August 31, 2009 at 8:58 AM · Disney to Universal: "I will see your Harry Potter, and raise you one Spider-Man."

Universal fans: "Huh? Whaaa?"

And Universal Orlando's lawyers earn some billable hours this morning.

August 31, 2009 at 9:04 AM · WOW!!! I can't believe it. Well, since I have two little boys who adore superheroes and Disney, this simplifies my vacation planning.
August 31, 2009 at 9:10 AM · I'm guessing it depends on how long Universal's contract with Marvel for Islands of Adventure is for, and how it is affected if Marvel is bought out [ie- does it have a guarantee to remain as is, or will it be renegociated?]. Their contract for the California Universal theme park expired not too long ago.
August 31, 2009 at 9:10 AM · As it was stated during the conference call. Disney is not looking to interrupt Marvel's current deals and agreements. They are simply looking to be a vehicle to expand the exposure of Marvel.
August 31, 2009 at 9:16 AM · It is likely that Universal bought licensing rights to the attraction through perpetuity. Stay tuned!
August 31, 2009 at 9:21 AM · I have a message in to Universal Orlando's PR crew looking for a comment on the length of its license deal.

Perpetuity would surprise me, though Uni does have a perpetual deal with Spielberg, so such terms are not unheard of within the company.

Then again, Uni's looking to get out of the Spielberg deal, so we know that contracts are made to be bought out.

August 31, 2009 at 9:35 AM · So Disney gets money for Universal using Spiderman for the ride? Brilliant!

Likely, Disney will allow Marvel Island to stay......for a price.

So does that mean that they get the rights to the next Spiderman, Hulk, and Ironman movies?

I wonder what Disney will do with the stuff?

On the tactical end, its a slam dunk for Disney who pretty much gave up on boys between the ages of 8-18. Check out any Disney Store if you don't believe me! Its not totally their fault, they do not have much of a market for them.

August 31, 2009 at 9:36 AM · Oh man thats sweet. I can see a whole new land at DHS now based off of marvel. However i will be sadened if spiderman does have to close at universal. That would be a disaster!
August 31, 2009 at 9:36 AM · Well, one thing is for sure. If and when the Marvel heroes migrate to WDW... the costumes on the walkaround characters won't look like cheap, off the rack Halloween costumes anymore.
August 31, 2009 at 9:37 AM · The deal's already done for the Marvel characters in the Universal parks. So Universal should not have to pay anything additional to Disney, unless the deal had an expiration date and Universal wants to continue it. (Awaiting word on that.)

But Anthony's spot-on highlighting what was Disney's biggest market weakness. It just had zilch for pre-teen boys, even as it almost totally owned the pre-teen girl market. This, in one deal, fixes that problem.

August 31, 2009 at 9:46 AM · Is that why Michael Bay was checking out the Spiderman ride at IOA a few weeks ago? Now is the time they could convert it over to a Transformers ride.
August 31, 2009 at 9:48 AM · That's an interesting rumor I'm willing to help spread... ;-)
August 31, 2009 at 9:59 AM · Right! Maybe Uni can capitalize on this Hasbro deal that they made so many years back. G.I. Joe and Transformers can inhabit and walk around the IOA in no time. Isn't Ron Howard penned to do a 'Stretch Armstrong' pick? Ine door closed but the window is still open
August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM · There are times I want to take the journalist in me out back, tie him up and gag him, so that I can let my inner rumor-monger run free.
August 31, 2009 at 10:32 AM · I've never been a huge Disney fan after going for several years and being disappointed by the lack of great rides at the parks. MGM (Hollywood as they call it now) definitely has the best assortmanet.

Once my wife suggested Universal instead of Disney, we have never looked back and I would hate to see Universal affected by Disney's purchase of Marvel.

To me, Universal seems hip and alive, especially at night whereas Disney is spread out all over and it's a pain to visit multiple parks in one day. Downtown Disney is just one huge outdoor mall and it is laid out poorly.

Disney seems to be buying up everything lately and I don't like how they don't even hide the fact they are greedy. "We have your teenage daughters money, but we want your sons too".

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, I am just passionate about our Summer vacations at Universal. I think they dropped the ball on Rip Ride Rockit however. They threw up soem high tech MP3 laiden coaster as fast as they could, missed the dealines, and the Summer is over. We skipped this year because of that and we are waiting for Harry Potter as well.

Please chime in with your opinions of the Disney deal, I for one am not happy. Universal should buy DC Comics before Disney does.

August 31, 2009 at 10:48 AM · Has else wondered whether Universal actually holds exclusive rights for the use of Hulk and Spiderman in a theme park medium? Meaning even if Disney owns the character likenesses in comics, television and movies it does not necessarily mean it has rights to use them in their theme parks.

But it should also be noted that (especially with the Potter bomb about to drop) Disney enjoys the benefit of having its characters visible in (not to mention on sale in the gift shops of) a competing theme park.

Anyone else getting dizzy?

August 31, 2009 at 10:51 AM · I think it's time Universal goes ahead and starts acquiring the Japanese anime/manga market and licensing deals. With the internet and www so prominent in society now, that's where the real teenage boy demographic lays - at least with regards to the fantasy/action adventure types. It's all probably a little too edgy for the Disney folks.
August 31, 2009 at 11:16 AM · Good move for Disney to grab a highly visible, highly popular franchise to fill some gaps. I'm sure there will eventually be a whole park and hotel themed to the Marvel characters. The huge success of the movies streaming out of Hollywood and the merchandising are probably the biggest factors in the purchase, but I'm sure that Disney will use Marvel to the fullest extent.

As far as IOA, it all depends on the contract and when it expires. If the contract is up in 3 years, then Marvel will be gone from Universal in 2-3 years. If there's a contract, Disney doesn't really have the right to yank the carpet out from Universal immediately, so they would have to wait. However if it's a long term contract, I wouldn't be surprised to see Disney put together a buyout offer. The businessman in me says that there either isn't a whole lot of time left on the contract (maybe a few years), or Disney has found a way around the deal with Universal. I'm sure that the execs know exactly what they are buying and exactly what they can do at what time, and I'm sure that they won't let direct competition use their product. They will either ridiculously highball Universal on the price come contract time, or they won't even offer.

Anyway, how much of IOA does Marvel really take up? The only ride that would cost big money to retheme would be Spiderman, and there are already some options. There are plenty of movies that can take the place of Spiderman, and with a little reprogramming and new set, the ride will actually be new and fresh. Hulk doesn't really have much theming, and the other attractions are dressed up amusement park rides that would simply need a new suit. Disney isn't the only company with deep pockets, and the hit to IOA wouldn't be a death blow. The return of Transformers and GIJoe to the big screen are obvious candidates...and I'll say it once again....Nintendo.

Then again, Universal could just buy the Busch parks.

August 31, 2009 at 11:14 AM · From the Orlando Sentinel: "Universal's contracts apparently gives it exclusive U.S. rights east of the Mississippi River for theme-park attractions built around certain of those characters, notably Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Dr. Doom."

Probably the X-Men's Storm as well.

August 31, 2009 at 11:20 AM · The big question. How many years are said contracts for?
August 31, 2009 at 11:21 AM · I am so excited for Marvel to come to Disney. We are insane Marvel fans and Disney runs in our blood. I just hope the Marvel initiative is seen within the Disney parks themselves. Wow! This deal must have been very hush hush for no one to have even speculated a rumor that this was possible. There are SO many directions Disney could take using the Marvel characters however I don't see a great way to integrate the two. I don't see Ironman flying over Cinderella's castle anytime soon! It would be great to see a revamp of Tomorrowland that uses futuristic superheroes.... I think?
August 31, 2009 at 11:24 AM · The contract is for virtual perpetuity.
August 31, 2009 at 11:28 AM · This means Disney will earn all the film revenue from next years Iron Man 2, and the forthcoming Spider-Man 4 and Thor.


August 31, 2009 at 11:29 AM · Statement from Tom Schroder at Universal Orlando: "Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal's Islands of Adventure and the Marvel characters are a beloved and important part of the Universal Orlando experience. They will remain so. Our guests are going to get to meet Spider-Man and all our other Marvel characters. We believe our agreement with Marvel stands and that the Disney/Marvel deal will have no impact on our guest experience."

Um, "we believe"? And no mention of the length of the deal?

Like I said, the Universal lawyers are getting some hours today.

August 31, 2009 at 11:29 AM · I know this is kind-of streching it a little but we have heard for awhile that that Rock N' Roller Coaster was losing Aerosmith. Maybe they will convert it to a Ironman or Captian America?
August 31, 2009 at 11:31 AM · One more rumor I can get behind!
August 31, 2009 at 11:35 AM · The Spider-man films are a separate contract that Sony made with Marvel. Disney will not make any money from that film. Same goes with X-Men and Fox. The others, however, yes.
August 31, 2009 at 11:41 AM · Inside source whom I know to have knowledge of Universal's licensing deals just told me that Universal Orlando's main deals with outside properties (e.g. Spider-Man, Hulk, Men in Black, etc.) have been for perpetuity.
August 31, 2009 at 11:36 AM · Dan writes: we have heard for awhile that that Rock N' Roller Coaster was losing Aerosmith. Maybe they will convert it to a Ironman or Captian America?

i Respond: I sure hope NOT. DHS seems the perfect place for a Marvel attraction. But it would be a HUGE disappointment if they simply did a retrofit of an existing ride.

August 31, 2009 at 11:37 AM · Disney doesn’t need Marvel like Universal does, that scares me being a HUGE Marvel fan. I'm afraid they will just sprinkle pixie dust all over it and dumb it down like they do everything else.
August 31, 2009 at 11:39 AM · And how funny is it that Universal will be selling Disney owned products (for example, Spider-Man action figures) in its gift shops?
August 31, 2009 at 11:52 AM · Oh and by the way: Disney's acquisition of Marvel is a MUCH MUCH BIGGER DEAL than Universal acquiring the theme park rights to Harry Potter.
August 31, 2009 at 11:52 AM · I can’t wait for the “It’s tough to be a Marvel Super Hero ride”

And the ever popular newly themed Green Machine roller coaster at IOA…

August 31, 2009 at 11:55 AM · More From The Orlando Sentinel: "Marvel has several long-term agreements in place already with various other companies for many of its characters, including movie deals with Paramount, Sony and Fox, for such characters as Iron Man, X-Men, Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor. Those contracts will be honored until their terms expire, which could be several years or more in some cases.

Marvel also has various deals with the two-park Universal Orlando. The agreements governing two of Universal's hugely popular rides, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk roller coaster, appear to be virtually perpetual deals. According to Universal's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Universal Orlando retains American rights east of the Mississippi River for as long as its attractions are in operation.

Universal and Marvel also have various deals for everything from merchandise sales to the theming of many other portions of the Orlando resort's Islands of Adventure theme park."

August 31, 2009 at 12:09 PM · There seems to be an anti-Disney thing going on here :)

I doubt that Disney will mess anything up with the Marvel. I know this is turning into Disney vs. Universal, but it seems that Disney has the money, drive, and resources to aquire winning products. Universal, with a few exceptions, has become a reactionary theme park company taking Disney's general ideas and updating them. Citywalk and Pleasure Island worked the same way, but PI was much older.

Walt Disney worked at first for Universal (in the 20's) and they screwed him over. I guess Disney never got over the slight ;)

August 31, 2009 at 12:16 PM · Of course, Disney took the idea for Pleasure Island from Church Street Station.
August 31, 2009 at 12:25 PM · This just in, Disney will retheme most of its rides to Marvel.

Jungle Cruise will become Adventures in the Savage Land staring Ka-Zar, loin cloth and all.

Tom Sawyers Island will become Genosia, with Magneto granting safe haven to all mutants.

Space Mountain will become the Fantastic Fantastic 4 ride featuring Galactus.

Cinderella’s Castle will become Dr Dooms Castle, equipped with Water spraying Doom Bots.

Liberty square will be rethemed to WWII Europe with 3 daily street shows featuring Red Skull and Capitan America

The Haunted Mansion will be rethemed Ghost Riders HWY to HELL.

Stitches great escape will remain untouched

August 31, 2009 at 12:36 PM · It's really quite amazing to consider the impact of this acquisition. This is so much bigger than Potter and has the potential to create an extraordinary revenue stream in every corner of the company (parks, films, television, retail, etc.).
August 31, 2009 at 12:52 PM · Upcoming Disney (owned) Films

Iron Man 2 (May 2010)

Thor (May 2011)

Captain America (July 2011)

The Avengers (May 2012)

Everyone remember how Disney's recent quarterly revenue reports were suffering because their box office receipts had been so anemic?

August 31, 2009 at 12:55 PM · Disney stock is at $26 – I may have to buy some now…
August 31, 2009 at 1:46 PM · I think Disney needs to come up with some of their own ideas instead of just buying everybody else's properties left and right. Other than Pixar movies...there haven't been any movies I'd consider "classics" since Lion King.

As for the parks I went to Disney World once, and unless you're a child the only good parks are Epcot and MGM Studios and even with those, once was enough for me. Universal Studios however, I've been to about a half dozen times. Price is better, rides are better...it doesn't cater primarily to young children.

For people who say Marvel is a way bigger deal than Harry Potter...are you serious? You may think so, but in terms of the general public, I see Harry Potter drawing a lot of people from all over the world to Universal Studios.

August 31, 2009 at 2:21 PM · To add to Robert's reason for Disney buying them:

I work at the Disney Store and there is pretty much nothing for tween boys there. Spiderman and Co. might help a little bit. Disney also released Disney's XD Channel which seems to almost be geared towards the boys.

And Disney not making any good movies? What about Pirates franchise? Their downfall was they moved away from traditional animation. They came to the senses!

August 31, 2009 at 3:12 PM · Anonymous post: I think Disney needs to come up with some of their own ideas instead of just buying everybody else's properties left and right

I Respond: A substantial (if not a "vast majority") of Disney classics were based on ideas (properties) from non-Disney sources (Snow White, Pinochio, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, etc.).

And I'm from a Disney family (my wife is a CM). What's best for the company's bottomline has my support.

August 31, 2009 at 4:28 PM · Been out of pocket lately but had to come back to TPI and see what everyone thought about this. I say congrats to Disney for pulling something like this off. They knew they needed to respond somehow to Universal and Harry Potter. I would say they did so with a bang. I have always been a bigger fan of the Universal parks but I can't even imagine some of the coolness Disney is going to dish out in 3-5 years after all the capital starts rolling in from movies and product.
August 31, 2009 at 4:29 PM · while I am enjoying all of the wild speculation about what the disney/ marvel deal could mean, I think we have to try and be a little more practical. Unless disney wants to engage in another "what's the difference" battle like that which happened when mgm and universal studios opened within a year of each other, I see no reason for them to use the marvel characters as a major draw to their parks. Mostly because there is already a major theme park doing it right next door (As well as almost every six flags in the country) I know big time fans will know that Marvel is different then dc etc. but to most moms and dads buying the ticket one is just as good as the other. I see them getting a lot of use in movie land and maybe a cool new themed dinning experience at DTD. Now as for this being a bigger deal then Harry Potter... dream on, TWWHP is going to change the face of universal and the kind of draw it has as a "lifestyle" vacation. Its new and never been done, superheroes at theme parks is so 1999.
August 31, 2009 at 4:37 PM · Professional Wrestling is popular and dumb...why doesn't Disney buy that, too?
August 31, 2009 at 6:08 PM · James, TH...

You make take that comment up from there. (Chuckles....)

August 31, 2009 at 6:14 PM · Anon writes: Now as for this being a bigger deal then Harry Potter... dream on,

I respond: The Potter deal is a LICENSING AGREEMENT that is a limited business venture that involves attractions in a single park.

The Marvel deal is a coporate SALE. Disney is not LICENSING Marvel's characters it will OWN them. This agreement involves multiple parks, worldwide retail, television revenue, DVD sales, books, toys and BILLIONS of dollars in box office revenue.

Stan Lee gave Disney the keys to the store. When JK Rowlings does the same for Universal, you can toss around phrases like "dream on."

August 31, 2009 at 6:48 PM · There is no doubt that the Marvel deal will make the Disney corporation far more money than the Potter deal will make for Universal.

However, the question is: Will it have a huge impact in the Orlando theme park wars?

In the short term, Harry Potter will benefit the Universal parks far more than Marvel will help WDW.

Disney will need at least five years to put any major attraction in DHS based on this deal. The ride would also have to be based on a lesser character since Universal has the rights to Spider-man, X-Men, Hulk, Fantastic Four and Captain America. Iron Man is the only major character that Disney could attach to it.

One could argue that Universal would be providing Disney free publicity by keeping a land based on Disney owned characters. However, that door could swing both ways.

My opinion is that Disney would eventually have to buy the rights back from Universal, for a pretty penny, in order to truly take advantage of this deal for their Florida parks. Given the high cost of this current deal, I don't see that happening for 5-10 years. After all that was done, then Disney would truly have the edge in the Harry Potter-Marvel debate.

August 31, 2009 at 6:58 PM · Does this spur NBC/Universal to counter with an acquisition of its own? (Busch? DC? Sesame Workshop? Just throwing names out here.)

M&A tends to come in waves in business, as one deal prompts competitors to do their own deals in an effort to stay "even" or get ahead.

August 31, 2009 at 7:33 PM · I am a comic fan. I lost all respect for Marvel Comics. If Disney dictates what goes in the comic books, like Watering down the Punisher, then I wont be reading Marvel comics anymore.
August 31, 2009 at 8:07 PM · Thank you, Disney... and on my birthday too! Wow, what a great present!

Just wished I'd have held on to that Marvel (MVL) stock when I bought it years ago at $4 per share....

August 31, 2009 at 8:12 PM · Happy Birthday, Mr. Rao. Mine is on Wednesday.
August 31, 2009 at 8:21 PM · alright, too bad this dosent make any sense. think about it. its DISNEY. DISNEY bought MARVEL. MARVEL has nothing to do with DISNEY. DISNEY has nothing to do with MARVEL. and if they take marvel super hero island, or even (the worst thing) change the spiderman ride to TRANSFORMERS, i am going to be pissed, because the transformer movies sucked. and still, IT DOSENT MAKE ANY SENSE!!!!!!
August 31, 2009 at 8:38 PM · It's funny since we're on a site called TPI, that we all naturally assume this will cause wholesale changes in the theme park arena.

One of the old Walt Disney sayings is, "Remember, it all started with a mouse". Where was this mouse - film, TV, print media. The theme parks and merchandising are born of this.

Robert mentioned the TV prospects. Disney has tween girls market cornered: Hannah Montanna, HSM, Wizards, Jonas. They've been weak in the boy dept - Phineas and Ferb? (very funny by the way). The movies, oh the movies!

Then will come all the park business...

August 31, 2009 at 8:50 PM · This is a postive move forward for Disney. I don't see Universal losing it's attractions and/or themed land if the contracts are as ironclad as some are suggesting, but it does my heart good knowing that they'll be selling Disney merch at their parks.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of Universal, as their park always reminded me of a golddigger: pretty, not much there, and always taking, taking, taking. At least at Disney, you feel like there's a certain value you get for your dollar.

September 1, 2009 at 3:19 AM · Vincent S writes: I am a comic fan. I lost all respect for Marvel Comics. If Disney dictates what goes in the comic books, like Watering down the Punisher, then I wont be reading Marvel comics anymore.

I Respond: It's always amusing to see someone offer up a hypotheticAl ("If Disney dictates what goes in the comic books,...") following a statement of conclusion ("I lost all respect for Marvel Comics.").

Way to wait and see how this whole thing plays out.

September 1, 2009 at 4:02 AM · I can't wait to book my next cruise on the Disney MARVEL!

You wonder if this forces Uni to get preemptive and go back to early IOA concepts for a DC Comics based Super Hero Island? Seems they are getting on well with WB on this Harry Potter thing. Maybe Spidey gets the boot?

September 1, 2009 at 6:27 AM · I bet Marvel will more or less stay the same. Disney owns Touchstone and a ton of other "adult" movie studios. Heck, they own the American Pie movies. AMERICAN PIE MOVIES! I doubt you could get any raunchier than that with the Marvel Characters.

However this brings up a big question I always had. Did Disney ever really lose the boys? They have had ESPN for awhile and I think that is a huge market for boys. Is it because its not "Disney", but rather "Disney Company"? I just never thought that Disney really lost out on the boys.

The only thing I could see Disney really trying new that would get the boys to the Disney family is to put rides in their parks.

Looks like Universal will have to change their dumb comparision chart that is extremly misleading (except the part about pricing, they got Disney beat on that). Disney doesn't have the "yesterday favorites" anymore!

I like the Muppet example. Good brand that Disney owns, but not many know that!

September 1, 2009 at 7:00 AM · Anthony writes: "Heck, they own the American Pie movies ... I doubt you could get any raunchier than that ..."

I Respond: To heck with 'American Pie!' Disney owns Kevin Smith's 'Clerks!'

September 1, 2009 at 7:19 AM · ...and the "American Pie" franchise is owned by Universal.
September 1, 2009 at 7:24 AM · Interesting how many posts so far. Out of all posts, I agree most with Andy G. Like Robert stated early, Disney is trying to "balance out" its offerings to attract a much more even fan base! Universal is doing something of the same with the Potter Land.
This deal will not create many benefits for Disney right away and Disney has announced that they expect a short term effect. The deal with Marvel expects to be closed by the end of this year. Disney CEO, Robert Iger, stated he sees this acquisition of Marvel as a begining to a more action-packed future for Disney.
Like I said, Andy G. post says more for what is going to happen in the next few years. This is the largest investment Disney has made (4 billion in cash and stocks) since 2006 when they spent 7.4 billion in stocks to aquire the Pixar animation Studios. So what has Disney done so large to change their parks with Pixar Themes since 2006. We soon will see a "Cars" the movie land in place in Cali, but other than that, not much effect has been made to it's parks. (I'm talking on a grand scale here). With this being said, I don't see anything major happening with Marvel at Disney Parks for some time. I will say, my mind is buzzing with some ideas I'd like to see.
Here's something I'm thinking of..... Most of us have heard something about another/or 5th park idea to come to Walt Disney World. Last I've heard, that had been put on hold? Now, what Disney was planning from what I remember was a adventure style park with rock climbing walls/mountain, zip lines, etc.... Can you just imagine Marvel super hero involement with this one? Swing on zip lines like Spiderman, etc.... sure opens up a lot more for ideas.
OOOPS.....Robert did I just start another rumor??? :)
September 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM · Here's a nice summary of the theme park licenses for each character according to insider sources:
September 1, 2009 at 9:36 AM · Nikki, as she often is, is spot on with this analysis. Meshes with everything I've heard.

In summary:

  • Marvel Super Hero Island is set for as long as Universal wants it. No attractions will need to be rethemed, and Universal may continue using these existing characters in the land forever, if it wishes.

  • Universal can't add any new characters, or character-based attractions, shows or restaurants, that it is not currently using without approval from Marvel. So nothing new's coming to that area.
  • September 1, 2009 at 9:47 AM · Sorry, I was wrong. American Pie is, irnoically, Universal. I saw somewhere that it was owned by a Disney movie company.

    Anyway, Disney owns Miramax which has these adult gems:
    Clerks (Thanks TH)
    Kill Bill I and II
    Scary Movie IV
    Resivor Dogs
    Gangs of New York

    And thats only Miramax! My point is that Disney has done stuff that is geared more towards adults for awhile anyway. Marvel will just be another notch in their belt

    I wonder how Stan Lee is doing? He must be rolling around in giant sums of money from the amount that he is made off of Universal and Disney. I bet he couldn't imagine that happening.

    September 1, 2009 at 10:36 AM · The only thing I would add to Mr. Niles' list is:

    Universal gift shops will continue to sell merchandise featuring Marvel characters which, in turn will generate revenue for Disney.

    Ironic, eh?

    September 1, 2009 at 10:59 AM · My teenager daughter and son summed it up quite nicely this morning. My daughter said "I thought Disney was the happiest place on Earth" to which my son replied "Now Disney is the greediest place on Earth". Enough said.
    September 1, 2009 at 11:40 AM · Anthony is right.

    Iger has been very hands off with the various arms of the Disney empire. If it isn't broke, he doesn't fix it. Heck, the Pirates films were the first PG-13 films to fall under the Walt Disney Pictures banner. So, they were actually going down the road of darker family films anyway.

    I don't see Marvel getting Disneyfied. If anything, Disney will just create separate branches for family-oriented and adult-oriented Marvel comics.

    As far as Marvel merchandise at IOA, why can't Universal just stop selling Marvel products period?

    I realize that the Marvel merchandise has to be the best selling products at IOA...right now. However, there will undoubtably be a paradigm shift once Harry Potter comes online. Potter sales will easily eclipse anything at either park. Universal can then scale back Marvel merchandise to a much lower level where the licensing fees paid to Disney would become midling at best.

    September 1, 2009 at 12:36 PM · I think Universal will sell Marvel merchandise as long as it makes them money.
    September 1, 2009 at 12:51 PM · Another great article about "What Disney Gets":


    For Disney, I think this is primarily about cable TV and merch, and expanding publishing somewhat. The movies are tied up (and played out, IMHO) with other studios, and Disney won't do theme park attractions until they have a solid programming base and audience segment of their own (heck, how many years has it been for their OWN major properties to be turned into major attractions, Lion King, Mermaid, Beauty & Beast, etc. etc. -- they're not going to rush into Marvel attractions any faster).

    This is about creating new programming and merch for tween/teen/action audience. Hey, they have a new network called "Disney XD" that is hurting for just that! Whaddya know!

    September 2, 2009 at 1:47 AM · I just hope Disney doesn't kill the Spider-man ride, which would be an abomination and an affront to all theme park fans. In fact, it would be pure spite.
    September 2, 2009 at 11:45 PM · One perspective: The Marvel deal is old Filmed Entertainment and Feature Animation pols way of putting John Lassiter and his merry band at Pixar back in their place. The 'One Brand All Parks' strategy is Iger's direction to eliminate perceived redundancy of individual branding and localization of Disney parks. With Disney's Marvel characters, whole departments at Pixar (whose sole purpose is the invention of interesting, compelling new film characters, or as marketing thinks of them, brands) are now rendered redundant.

    Hey, there's a growing studio up in the Pacific Northwest, where houses are inexpensive and the weather isn't so different from Emeryville...

    September 4, 2009 at 3:18 PM · I think that it is a brilliant idea on Disney's part. There are many young boys who are into the Marvel characters, but find Universal Studios geared too much towards the older crowd. Since Disney deals alot with the princesses (and maybe now a few pirates), this will allow the younger crowd of boys to enjoy their Disney trip even more without having to travel to another theme park (and pay). It'll all be in one place! And it makes family vacation planning cheaper and easier. It is a shame for Universal if they have to give up their Islands of Adventure, but Disney is always trying to update their rides/attractions and try to find something new and exciting for every member of the family to keep up the attendance. This will be good for them. Universal is going a little stale with their attractions and if they didn't have the $ to nab the contract, then they need to find something else to keep the park around.
    September 5, 2009 at 8:01 AM · The first thing that came to mind after I heard about the Disney/Marvel deal is a 5th park at WDW geared for the boys market that Disney has so little to offer. All of the little princesses get their day at the Magic Kingdom and the little princes could have their day at Marvel Kingdom. Will they get their own makeover salon at Downtown Disney as well?
    September 5, 2009 at 3:29 PM · Call me Goofy (or Pluto),this may seem very far-fetched but....What if this Marvel purchase is a bit deeper then we are all thinking.
    We have all pondered a 5th park for WDW. What if the 5th park is IOA? They own Marvel now. Would'nt IOA be the tweener/adult thrill park we always wanted to be a part of WDW? So what if it's not "on the grounds" of WDW. Buying a park has to be cheaper than building one and all that goes with it. Maybe it's far enough away from Disney proper that Disney can do some adult stuff and not get a black eye from the young/family and princess crowd. Can you imagine? Re-theme Studios (a very sad and tired park)into a Disney Villain Park? and make IOA a Marvel/Harry Potter park. Wait! That's six parks and they are already built! Can you imagine the potential for "Mickey's Very Very Scary Halloween Party? Bonus! There are three very nice hotels that could easily be 2 moderate and 1 deluxe Disney lodging with water taxi transportation. Plus Citywalk could be the new WDW adult playground.

    I always thought that there would be a Soviet Union too. Maybe there won't always be a Universal presence in Orlando.

    This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

    Park tickets

    Weekly newsletter

    New attraction reviews

    News archive