Universal to Close Spider-Man Ride in Japan

May 16, 2023, 10:23 AM · The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man are about to come to an end. Well, in Japan, at least.

In the latest development in the ongoing drama over the theme park rights to Marvel characters, Universal Studios Japan announced today that it will close its Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride permanently on January 22, 2024. A former co-winner of our Theme Park Insider Award as the world's best attraction and a current top-five pick on our Best Attractions list, Spidey has been thrill fans in Osaka since January 23, 2004.

If you do the math, that works out to a 20-year run... which is the term of the licensing contract that Universal held for for the Marvel rights in Japan. Unlike the Orlando theme park rights, which continue in perpetuity, Universal's contract with Marvel had a time limit in Japan. You can read more about these deals in Who Really Owns the Theme Park Rights to the DC and Marvel Comic Characters?

With Universal losing the Marvel rights in Japan, that clears the way for the Avengers and other Marvel characters to make their debut at the Tokyo Disney Resort. They won't be part of the big Fantasy Springs expansion that is expected to open in early 2024 at Tokyo DisneySea, but it's hard to see Disney waiting much longer to bring Marvel to Tokyo in some form, whether that be by building an Avengers Campus or through at least some form of attraction retheme.

With Marvel in Tokyo, that would leave the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as Disney's only theme park resort without unlimited access to the Marvel characters. An understanding between Disney and Universal allows Walt Disney World to use characters, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, not referenced in Universal Orlando's Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure, but Disney cannot use those other characters within its parks in Florida.

A very high level executive has told me that Disney has asked multiple times if Universal would be interested in selling those Orlando licensing rights, only to be told no. Apparently, Disney isn't cutting deals, either, as Universal has not been able to extend its license for Spider-Man in Japan.

Stay tuned to find out what Universal does with its 3D motion base dark ride in Osaka, and when Disney announces Marvel's arrival in Tokyo.

Update: Universal Studios Japan also confirmed today that it will not reopen its Terminator 2: 3-D and Backdraft shows, which had been closed since the pandemic. So that's three sizable show buildings Universal now has available.

For more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

For ticket deals, as well as our reader rankings and advice on visiting top theme parks around the world, please visit our our Theme Park visitors guides.

Replies (11)

May 16, 2023 at 10:39 AM

Are the DC rights in use in Japan? It might make more sense for universal to make a deal for those than pay Disney whatever they wanted.

May 16, 2023 at 10:49 AM

I’m glad Marvel isn’t popular in Japan because I don’t want another mediocre Avengers Campus for Tokyo Disneyland.

May 16, 2023 at 11:29 AM

I'm sure Tokyo Disney would do something WAY better than Avengers Campus, knowing that the Oriental Land company owns the resort and gives them virtually no budget for their projects. They could implement them into Tomorrowland, but their Tomorrowland has already been downsized to the Fantasyland expansion there. Or perhaps maybe the Avengers could come to the American Waterfront or Port Discovery in some form.

May 16, 2023 at 11:59 AM

With Universal riding high off their partnership with Nintendo in film and theme parks while also scooping up the rights to Pokémon, it’s not hard to guess what the replacement will be.

May 16, 2023 at 1:27 PM

@Maxic, I agree. An Avengers Campus at TokyoDisney would be completely different.

At DCA, Avengers Campus had to be shoehorned into a (small) existing space & ultimately was just a way of giving the Marvel IP a specific "land" & capitalizing on the popularity of the MCU. It's not even up to Disney's own standards...but again we know why.

If an "Avengers Campus" was to be created and built for another park, 100% sure it could be an amazing (pun intended) land. Marvel SuperHero Island is a better over land, even with it's 90's vibe. Avengers Campus at DCA is just a lite appetizer, not a legit entree.

May 16, 2023 at 2:01 PM

I highly doubt OLC will be doing anything with Avengers. They are under no obligation to purchase projects the Disney company pitches to them. Unlike in the US, where Iger needs to see the IP he bought shoved into the parks in order to feel justified in the purchases.

May 16, 2023 at 5:57 PM

I agree with AngryDuck. Also, many of you failed to realize that the MCU isn’t popular in Japan. The most popular Marvel IP in Japan is Big Hero 6 and that’s not in the MCU proper.

May 16, 2023 at 6:13 PM

And yet, Spider-Man has been wildly successful at Disney's biggest competitor in the country for the past two decades. If for no other reason, Disney should want at least to build upon that success.

May 16, 2023 at 7:13 PM

With a third WEB Slingers? No thank you.

May 16, 2023 at 11:21 PM

I think this is the market where Disney (a) couldn’t possibly get away with Web Slingers and (b) could get Oriental Land to pay for something better. Will that happen? I dunno. But if Disney is ever going to build a Universal-class Spider-Man ride, it would be in Tokyo.

May 17, 2023 at 1:16 PM

From what I've heard, the leading rumor for Spider-Man's replacement is a Pokemon attraction, but that's still just a rumor. On the topic of Marvel at Tokyo Disneyland, I don't see it happening, considering the MCU is not really that popular there. Maybe a Spider-Man solo attraction, considering he is the only Marvel character with a presence in Japan, but I'm struggling to imagine where they could fit one in.

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

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive