It’s no secret that with Disney’s purchase of the Marvel Universe, the Walt Disney Company was banking on bringing superheroes to its many theme parks. Disneyland in California and Disneyland Paris are getting superhero-themed lands, and Hong Kong Disneyland is getting a Marvel-themed ride.
But even with copious development in Walt Disney World, the only major Marvel Comics-related growth is Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster. There’s no Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or big green Hulk in sight.
So why no love for Marvel at Walt Disney World? Believe it or not, the answer goes back about twenty-five years, and all hinges on a licensing agreement loophole.
Universal Studios, as you may have guessed if you’re a fan of their hero-themed rides and entertainment, retained the rights to the Marvel characters in an agreement signed in 1994 between Marvel and MCA (which would eventually become part of NBC Universal). But there were two caveats. One: Universal had to actually use the characters to retain control over them, and Two: the agreement split the country down the middle, and the rules applied separately to the areas east and west of the Mississippi River. [Read more…]