Disney World Plans Avengers Campus Expansion, Settlement Incoming

Avengers Campus
Credit: Hilary / Flickr

The rights to Marvel Comics may rest securely with Universal Orlando Resort currently, but Walt Disney World Resort has its eyes set on the future.

Around 2,500 miles to the west of Walt Disney World Resort, The Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort in California has quickly become one of the most popular lands since its opening in 2021. This immersive land, located in Disney California Adventure Park, brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to life with a variety of attractions, character experiences, and dining options that cater to fans of all ages.

A building at Avengers Campus at California Adventure

Credit: Jeremy Thompson via Flickr

The centerpiece attractions include WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, a 3D ride where guests can sling webs alongside Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, a thrilling drop tower ride that replaced the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Along with these rides, the Avengers Campus offers interactive character encounters with iconic superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and many others, making it a must-visit for Marvel fans.

Despite the success of the Avengers Campus in Disneyland, the East Coast counterpart has faced significant challenges in bringing the Avengers to life. While Disney has shown its desire to incorporate Marvel into its Florida parks, as evidenced by the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride in EPCOT, a long-standing contractual agreement with Universal Studios Orlando (Universal Orlando Resort) has been a major hurdle.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at night with Spaceship Earth in the background at EPCOT in Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: Disney

This agreement dates back to the 1990s, when Universal secured the theme park rights to many Marvel characters for their Islands of Adventure park in Orlando, long before Disney acquired Marvel in 2009. Under the terms of this contract, Universal retains the exclusive rights to use most of the Marvel characters in their parks east of the Mississippi River.

This means that Disney World cannot use the names or likenesses of these characters in their theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The restrictions are particularly stringent, covering not just the use of characters but also their logos and related imagery.

Universal’s Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure features attractions themed around popular characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men. As long as Universal continues to operate these attractions, the contract remains in effect, blocking Disney from creating similar experiences in its Florida parks. This situation has led to a unique landscape where Disney, despite owning Marvel, cannot fully utilize some of its most valuable intellectual properties at Walt Disney World.

Marvel heroes at Superhero island at Universal Studios Orlando

Credit: Marvel / Universal Studios

In a recent press release, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro addressed the company’s vision for the future, hinting at what may be to come. “We’re making investment decisions that look decades ahead, with a view to create long-lasting appeal to generations of families,” D’Amaro stated. “Just like our stories and characters, our new lands, ships, hotels, and attractions will stand the test of time, generating excitement among our Guests and fans for years to come.”

The press release also highlighted Disney’s successful integration of several major franchises into its theme parks, resorts, and cruise ships. These include Frozen, Toy Story, Star Wars, and The Avengers. Of these, the Avengers remains the only franchise not fully represented at Walt Disney World, underscoring the unique challenges posed by the existing contract with Universal.

Aerial photo of Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort.

Credit: @Bioreconstruct on X, formerly Twitter

Despite these challenges, Disney’s determination to bring the Avengers to Walt Disney World suggests that a resolution may be on the horizon. There are two primary ways this could unfold. The first is that Disney might negotiate a settlement with Universal, allowing them to use the Avengers characters in their Florida parks. This would likely involve significant financial compensation and potentially other concessions, but it would enable Disney to create a cohesive Marvel-themed experience across its parks.

Alternatively, Disney might decide the financial compensation is too much. In this way, the company would settle with other intellectual properties, leveraging its extensive portfolio to create new attractions that do not conflict with the Universal agreement. Disney has demonstrated an ability to create immersive experiences repeatedly with attractions like Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Either way, a settlement of some kind: Whether it be the end of the agreement in which Disney could use a handsome sum of its $60 billion investment funds to pay Universal, or whether it be the company settling that The Avengers are not worth having in its Orlando theme parks.

The Millenium Falcon at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland Park, implying that Disney has rekindled an age-old debate with a new offering

Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

For now, Disney World’s incorporation of Marvel remains limited to characters not covered by Universal’s agreement, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride, which opened in 2022 at EPCOT, is an indoor roller coaster that features a reverse launch and rotating cars, providing a dynamic ride experience that has been a hit with Disney park guests.

As Disney continues to look toward the future, the possibility of an Avengers Campus at Walt Disney World remains an exciting prospect for fans. Whether through negotiation or creative alternatives, it is clear that Disney is committed to expanding its offerings and creating magical experiences that will delight guests for generations to come.

It’s unclear how this will unfold, but it will be an interesting point of discussion over the next few years, particularly as Disney prepares its next major expansions.

What do you think of an Avengers Campus in Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!

This post Disney World Plans Avengers Campus Expansion, Settlement Incoming appeared first on Inside the Magic.

About Andrew Boardwine

A frequent visitor of Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, Andrew will likely be found freefalling on Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean. Over at Universal, he'll be taking in the thrills of the Jurassic World Velocicoaster and Revenge of the Mummy

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