From the Financial Pages today – business news is not something I usually write about, but you’ll see why the following story would interest me:
Our family frequents the Orlando Florida area, home of Disney World and also their major competitor – Universal Studios. For those of you who don’t know, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure (the newer and more thrill-ride oriented of Universal’s two Orlando parks), there is an entire area called Marvel Superhero Island®. So my question is, now that Disney, Universal’s biggest competitor and business enemy, has bought Marvel, what will happen to Superhero Island at Islands of Adventure? I can’t imagine that Universal would want to keep the same characters, now owned by Disney, at their park. And I can’t imagine Disney letting Universal keep the characters at their park, unless the price was right, of course. But based upon the competitiveness that is obvious to the tourists flocking to the area, Disney’s superhero lease price would probably put Universal out of business!
Marvel’s Superhero Island currently contains (click the link for an interactive map – Superhero Island is on the left side of the park, just left of the main gate) the following attractions: The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall, and Storm Force Accelatron, which we’ve always skipped since it seemed like Universal’s answer to Disney’s Teacup ride. We always skipped Doctor Doom also since it’s a free-fall ride and I’m afraid to go on those. I think my husband went on this one however, but I don’t remember him saying it was any different from the rest of these types of rides. In short, it probably won’t be much of a problem to rename these two rides. The Hulk coaster is an awesome coaster and should also be able to withstand the re-themeing, although it might need a paint job to change its current green/purple Hulk theme. The Adventures of Spiderman is another story. This ride is awesome! There really isn’t anything else like it in either of the two parks. It’s basically like taking a thrill ride into a 3D Spiderman movie. I guess they’d have to choose a new character and make a new movie. Whatever they do, I hope it’s as good as the original Spiderman ride! Also complicating a theming switch would be the superheros and villians that walk around Marvel’s Superhero Island. I guess all the costumes would be sold to Disney. Perhaps Disney will build a superhero section – my guess would be at MGM Hollywood Studios if I had to pick a place.
And Universal would have an entire area to theme and fill. Hmmm, imagine the possibilities….
Let’s see, would they coincide the new area with a new movie coming out (Smurfs (sorry Carol), Jetsons – not sure if those are Universal movies)? Or would they take one of their existing franchises (Simpsons – they’d have to move that super-cool new ride from the Studios park to the Islands park!, NBC land (The Office – The Ride!)) and create a whole new world? Any ideas?
**UPDATE** – From orlandosentinel.com: “…theme-park rival Universal Orlando will likely retain the park rights to its four Marvel superstars, including Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk…
…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.
Universal Orlando said Marvel characters will remain a staple at its parks.
“Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the Marvel characters are an important part of the Universal Orlando experience. They will remain so,” said Tom Schroder, a Universal spokesman. “Our agreement with Marvel stands for as long as we follow the terms of our existing contract and for as long as we want there to be a Marvel Super Hero Island.”
So in response to several comments from blog readers, there are a separate set of rights for the Marvel characters in question – theme park rights.