Disney purchasing Marvel – What will this mean for Islands of Adventure?


The Walt Disney Company announced today they’re acquiring Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in cash and stock. This means Disney will own rights to 5,000 Marvel characters such as Spider-Man, Hulk, Capt. America, The X-Men, Dr. Doom, Fantastic Four and more.

So what will this mean for the future of Universal Islands of Adventure and its Marvel Super Hero Island? This section of the park includes rides such as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Dr. Doom’s Fearfall, Storm Force Accelatron and The Incredible Hulk Coaster. In addition to the rides, there are many Marvel walk-around characters in the park.

Marvel shareholders will receive $30 per share in cash plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share they own. The boards of Disney and Marvel have both approved the transaction, but it requires an antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.

There’s no word from Universal yet on the future of the land.


Disney’s President Bob Iger appeared on CNBC earlier today and had this to say, “Marvel characters have already proven to be strong in terms of theme park attraction and we believe there are a lot of opportunities around the world, not in every one of our parks because there are some existing agreements that we obviously have to honor, but in a number of places for us to use the Marvel characters to basically help us grow our theme park business and better entertain people.”

Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder 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 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.”

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Marvel has various deals with Universal Orlando. But the agreements governing The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride 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 Islands of Adventure.
You can read the whole Sentinel story here.


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  1. I also worry about the movies… Marvel has been doing a wonderful job with the movies that they’ve produced themselves. Hopefully, Disney will act only as distributor, instead of the meddler that Warner Bros. is with the DC properties.

  2. I think the current length of the deal with Universal be done and then from there I imagine the deal would not be renewed. As for the Marvel movies, I really don’t think that Disney would undermind the movies and most likely release some future Marvel under the Touchstone or Miramax banners. I do think that you won’t however see any of the current productions like SPiderman 4, Captain America, Iron Man 2, Avengers and Thor change their distributor as their contracts have been done already.

  3. It does open up some great possibilities for Disney’s Imagineers to come up with themed attractions, and redo those horrid costumes Universal made up for Captain America, Wolverine etc… I agree with Michael, once contracts are signed, sealed and delivered there is no breaching of that agreement, so production will remain as is for the duration of those projects. Looks like Universal is yet again hit with a major blow as they now must rethink the entire Marvel Land at Adventure Island into something totally different. What will become of the beloved Hulk, Spider-man and Doctor Doom rides? Probably re-themed, redone and no longer with Marvel branding… Sigh, better go there and take as many pictures as you can at IOA, once the deal is final and Marvel shareholders confirm, I would imagine Universal would have a time window, 1-2 years to or maybe even sooner to release the Marvel franchise.

  4. I wouldnt worry about Disney meddling too much. Pixar still makes amazing movies despite their merger. If anything, Up and Wall-E have been the best yet.

  5. Just thought of something: Spiderman 3-D ride could just get some new animation, and they could make it a Harry Potter ride- like riding a broomstick, or a Quidditch match or something.

    That would be cool to have a 3-D ride through Hogwarts

  6. Any word on how much time the contract between Universal and Marvel had left? The Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man are two of the biggest attractions drawing some guests away from Disney. If Disney refuses to renew the contract, and this is a sad attempt by Disney to get those guests back, well, today is a sad day. Excuse me for not knowing much of the legal issues between parks.

    And concerning the movies, hopefully Disney knows better than to mess with the movies. They should be aware of the fanbase and Disney shouldn’t mess them up right when Marvel gets it right.

  7. Josh,
    Yes, DC characters are at Six Flags parks, but I’m not sure of the details of their agreement.

    We also don’t know the details of Universal’s agreement with Marvel, but are trying to find out. Stay tuned.

  8. Hey, all’s fair in business. If the people who bought Grumman’s Chinese Theater after DHS was built can tell Disney they don’t want their property featured at the theme park which caused the much maligned hat to be built, then Disney can say they don’t want to renew the licensing agreement.

  9. Some more news as posted on https://www.superherohype.com/news.php?id=8645

    UPDATE #1: In a conference call, the companies said that the deals for movies for characters at other studios (Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.) will stay in place under the terms set by Marvel and the other studios.

    UPDATE #2: John Lasseter met with Marvel last week about a possible team-up between Marvel and Pixar and got “pretty excited, pretty fast.” They say there’s definitely an opportunity there.

    UPDATE #3: The deal with Paramount Pictures to distribute “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “The Avengers” stays in place as well, but Disney would like to self-distribute down the line. “When the time comes we’ll take a closer look at it.”

  10. UPDATE #1: In a conference call, the companies said that the deals for movies for characters at other studios (Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.) will stay in place under the terms set by Marvel and the other studios.
    UPDATE #2: John Lasseter met with Marvel last week about a possible team-up between Marvel and Pixar and got “pretty excited, pretty fast.” They say there’s definitely an opportunity there.
    UPDATE #3: The deal with Paramount Pictures to distribute “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “The Avengers” stays in place as well, but Disney would like to self-distribute down the line. “When the time comes we’ll take a closer look at it.”

  11. If I remember right, Stan Lee has been working on some project for Disney for some time. Can anyone confirm?

  12. It all comes down to “when does the Universal Orlando/Marvel licensing agreement end, and what exactly are the terms”.

    Once Disney has the opportunity to get out of the deal, they probably will. Then Universal will probably close that part of the park and rebrand the rides and whole theme. It could be rebranded into something Universal owns or develops themselves, or they could license a different property.

  13. the queues for the rides were getting a bit old and stale anyway. it’s time they revamped that part of IOA. I think it’ll be good for the area.

  14. For anyone not very familiar with this kind of thing, it is similar to when Disney changed the MGM Studios to “Disney’s Hollywood Studios”. The contract with MGM ran out and MGM did not want to renew.

    Given that Universal will probably have to re-theme Super Hero Island, mostly out-of-the-box attractions like the Incredible Hulk coaster (B&M launched sitdown) and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall (dual S&S turbo shots) would not be too difficult to re-theme. However, the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is one of the most expensive attractions ever built. Like other nearby attractions, the queue line and all interior props would need to be replaced, but also all the projected films. Which means that the pre-programmed vehicle motions would be altered. And if the entire show changes, it is highly likely the ride would be retracked to match the new story. Hulk and Doom could be re-themed; Spidey would be gutted.

  15. It really makes me wonder how far Disney’s hand will go down into the Marvel pot. I’m just a tad worried about how it will also affect Marvel’s comics line. Can anyone say adios to any kind of violence in comic books?

  16. Chris – I don’t think you have to worry about losing the violence in the comics. I look at films owned by Disney released under Touchstone or Miramax as an example. I would think that Disney is smart enough not to change a known value. I’m certain someone could contradict me. Sorry, I’m a Disney fanboy.

    I agree with Josh, unfortunately, one of my favorite rides anywhere is Spiderman, but I think it could be gutted…

  17. My understanding is Universal has “perpetual” rights on Spiderman and Hulk East of the Mississippi as long as the rides operate. This means IOA is probably safe with Marvel as long as they choose. Disneyland and California Adventure could easily see Marvel Characters if Disney so chooses since Universal let their west coast rights lapse at the end of 2007. How about competing Spiderman rides?

  18. I actually did see that somewhere else, wrh, which is great news. I really doubt there will be competing Spider-Man rides. But if you’ve seen an aerial view of IOA, Super Hero Island has limited land for expansion, and there are endless possibilities for Marvel rides over in Anaheim. I had a little hunch earlier that Disney could possibly make Marvel the fifth WDW park, but again, it’s east of the Mississippi. Who knows?

  19. The MARVEL island at UNIVERSAL’s: IOA was originally supposed to be a DC island before construction began. They could change the HULK Coaster to The FLASH Coaster and paint it red… The Spiderman 3-D ride can be changed to BATMAN 3-D ride…. Hmmmm what will they change the Dr. DOOM ride to?

  20. According to Lighting509s on miceage, universals lease with marvel will end at the end of 2012, and with universal investing large capital in the upcoming harry potter theme park within a theme park, I dont think universal will be quick to retheme another land, and there is the possiblity of universal renewing their lease with disney owned marvel.

  21. I guess Disney could renew, but that would be akin to a baseball team trading for a player then letting him pinch hit for the other team.

    Of course, although both board have approved the sale, it still has to pass “anti-trust” monitoring. Sounds kind of funny – Disney is trying to have a monopoly on cartoon characters!?

  22. @ Joe Burke, re: the horrid costumes at Universal IoA.

    I was at Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday and their DC comics costumes (I saw the movie version Batman plus Green Lantern, Flash, Robin, Cheetah and Captain Cold) are pretty BAD (with the exception of the very cool (pardon the pun) Captain Cold costume). I’m talking about sub-Hallowe’en superstore bad…I’ve seen way better FAN MADE costumes at Comic conventions.

    Also, it didn’t help that the cast members there didn’t seem to know who they were playing (at both Universal and Disney they do great training of the characters)…The Flash and Green Lantern looked at me like I’d grown a third eye in my forehead when I referred to them as Barry and Hal…

  23. @ Eric: re: Marvel Island becoming DC Island, that would probably not happen since Time-Warners owns the Six Flags parks (Six Flags Great Adventure ALONE has Superman: The Ride, Batman: The Ride, Bizarro: The Ride and Batman:The Dark Knight Ride (and they used to have ANOTHER Batman themed ride called “The Chiller” a few years ago).

  24. Bryan, don’t remind me of The Chiller, that ride had a line that made me wish for Disney fastpass merge points that are fastpass heavy when you are in standby. Thankfully they closed that ride and replaced it.

    Anyway, I can see Spidey transforming into a Transformers ride possibly made for Transformer: Rise of the Fallen. As for the other rides, Universal has a big library to choose from and I am sure they can pick ones to fit in. And please NO MORE Harry Potter in IoA, they already killed the area that was Beastly Kingdom in Lost Continent.

  25. Im sure DC wouldnt mind an agreement with Universal, the things they have now at Six Flags parks are old. The decoration isnt even exciting. But doesnt Warner Bros. have some kind of partnership with DC? they already have Harry Potter so i dont think a DC super hero island is impossible. i think a Batman coaster for the Hulk with Dr.Doom changing into the Joker and Superman for Spiderman would work.