Incredible Hulk coaster

The Disneyland Paris Resort is pondering the addition of a third theme park based on Marvel's superhero characters, following the agreement of a new deal with the French government.

As reported yesterday, the new deal extends the deadline by which parent company Euro Disney SCA is required to build a third theme park at the resort from 2017 to 2030. Chief executive Philippe Gas has now revealed that a park based on Marvel's characters is one option under consideration, although a decision to build the park may not come until 2020.

Disney acquired Marvel in a $4 billion deal last September, sending shockwaves through the entertainment industry. With the deal came the rights to iconic characters such as Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk, which Disney hopes will increase its appeal with teenage boys.

Any use of the Marvel characters in Disney parks is complicated by the presence of Marvel Superhero Island at rival Universal's Islands of Adventure. The details of Universal's licensing deal with Marvel (struck long before it was taken over by Disney) are not public. However, it is understood from filings Universal made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it retains the exclusive rights to utilise the Marvel characters in areas of the US east of the Mississippi river for as long as its attractions are in operation - meaning that Disney is free to exploit them elsewhere.

Disneyland Paris will focus on enhancing the resort's second park, Walt Disney Studios, in the short-to-medium term. In August, it opened Toy Story Playland, a new area based on the popular Pixar Series. Another Pixar favourite, Ratatouille, is the subject for a planned $150 million headline attraction that it set to open at the park in 2012.

Gas claims that if work on Walt Disney Studios is completed early, the timeframe for the construction of a third park could be brought forward. This suggests that further enhancements will be made to the movie-themed park between 2012 and 2020, beyond the addition of Ratatouille.

As part of the deal with the French government, the amount of land allocated to Disneyland Paris will be enlarged from 1,943 hectares to 2,230 hectares. This will enable the construction of a new resort complex, dubbed ”Les Village Nature de Val d’Europe”, featuring a lake, a forest, hotels, restaurants and outdoor recreation facilities. The new development would be built via a joint venture with travel group Pierre & Vacances, and Euro Disney SCA claims it could generate up to 70,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Disneyland Paris has struggled with weak revenue figures and a huge debt burden over the last few years, but remains Europe's most popular tourist attaction. In 2009, some 15.4 million people visited the resort, although hotel occupancy and revenue numbers plunged compared to the previous year.

What theme would you like to see adopted for the third theme at Disneyland Paris? Join our Big Debate and share your views.

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Sounds like a great idea, the place could really do with a third gate - and, yes, continued expansion to Studios.

I'd love to see a third park that was an all-new concept, rather than a clone of an existing Disney park. Marvel fits the bill nicely.

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