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Marvel park concept art

It probably hasn't escaped your attention that today is April Fool's Day. News websites all over the world are offering up fake stories designed to raise a laugh - but we've decided not to follow suit. Instead, we thought it would be fun to look at a "what if?" scenario. Disney has begun to develop theme park attractions based on Marvel comic books (it bought the firm in 2009), with the first true ride - the Iron Man Experience - due to open at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016.

But what if Disney built a FULL theme park based on Marvel's superheroes and villains? What types of ride might it include - and how would they compare to the existing rides in Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure?

Well, to take a look into the future, let's take a dip into the past. A Marvel Superheroes theme park was originally proposed for Dubailand, the mega-project that was to set overtake Walt Disney World as the largest theme park resort in the world. It was not to be designed or operated by Disney, but was instead due to be a joint venture between the United Arab Empire-based Al Ahli Group and Marvel Entertainment (it was announced in 2007, before Marvel was acquired by Disney).

Marvel Park (1)

The 2008 financial crisis put paid to those plans, although a different ambitious, indoor Marvel theme park dubbed IMG Worlds of Adventure is currently undergoing construction.

We're not sure what rides will appear in Dubai's new park, or in any potential future Disney-Marvel parks. But we do know which rides were to feature in the original Dubailand project. And some of them look AMAZING. Let's take a look!

Concept #1: The Layout

Here's the proposed layout of Dubai's original Marvel park, which offers a glimpse at the types of lands we might see in any future Disney park. The three Marvel lands are "City of Superheroes", "Oasis of Magic" and "Marvel's Mythical Mountain" (and we know how much Disney loves putting faux mountains into its parks). There's a fourth land based on Nickelodeon properties dubbed "Nick Neighborhood" that we can safely assume wouldn't make it into a Disney park. All of the lands are based around Crater Lake.

Overall, this looks like a more thrill-heavy theme park than a typical Disney park (in fact, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Islands of Adventure) - but would that be appropriate for Marvel in any case?

Marvel Park (3)

Marvel Park (2)

Concept #2: City of Superheroes

It's hard to imagine a Marvel theme park without some sort of sprawling Metropolis in it, waiting to be terrorized by villains and rescued by heroes. In the artwork below, it appears that Dr. Octopus is on the rampage.

Marvel Park (4)

Marvel Park (5)

Concept 3: Fantastic Four dark ride

The Dubai park was to feature a mystery attraction themed around the Fantastic Four, located at the entrance to the City of Superheroes. This appears likely to have been some kind of dark ride - an area that Disney specializes in, of course.

Marvel Park (6)

Concept 4: Marvel Superheroes 4-D

A 4-D attraction based around Marvel's characters would be a simple but perhaps unambitious addition to a Disney park - particularly given that a similar attraction already exists at Madame Tussauds London. Perhaps a Soarin'-style flying ride might be more appropriate?

Marvel Park (7)

Concept 5: Spider-Man dark ride

Hmm. This one looks a little familiar, doesn't it? Evidently, the designers of the Marvel park in Dubai had seen The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure and decided to build something similar. Is that a real freefall drop element at the end, though? Could we see Disney employ some Tower of Terror-esque technology here, using two types of ride vehicle to make real a drop experience that Universal's ride merely simulates?

Marvel Park (10)

Marvel Park (9)

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