Sure, The Walt Disney Company owns Marvel, but Orlando visitors will find its collection of superheroes and supervillains at a different theme park. Universal Orlando Resort sagely snatched up the rights for a Marvel-themed land back when the company was in dire financial straits in the 1990s. Today, it’s a highlight of any park visit. Here are a few fun facts about Marvel Super Hero Island.

The land has a comic book appearance

Image: UniversalTo Universal employees, the Marvel licensing was a huge deal. They worked on this property at a time when the comic book industry was in a state of flux, and Marvel had just come out of bankruptcy. The brand was at an all-time low, something difficult to imagine now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the film and toy industries.

Due to their excitement, these Universal workers relished the opportunity to play in the realm of comics. It wasn’t something that they’d done before, and their style is readily apparent. There’s a flat look to much of this themed land. It’s a feature, not a bug. Comic book panels are flat, and so a real-life version of them should look the same.

Other stylistic choices at the park stem from this strategy. The paint on the walls is Chrome-illusion paint, a kind you’ll famously find on sports cars. The genius of this paint is that it’ll change colors in different light, which is to say that it’s like The Dress argument. Car lovers adore the versatility of this paint, but it works even better at the Marvel land since the walls are “panels” that vary in appearance throughout the day.

You’ll remember the shop names

Image: UniversalIn a world that has Photoshop, comic book artists have creative license to name background locations and fill in their details. Back in Marvel’s earliest days, the staff faced tight deadlines and small budgets. They didn’t have time to do one of those The Simpsons jokes with a bunch of shop names like Hairy Shearers and Dead Lobster. They took a simplistic approach, naming the local bar as…Bar. And so forth.

Marvel Super Hero Island honors this bit of comic book history. A quick stroll through this land will lead you past signs that say Comic, Fruit, Boutique, Diner, Arcade, Shop, and Store. Yes, that’s a comic book store, a fruit stand, and five other places that are precisely what their names suggest.

Universal isn’t being lazy with these names. They’re hearkening back to the early days of Marvel. From a theme park tourist’s perspective, these names are helpful, too. “Let’s meet at Arcade” is a statement that lacks any possibility of confusion.


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