TPT logo

Your guide to theme parks in Orlando and beyond

 

Main menu

4 INSANE Restrictions on Marvel Characters at Disney Parks

By now, it’s pretty much common knowledge that the reason why Disney hasn’t cashed in on the billion-dollar Marvel franchise at Walt Disney World is because of a pesky little contract signed in the 1990s (which you can read yourself here) that allows Universal to have exclusive rights to the Marvel characters east of the Mississippi river.

However, while you probably already know the basics of this contract, there are some details you might not have been aware of previously. However, with the recent confirmation that a Guardians of the Galaxy overlay of the Tower of Terror is coming to Disney California Adventure and persistent rumors swirling that a wholly different Guardians of the Galaxy attraction is coming to Epcot in the near future, we figured now might be a good time to go over some of the finer points of this contract that affect not only Walt Disney World, but other Disney parks as well.  

1. “Marvel” cannot be in any Disney park, period

Image: Marvel 

One of the biggest revelations from last week’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT announcement was that this new(ish) attraction will anchor an all new land filled with Marvel themed characters. However, if you think this new area will be called “Marvel Land”, you’d be mistaken. Here’s a very important item in the official contract: 

East or West of The Mississippi – permitted uses shall be limited to the use of specific Marvel characters and Marvel may not permit a licensee to use the name “Marvel” as part of the attraction name or marketing.

Essentially, this clause means Disney can’t use the Marvel name inside its parks, even though they are allowed to use the characters on the west coast. That’s why, when Disney announced the new land featuring Marvel characters, they announced it as a “broader universe of Super Heroes”. However, the name issue wasn’t the only reason for the strange verbiage in Disney’s announcement of this new land...

2. There are severe restrictions on marketing of attractions with Marvel characters

Image: Disney

In addition to the name restrictions, the contract with Universal is very strict on how any attraction featuring Marvel characters can be marketed. Here’s the salient excerpt from the contract:

Character[s] will not be advertised or promoted by means of (x) spot television buys, billboards, personal appearances, or print advertisements which are (y) viewed, located or primarily directed to persons within 300 miles of Orlando. In other words, regional (i.e. covering a multi-state geographic region) or national television or print media buys, or brochures would not be prohibited within such 300 mile radius.

What this basically means is that Disney cannot advertise this new attraction via commercials, print ads, etc. anywhere but in Disneyand’s backyard, as there is a marketing blackout within a 300-mile radius of Orlando.

Image: Disney

It’s surprisingly unclear whether this related to online advertising (blogs, social media posts, etc.) but considering the original blog post announcing Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT is still up, we’d imagine Disney has a little bit of legal wiggle room here.

Go to page:

Pages

There are 8 comments.

I am not a lawyer, but can Disney say Universal is damaging their brand, because they are owned by Comcast?
Comcast has a very well earned reputation as the worst company in America. The disgust people feel about Comcast could in theory spill over to how they feel about Universal, it's theme parks, and Marvel.
I know most people don't connect the corporate dots like that, but I do know a lot of people who will not go to Universal simply because they refuse to give money to Comcast.

I think you have misread the contract when it comes to advertising/marketing. There is no media blackout in the 300 mile radius from Universal Orlando. This only applies to "spot buys" which here is defined as locally targeted ads aimed within the 300 mile zone. If you read the proceding section, it says there are no restrictions on media buys if they are national in focus, not aimed at a specific region within the 300 mile area. This means Disney would be free to advertise it's super hero land at Disneyland nationally including within the 300 mile area provided that area wasn't specifically targeted by the marketing, but such marketing had a national focus.

Id love to see the contract for what can and cant be used. From what i know Disneyland does not have the same contract controversy as florida and Disneyland resort is free to use Marvel at will. The reason they are using the broader universe of superheros tag right now is cuz they are not going to announce another expansion before star wars land is completed. DCA has a whole area that is going to be dedicated to Marvel land once Star wars land is completed.

this article is dumb.. you should fact check all this. CA Disneyland Resort is free to use Marvel as they please

Who cares if the Marvel name can't be used in California? Use the hero names for attractions.

As a Disney Parks fanatic who doesn't care much for Marvel, I love every bit about this article. I hope Universal holds strong to their rights.

Everything I have read says they can't use ANY characters that are Marvel. Why are Guardians excluded from this?

Could a broader super hero themed land be open to including including the Incredibles?

Pages

Connect with Theme Park Tourist: