TPT logo

Your guide to theme parks in Orlando and beyond


Main menu

4 INSANE Restrictions on Marvel Characters at Disney Parks

3. If Disney were to ever get full Marvel rights back, it would be on Universal's terms

Under the current contract Universal owns the rights to Marvel “in perpetuity”; which basically means that the only way that the contract can be voided is if Disney can prove in a court of law that Universal has not been holding up the quality of the IP or is purposefully trying to damage the brand. Of course, none of these things have (or will ever) come to pass. So where does that leave Disney?

Essentially, nothing will change unless Universal comes to the table and decides that they want to make a deal. Though that could happen, Universal is benefitting quite a bit from this arrangement, and it seems unlikely they would give up their exclusivity rights anytime soon. While some have said that a partnership similar to the Disney/Sony collaboration that allowed Spider-Man to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 while still being licensed to Sony could come to pass, the fact is that Sony had a lot to gain from allowing Disney to use the character again in a film, while Universal would have virtually nothing to gain from allowing Disney to use Marvel characters at Walt Disney World, or the Marvel name at any theme park. 

4. Exceptions are few

Under the current contract with Universal, Marvel characters that are not being used inside Islands of Adventure are allowed to be used east of the Mississippi in theme park attractions. However, if you're thinking this only rules out Dr. Doom, Spider-Man, the X-Men and The Hulk, think again. Check out the following contract excerpt: 

Any other theme park is limited to using characters not currently being used by MCA at the time such other license is granted. [For purpose of this subsection and subsection iv, a character is “being used by MCA” if (x) it or another character of the same “family” (e.g., any member of THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THE AVENGERS or villains associated with a hero being used) is more than an incidental element of an attraction, is presented as a costumed character, or is more than an incidental element of the theming of a retail store or food facility

Not only are characters that appear specifically at Universal parks banned outside Islands of Adventure, but their families, teams, and even villains can not be used east of the Mississippi. So who does that leave? The Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6, and possibly the Inhumans (who you've probably never heard of anyway).

Image: Disney 

With so many restrictions on using Marvel not only at Walt Disney World but at Disneyland Resort as well, it seems a little bit strange that Disney seems to be going all in on a land they can't even name properly (can you imagine Star Wars Land being called long-time-ago space land?). What do you think? Is putting the as-yet untitled Marvel land at Disney California Adventure worth it with so many restrictions to consider? 

Go to page:


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?


Connect with Theme Park Tourist: