Why Disneyland Resort’s upcoming superhero area won’t (and can’t) be called “Marvel Land”

in Disney, Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Marvel, Theme Parks

Just a few weeks ago, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California– home of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom– finally made an official announcement regarding its upcoming highly-anticipated new area set to replace A Bug’s Land at Disney California Adventure theme park. While no official name has been announced, so far they’re calling it a “Super Hero-themed land.” And noticeably, they’re not using the word “Marvel.”

A couple years ago I noticed a similar phenomenon across the esplanade at Disneyland: the park’s short-lived Super Hero HQ interactive museum did not feature “Marvel” in its name, despite housing meet-and-greets with Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor. So why not “Marvel’s Super Hero HQ”? And why not “Marvel Land” at DCA? I know Walt Disney World is very limited in its usage of Marvel characters due to the existence of Marvel Superhero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, but what’s in a name for the unaffected Anaheim parks?

WATCH SUPER HERO HQ TOUR AT DISNEYLAND:

As it turns out, Disneyland Resort isn’t quite unaffected by the Universal deal. In fact, had Universal Studios Hollywood chosen to build a Marvel attraction (or attractions) around the same time that Islands of Adventure went up, Disneyland wouldn’t be able to use those characters either– even though Disney now owns Marvel outright.

According to a very informative piece which ran this past weekend in the Los Angeles Times, it’s all due to an overall deal struck between Marvel Entertainment and Universal’s then-parent company MCA in 1994. While most fans are aware that Universal still controls the theme park rights to Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, and more east of the Mississippi river, what many may not realize is that the deal could have covered the entire country had Universal chosen to act on it out west.

WATCH MARVEL-THEMED LAND ANNOUNCEMENT FROM D23 EXPO 2017:

Fortunately for Disney, Universal Studios Hollywood remains without a Marvel attraction of any kind (although I kind of miss its long-gone Marvel Mania restaurant) and Disneyland Resort is free to use as many Marvel characters as it likes in its two parks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t carry over to the “Marvel” name itself.

Apparently the fine print in the original contract includes a clause that prevents Disney (or anyone else) from name an area after one of the most famous comic book brands.

The agreement says that regardless of which side of the Mississippi River a theme park is located, “Marvel may not permit a licensee to use the name ‘Marvel’ as part of the attraction name or marketing.”

So there you have it. Disneyland Resort will get a “Superhero-themed land” in 2020, but nowhere in its name will it include the word “Marvel.” Disney can say it is working “in partnership with Marvel Studios and Marvel Themed Entertainment,” as it does in its announcement from March, but they can’t call it “Marvel Land.” With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder what the final name for the area will turn out to be. Any suggestions?

4 Comments

  1. Oscar Marquez

    Unfortunately, MCA never existed since 1996. the Universal Studios business passes from owner to owner (first it was Seagram from 1996 to 2000, then it was passed Vivendi (Vivendi Universal during that time) from 2000-2004, the pression that got Vivendi plans to sell the 80% of Vivendi Universal Entertainment to General Electric (owner of NBC) and became NBCUniversal (later sold to Comcast).

    In 2016, Comcast bought DreamWorks Animation and put it under NBCUniversal. When came 2017, and Disney announced their plans to buy assets from 21st Century Fox (including 20th Century Fox).

    20th Century Fox currently owns the distribution rights to 2013-2017 DreamWorks Animation films and home video rights to Madly Madagascar; while Disney owns the broadcasting rights to Shrek the Halls (via ABC). If the Disney/Fox deal goes through, then there a possible chance for Disney to make an exchange deal with NBCUniversal. Where Disney gets the rest of Marvel assets from NBCUniversal (theme park rights to Marvel (Florida, Japan and the use ‘Marvel’ name), film rights to Hulk and distribution rights to The Incredible Hulk), if NBCUniversal gets the rest of DreamWorks Animation assets from Disney/Fox.

  2. TimP

    “Marvel may not permit a licensee to use the name ‘Marvel’”

    I thought this should have been the Marvel loophole since Marvel could claim to use its name for itself, and Marvel isn’t technically licensing Marvel to itself. Oh well. I’m not a lawyer so this is just theoretical.

  3. M Land- Gets Around the Marvel Rule

  4. Given the poster? It’s gonna be ‘Avengers’ something, I’ll bet you. All of their eggs are currently in that particular big fat basket so you better believe they’re going to hype it as much as possible. All of their big titles (Captain America, Thor, all of that) are firmly tied to the ‘Avengers’ name and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see the land open up more or less at the same time as the finale of Infinity War hits theaters.

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