Disney Considers Forcing Universal Theme Park Land to Close, Report Says

in Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

Universal and Disney

Credit: Universal (Left)

Disney could force Universal to completely remove a popular land from its theme park.

The competition between Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort has always been a healthy one. Both Orlando tourist destinations draw millions of visitors each year, and it has been recently reported that Universal Orlando is “stepping up its game” in its attempt to compete with Disney.

mickey mouse in front of cinderella castle
Credit: Disney

Universal Orlando Resort is currently in the midst of constructing the Epic Universe, which will be the largest Universal Park in the world. The theme park will open in 2025 and, in addition to the Epic Universe, Universal is in the midst of constructing three more hotels.

While all of these moves are steps in the right direction to ensure that competition heats up with Disney, it seems that there is one agreement in place that could throw a wrench in the plans of Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood, at least in terms of one popular land.

According to a report from The Street, Disney and Comcast– Universal’s parent company– could find themselves in an awkward situation in just a few years.

universal orlando resort
Credit: Universal

While Universal Orlando has owned the rights to Marvel characters in theme parks for a couple of decades now in an agreement that seems to be indefinite, there is one deal that will reportedly come to an end in 2028: The Simpsons.

The report reads:

“The original Universal Studios theme park in Florida and its counterpart in California both have a “land” based on Springfield, home to television’s longest-running comedy, “The Simpsons.” That deal was made before Disney acquired the popular show, and unlike the Marvel deal, it appears to have an expiration date.

“Rumors indicate the duration is a 20-year licensing agreement, putting the end year at 2028. However, unlike the Marvel contract, there is no “in perpetuity” clause or region-based restrictions.” 

The 20-year deal matches other news reports about when the rights expire, but neither Disney nor Universal has commented on the arrangement. And while 2028 is more than five years away, there are some anecdotal signs that Universal may be prepared to move on from “The Simpsons.”

The Simpsons Ride
Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

It’s unclear if Disney would want to add The Simpsons to its theme park experience, but that IP could allow Disney the opportunity to negotiate a deal to workaround the Marvel deal that Universal Orlando currently has in place.

If Universal is unwilling to give up or allow Disney to use Marvel characters, Disney could essentially force Universal to close down Springfield at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood altogether.

At this point, it’s unclear how these negotiations will unfold, but it is certainly something to watch as we approach the 20-year-mark for the license agreement.

What do you think about Springfield potentially closing at Universal? Let us know in the comments!

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