New Developments: Tom Holland’s ‘Spider-Man’ Now Featured in Universal Ride

in Entertainment, Universal Orlando


Universal Orlando’s acquisition of the rights to Marvel Comics for its theme parks has created a unique and somewhat awkward situation in today’s entertainment landscape.

With Disney now owning the screen rights to Marvel and having built a cinematic empire through the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), many fans have been left wondering about the implications for Marvel’s presence in theme parks. This complex scenario raises questions about potential deals, legal intricacies, and the curious sight of MCU-related merchandise at Universal Orlando Resort.

Rotating globe with the Universal Studios logo, under a clear blue sky, welcoming visitors to an adventurous theme park experience.
Credit: Universal

In the late 1990s, Universal Orlando Resort secured the rights to incorporate Marvel characters into its theme parks. This agreement allowed Universal to create some of its most popular attractions, such as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Disney’s acquisition of Marvel drastically changed the landscape

At the time, Marvel Comics was an independent entity looking to expand its reach and revenue streams, making the deal a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, the entertainment landscape drastically changed in 2009 when Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.

Disney’s acquisition of Marvel marked the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a groundbreaking series of interconnected films that have redefined the superhero genre. The MCU has become a cultural phenomenon, with characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man becoming household names. Given Disney’s extensive experience in theme park development, fans naturally speculated about the possibility of Marvel-themed attractions at Disney parks.

Universal Orlando Resort, Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Despite these expectations, Disney’s ability to incorporate Marvel characters into its theme parks has been limited. The agreement between Universal and Marvel restricts Disney from using many of the core Marvel characters in its East Coast parks, namely Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

As a result, Disney has focused on incorporating Marvel into its West Coast parks, such as Disneyland in California, where the restrictions do not apply. This led to the creation of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! at Disney California Adventure and the opening of Avengers Campus.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man spotted inside attraction

In a surprising twist, recent visitors to Universal Orlando’s gift shop at The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man have reported seeing a statue of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, the beloved character from the MCU.

Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland as Peter Parker hugging
Credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

This statue, along with other MCU-related merchandise, has raised eyebrows and sparked discussions among fans and industry insiders alike. How can Universal, which holds the theme park rights to Marvel characters, feature merchandise that directly references the MCU, which is owned by Disney?

The answer lies in the specific terms of the original agreement. While Universal owns the theme park rights to Marvel characters on the East Coast, it does not preclude the use of merchandise related to the characters as they appear in the MCU.

A Marvel Spider-Man action figure in a dynamic pose, dressed in the iconic red and black suit, stands on a stone base against a brick wall backdrop.
Credit: ITM

This legal nuance allows Universal to sell items featuring Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and other MCU characters without violating any agreements. Nonetheless, it creates an unusual situation where visitors can purchase merchandise tied to Disney’s cinematic universe while enjoying attractions at a rival theme park.

One of the most notable Marvel-themed attractions at a Disney park is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, an indoor roller coaster at EPCOT in Walt Disney World. This ride features characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy films and offers a thrilling experience that has been well-received by visitors. However, the introduction of Cosmic Rewind is a notable exception rather than the norm, as Disney continues to navigate the complexities of its agreement with Universal.

The future of Marvel rests in both Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort

The current state of affairs between Universal and Disney regarding Marvel rights remains complex and unlikely to change in the near future. Universal continues to benefit from its Marvel-themed attractions, drawing in countless visitors who are eager to experience rides based on their favorite superheroes.

The Avengers, including MCU stars Iron Man, Star-Lord, Drax, and Mantis, are grouped together and appear ready for battle in a chaotic, fiery landscape.
Credit: Marvel

On the other hand, Disney is leveraging its ownership of Marvel by creating immersive experiences and attractions in parks where the restrictions do not apply.

While fans may hope for a grand unification that allows for Marvel-themed attractions across all Disney parks, the reality is that legal agreements and corporate interests make such a scenario challenging.

For now, the sight of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man at Universal Orlando Resort serves as a reminder of the intricate web of rights and agreements that define the relationship between these entertainment giants.

What do you think of this interesting Marvel dynamic? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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