Monday, October 3, 2016

The Confusing State Of Marvel Theme Park Rules

Hi Everybody!

So this is super off topic, but I recently looked into some of the details, and I wanted to share some of my findings.

Let's start with a brief introduction of what I'm talking about.

Back in the 1990s, Marvel was desperate for some cash flow. Their sales were doing the trick, or they couldn't afford the fat stacks of coke they had gotten used to, or whatever, and they needed money, so they started whoring out everything they could. They sold movie rights to some of their biggest properties like X-men (to Fox) and Spider-man (to Sony). But they also sold theme park rights to Universal (for their then-future themepark Islands of Adventure).

If this all seems kinda dry to you, don't worry, it'll get a lot drier by the end. So, you know, maybe moisten yourself before reading further.

Anywho, I recently heard about a Guardians of the Galaxy ride in Disney's California Adventure (which, for those of you keeping score at home, is in California. That's important later, stay tuned). That led me to read this article about the specifics of the contract between Marvel and Universal's owner at the time, MCA.

Feel free to peruse it yourself, but the meat is that Universal and Disney (who now owns Marvel) are still in this contract that permits Universal to use Marvel characters east of the Mississippi River (for some reason) and disallows anyone from doing the same (east of the Mississippi). For those lucky theme parks west of the Mississippi, everything is Kosher as long as you don't use the word "Marvel".

Seriously, this is like a crappy off-brand action figure [2]

Did you notice how all the info about that new Guardian's ride didn't mention Marvel anywhere? Very crafty, Disney.

But wait, there's more! Apparently Disney could break this contract if Universal doesn't keep the park open, or if it falls into severe disrepair, or if they misrepresent the characters (which seems a little jumbly to me, but I guess the claim would have to hold up in court so whatever). This means that in the plausible event that Universal put the wrong toe out of line, Disney might cry foul play and pull the plug.

In Disney World, the chances of seeing anything in the near term are pretty slim. So until that contract is broken, nothing will happen. That's probably why they're putting so much Star Wars into those parks. They have total control of that stuff. And I'm guessing California will be getting quite a bit more Marvel themed items (without the brand name flair) in years to come.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the rides at Universal. It's a fun part of the park, and there's a pretty bitchin' comic shop, but I like Disney World a whole lot better. And I hate paying Universal prices so I can watch Cyclops walk around the street while I watch 3D Spider-man avoid 3D Whoever Spider-man Fights In That Ride. I'd much rather go to Disney World and see X-men while I can also see Mickey and Darth Maul hurling insults at each other (you know, if and when that becomes an attraction, (if it does, I'm totally taking credit, you heard it here first)).

Anyway, spreading the knowledge (to both of my readers). Tell all your theme park nerd friends! Or, if you don't have any, then screw you.

Until next time,


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