Rumor StatusIn Development
This rumor tracker will be our catch all rumor track for Marvel theme parks rights rumors. With confirmation of what Disney can legally do surrounding certain Marvel characters, this rumor tracker will be used to monitor those rights.
Current Confirmed Marvel Projects in the parks:
- Guardians of the Galaxy attraction going to Epcot's Universe of Energy Pavilion
History of Marvel Appearances in Walt Disney World
- Disney Movie Magic (Debuted May 28, 2017) - A projection show at Disney's Hollywood Studios featured segments for Doctor Strange and the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Meet and Greet (Debuted May 5, 2017) - A meet and greet held inside Walt Disney One Man's Dream.
- Doctor Strange Meet and Greet (November 4, 2016 - December 1, 2016) - An interactive Meet and Greet ran in Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
- The Great Movie Ride (September 22, 2015 - August 13, 2017) - A clip from Guardians of the Galaxy is currently featured in the finale film montage.
- Super Hero Headquarters (April 26, 2015 - Present) Retail location in Disney Springs features in store graphics of Avengers characters as well as other families of characters currently in use at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. On October 1, 2016 the marquee for the building was changed to add the name Marvel. This was previously believed to be outside the terms of the contract, however it is assumed publicly that because the store is outside of a Theme Park it is exempt from that restriction.
- Villains Unleashed Party (August 23, 2014) - Star-Lord and Gamora appeared as part of the Awesome Mix Dance Party at the Villains Unleashed hard ticket party at Hollywood Studios.
- Monorail (March 31, 2012) - An Avengers themed/wrapped monorail ran on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop to promote the Avengers movie.
Marvel Theme Park Rights:
When the Walt Disney Corporation acquired Marvel in 2009 they acquired movie distribution rights and theme park rights to many Marvel properties. However, an existing contract with Universal Studios (signed with MCA Inc and Marvel) prohibits most of the popular Marvel characters to be used in any other theme park East of the Mississippi River.
Since the 2009 acquisition, speculation has existed that Disney would re-acquire the theme park rights for some or all of the Marvel Characters. The contract includes vague language about various, "families" of characters and the public understanding is that the following properties are under the control of Comcast/Universal:
- The Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America)
- The Fantastic Four
- The X-Men
Other specifications regarding the contract are believed to include that the name, "Marvel" cannot appear on or in any Disney World attraction regardless of whether or not the characters in the attraction are allowed in the park. Disney can sell Marvel themed merchandise in their theme parks and they currently use the word Marvel on the marquee for the Super Hero Headquarters retail location in Disney Springs.
The original MCA Inc and Marvel contract can be found here.
Characters known to be allowed in the Walt Disney World Theme Parks:
- Guardians of the Galaxy (Characters from the movie based Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Doctor Strange
- Big Hero 6
Other Developments in the Marvel rights:
On October 1, 2016, a new sign appeared on Superhero Headquarters at Disney Springs that featured the Marvel logo. It is unknown whether or not this store would fall under the limited use of the Marvel name as it does not exist inside a theme park.
On December 14, 2017 Disney announced that it will be acquiring a portion of Twenty First Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock. The purchase includes rights or partial rights to several characters in the Marvel Universe for movies. It has also led into speculation about new intellectual properties that can be offered/exchanged with Comcast/Universal for the rights to the Marvel characters. At this point in time that is nothing more than speculation.
June 10, 2019: MiceChat.com is reporting that the center "spine" of Epcot will be referred to as Epcot Center and a Doctor Strange show will be added to this space.
March 3, 2019: On Episode 209 of the Disney Dish Podcast, Jim Hill mentioned that the activities and characters represented inside the Play Pavilion are expected to be ever changing. He also indicated that Bob Chapek is a fan of the "Black Box theater" concept that would allow Disney to recreate past experiences/attractions and something like that may ultimately become incorporated into this space.
As part of this discussion, Jim also indicated that there was a desire at one point to use this space as a Wakanda Outreach Center.
December 10, 2018: Imagineer Scot Drake posted an article to the Disney Parks Blog regarding Marvel projects in Hong Kong and Disneyland. In the article he identified himself as creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering’s Global Marvel Portfolio. This appears to be a new role for Drake, presumably taking over the Marvel portfolio from Joe Rohde.
October 21, 2018: Head Imagineer of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Marvel Projects, Joe Rohde posted to Instagram that he was in Orlando for 36 hours. In a follow up post he stated, "Sometimes it might seem a little silly… But very important decisions are made in some very short periods of time… And you kind of have to be there for that period of time."
March 6, 2018: On Episode #149 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast, Jim Hill discusses the possibility of Disney re-acquiring the Florida theme park rights for Black Panther and utilizing the existing Wonders of Life Pavilion as a domed Wakanda environment. Additionally, he reports that Disney is looking to use Black Panther as part of a new lagoon show at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
December 14, 2017: Disney announced that it will be acquiring a portion of Twenty First Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock. The purchase includes rights or partial rights to several characters in the Marvel Universe for movies. It has also led into speculation about new intellectual properties that can be offered/exchanged with Comcast/Universal for the rights to the Marvel characters. At this point in time that is nothing more than speculation.
July 15, 2017: At the 2017 D23 Expo, Disney officially confirmed that a Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction will replace Ellen's Energy Adventure. Ellen's Energy Adventure will have it's last day of operation on August 13th and then work will begin on the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.
Concept art shows that the Universe of Energy building will remain and a Nova Corps ship will be built outside as an icon. Additional characters including Groot and other aliens also appear in the concept art.
As part of the presentation, it was explained that Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord) visited EPCOT Center as a child and that will tie the attraction to the park.
June 1, 2017: On the latest episode of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast, Jim Hill mentions that a version of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! is expected to be created for Florida, on or behind the existing area for Ellen's Energy Adventure. He did not specify whether or not this would be a drop tower similar to the one found in Disney California Adventure, but he did specify that the Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios does not appear to be the destination for the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.
May 31, 2017: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that he has heard the replacement for Ellen's Energy Adventure would be based on an intellectual property that isn't Marvel, Tron, or Big Hero 6.
May 26, 2017: A new projection show called Disney Movie Magic debuted at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The show included segments from Doctor Strange and the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
May 11, 2017: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that with regards to a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure, "Internal, management level and technical problems have slowed development. If they'll be enough to stall or even scrap the proposal time will tell."
May 9, 2017: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that the Marvel plans for Walt Disney World are in flux, and Disney is rethinking the placement of Guardians of the Galaxy in Epcot.
May 5, 2017: The Star-Lord and Baby Groot Meet and Greet has debuted today inside Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. Attractions Magazine tweeted a picture of the experience.
March 21, 2017: WDWMagic.com user MagicFeather is reporting that the expected likelihood of projects taking place in Epcot is as follows:
- Mission: SPACE update/refurbishment
- Ratatouille attraction in the France Pavilion
- Guardians of the Galaxy attraction replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure
- Small attraction addition to the United Kingdom Pavilion
- First new country in World Showcase (Likely Brazil)
- Living with the Land/The Land Pavilion refurbishment
- Second new country in World Showcase (Likely Spain)
February 15, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog announced several Marvel additions coming to Disney California Adventure. One of the additions was a Groot meet and greet.
February 9, 2017: An open casting call was recently placed on DisneyAuditions.com for a Star Lord character look alike. The casting call is for Thursday February 23rd at 4 PM and the full description is as follows:
Disney Creative Entertainment is seeking Male Look-alike performers to help portray Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord from the film, Guardians of the Galaxy, at an upcoming special limited engagement at the Walt Disney World Resort, near Orlando, FL. Performers should be local to the Central Florida area, and should be available to begin work within the next two months.
Performers hired into this role will also have the opportunity to bring to life the world-famous Disney Characters, in Character greeting experiences at our Parks and Resorts.
Seeking the following role:
Peter Quill/Star-Lord: Male, 6’ – 6’3”, with an athletic/muscular build. Peter Quill is an interstellar adventurer who must rally an unlikely team of cosmic misfits to prevent a powerful villain from destroying the galaxy. He is quick-witted, roguish, adventurous, and charming. Type Cast.
It appears this casting call will be for a limited engagement, similar to the Doctor Strange experience that took place as part of the promotion for the movie of the same name. It is assumed that both Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy characters are exempt from the existing Marvel licensing agreement that prohibits most characters from appearing inside a Disney World park.
December 1, 2016: The Doctor Strange Meet and Greet had its last day of operation in Pixar Place.
November 19, 2016: At the D23 "Destination D" event, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, Bob Chapek stated that the Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World will not be rethemed to Guardians of the Galaxy.
November 4, 2016: The Doctor Strange Meet and Greet debuts in Pixar Place.
November 2, 2016: WDWNT.com is reporting that a Doctor Strange meet and greet will debut November 4th at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Meet and Greet is expected to take place near the exit for the new Toy Story Mania 3rd track. Additionally, the article mentions that Disney will not be allowed to promote the meet and greet outside of the park either online, in cast member publications or on the in park times guide due to restrictions outlined in the Marvel licensing agreement.
October 29, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 has placed Guardians of the Galaxy replacing Tower of Terror at a 70% chance.
October 29, 2016: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that his sources have told him that Guardians of the Galaxy has been green lit for the Energy Pavilion.
October 28, 2016: @CarouselOf on Twitter is reporting that Guardians of the Galaxy is coming as a replacement for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
October 27, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that the plans for Guardians of the Galaxy replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure were real plans that were ultimately canceled because the price exceeded the cost of Radiator Springs Racers. As a result, the plan has reverted back to Guardians of the Galaxy taking over Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios once Toy Story Land opens.
Plans for Ellen's Energy Adventure are no longer set in stone but one possible concept is something Tron related.
October 27, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that Guardians of the Galaxy is no longer being considered as a replacement for Ellen's Energy Adventure.
October 7, 2016: @CarouselOf on Twitter is reporting that Guardians of the Galaxy is no longer being considered for Universe of Energy and will instead be going to Hollywood Studios in a location other than Tower of Terror.
October 4, 2016: WDWNT.com is reporting that construction inside One Man's Dream is for a Dr. Strange meet and greet location.
October 1, 2016: WDWMagic.com user djkidkaz posted a photo of the new sign at Superhero Headquarters at Disney Springs. The sign now features the Marvel logo which was believed to be against the existing legal agreement between Universal and Disney.
September 19, 2016: The Disney Parks Blog announced that a preview of the upcoming Marvel film, Dr. Strange will debut October 7th at Walt Disney: One Man's Dream in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
The movie opens in theaters November 4, 2016 and it's presence in a Disney World theme park marks only the second time a Marvel property has been legally allowed to appear inside a Disney World park.
Comcast/NBC Universal owns exclusive rights to the majority of Marvel characters in the Florida area but discussions about specific characters have been rumored as part of the ongoing Guardians of the Galaxy rumors.
Additionally, DisneyAuditions.com has an open casting call for "Male Actors for Doctor Strange." The casting call is Monday September 26 in Orlando and no other information was given.
September 19, 2016: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that Ellen's Energy Adventure is not closing in January and will be announced at a later date.
September 19, 2016: WDWNT.com is reporting that Ellen's Energy Adventure could possibly close in January and be officially announced at November's Destination D event.
September 18, 2016: Twitter user @CarouselOf claims to have seen plans for the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction that show the ride is a suspended coaster.
August 31, 2016: On the August 16th episode of The Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill, Jim mentioned both the height balloon test in Epcot as well as negotiations with Universal/Comcast that would allow Disney to use the Guardians of the Galaxy characters.
The attraction would be open by 2021 and would involve a complete demolition of the Universe of Energy pavilion. The ride system is expected to be a roller coaster.
August 18, 2016: WDWNT.com is reporting that the rumored Guardians of the Galaxy attraction coming to Epcot's Future World is expected to be a roller coaster.
August 5, 2016: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that alternative proposals do exist related to Guardians of the Galaxy and The Great Movie RIde.
August 1, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction in Epcot is not a done deal yet and they are still considering replacing Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2 to 2 1/2 years.
July 25, 2016: On a Premium Episode of The Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill, Jim mentioned that the Universe of Energy overhaul is not guaranteed, but Disney wanted to get Guardians of the Galaxy into the parks somehow.
July 23, 2016: At San Diego Comic Con and the Disney Parks Blog, Disney officially announced that a new Guardians of the Galaxy inspired attraction would be taking over the Disney California Adventure version of Tower of Terror. The new attraction is called Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Escape". The attraction is expected to close in early 2017, reopening in Summer 2017. A video explaining the attraction can be found here:
The confirmation regarding only the California version of the Tower of Terror is an indication that Disney will not be making the same changes to the Hollywood Studios version of the attraction. While not confirmed, this also could be a sign that the larger scale Guardians of the Galaxy attraction replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure will be the path taken in Walt Disney World. At this time, we are considering the Epcot version of the attraction as "In Development" with the "Hollywood Studios" version of the attraction as Dead.
July 18, 2016: WDWMagic.com has posted photos of height test balloons over Epcot. Speculation is that this is related to the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction and would be an addition or replacement to the existing Energy Pavilion.
June 29, 2016: BlogMickey.com is reporting that Ellen's Energy Adventure could be replaced with a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.
June 29, 2016: WDWNT.com is reporting that Mission: SPACE may be the landing spot for Guardians of the Galaxy.
June 29, 2016: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that Guardians of the Galaxy will be replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure. Additionally, a potential Phase 2 could expand the Guardians of the Galaxy area to include the Wonders of Life area as well.
June 28, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that Guardians of the Galaxy is likely headed to one of two pavilions in Epcot's Future World.
June 13, 2016: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that it looks like this project is dead for Orlando.
May 12, 2016: The TV show @midnight mentioned the rumor that a Guardians of the Galaxy overlay is coming to Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure.
May 3, 2016: MiceChat.com posted a Disneyland update, in which they explained that the Guardians of the Galaxy rumor is indeed true for Disney California Adventure. While the article offered no additional confirmation about changes to the Hollywood Studios version of the attraction, details on the California Adventure version are as follows:
- Attraction to close this fall, re-opening in May with the premier for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 being at Disney California Adventure.
- Exterior and interior refurbishment would take place.
- Testing has been taking place since the winter.
- The storyline would involve The Collector character from the movie.
- The project could potentially be canceled if problems continue in Shanghai, Disneyland.
April 19, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that while the budget for this project hasn't been approved for Fiscal Year 2017 it is, "almost a done deal for Anaheim and still likely for Orlando."
April 15, 2016: On Episode 101 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast, Jim Hill reported that the rumored bar inside of Tower of Terror seems to be done as a replacement to the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay.
April 7, 2016: WDWMagic.com user MansionButler84 is reporting that an alternative proposal for Guardians of the Galaxy would be an overlay to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
March 28, 2016: On the most recent premium episode of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast, Jim discusses the overlay of Guardians of the Galaxy on Tower of Terror. According to Jim, this stemmed from guests in Orlando being upset that Hyperspace Mountain was not included in the Disney World Star Wars event, but was included in Disneyland. As a result of fan response, Chairman of Parks and Resorts, Bob Chapek was attempting to make good on the Hyperspace Mountain complaints and wanted to have this overlay on both coasts. However, there was a significant fan outcry about this that has reportedly caused them to reconsider.
Jim also mentioned that legally there would be questions around use of the Guardians of the Galaxy characters when Avengers Infinity War debuts in theaters in 2018. That movie is expected to have the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy fighting alongside the characters in the Avengers which would then potentially make a theme park attraction a breach of contract.
March 21, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that the project appears to be 90% certain for Disney California Aventure and 50% certain for Disney's Hollywood Studios. President of Walt Disney World, George Kalogridis is reportedly concerned about issues with park operations that would result from the closure of Tower of Terror. He has proposed modifying one side of the attraction at a time.
March 20, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 offered more detail on the Tower of Terror project. He said that this product is in development and was fueled by Bob Chapek's (head of Parks and Resorts) desire to get Marvel into the stateside parks quickly. The initial plan of a Captain America inspired coaster and Disney California Adventure has been delayed due to the cost overruns in Shanghai.
In order to get more value the desire would be to change both Disney California Adventure's version of Tower of Terror as well as Disney's Hollywood Studios version. The timeline would be a January 2017 closure for California with the attraction re-opening by May or June. The Florida would likely follow. There is the potential that this change would be nothing more than a seasonal overlay in Florida, but a desire to add more to that park has this likely being a permanent overhaul to the attraction.
March 19, 2016: In a follow up post on WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that Disney is looking to overhaul Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure with a Guardians of the Galaxy theme. The area near Tower of Terror in California has previously been rumored to become a Marvel themed area.
In a subsequent post he explained that the concept would be a visit to The Collector's mansion.
Per his report, the overhaul is being seriously considered for Disney's Hollywood Studios as well.
March 19, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that Marvel content is coming to Walt Disney World.
September 22, 2015: A clip from Guardians of the Galaxy debuts in the finale montage at The Great Movie Ride
July 9, 2015: WDWMagic.com is reporting that Imagineer Joe Rohde has been assigned as the Global Creative Lead of the Marvel Properties within the Theme Parks.
July 3, 2015: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 has reported that the portion of the $3 billion+ budget coming to Walt Disney World that will be allocated to Epcot could be used for upgrades at the Energy Pavilion and Imagination Pavilion.
April 27, 2015: WDWNT.com is reporting that "something is up" at Universal where attractions like The Incredible Hulk and Dr. Doom's Fearfall are expected to be re-themed and removed respectively. The site speculates that this may lead the way for a partial or full sale of the theme park rights to the Marvel characters back to Disney for use in Disney World.
April 26, 2015: Super Hero Headquarters opens at Disney Springs. The location sells Marvel merchandise and includes internal graphics that reflect characters in The Avengers, X-Men and other "families" currently in use at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
August 23, 2014: Star Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy appear at the "Villains Unleashed" hard ticketed event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It is understood that the Guardians of the Galaxy characters were not part of the original theme park rights agreement between Marvel and Universal.
July 4, 2014: A "Sneak Peak" of Guardians of the Galaxy debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios,.
March 31, 2012: An Avengers themed monorail is placed on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. The understanding is that the monorail cannot appear on the Epcot loop as it would be considered a Marvel themed attraction inside a theme park. The Magic Kingdom resort and express monorail loops do not technically enter the Magic Kingdom park, while the Epcot monorail does.
August 3, 2009: The Walt Disney Company acquires Marvel Entertainment for a cost of $4.24 billion.
February, 2009: MCA Inc elects to not renew the exclusive theme park rights for the Marvel Characters for Universal Studios Hollywood.