Disneyland recently announced that they would be expanding their parks and rides with Marvel-themed attractions based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s look at what’s currently in the parks, what to expect for the future, and how Universal Studios factors in.

The Announcement: Marvel-Themed Attractions in Three Parks

Disneyland’s announcement first broke on Marvel.com, which shares that Disneyland California, Paris, and Hong Kong would all have Marvel-themed attractions by 2020. For Disneyland California, this expansion would be happening just one year after the STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE area opens. They also released three different posters for each respective park, sharing the potential attractions and characters to be featured. Each poster carries the same tagline:

“Recruitment Begins”

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

Unique Marvel-Themed Attractions for Each Unique Park

It’s worth noting that each of the three expansions will have some differentiation, as the three separate posters imply. For instance, the California poster prominently features Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Paris poster features Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Black Widow, and the Scarlet Witch.

Finally, the Hong Kong poster features, Ant-Man, The Wasp, Hawkeye, and Captain America. We should expect that each of the parks differences will focus on those respective characters. This is also based in part by the Marvel elements already present in the parks.

What’s Already There: California

Disneyland California presently has one Marvel attraction: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MISSION BREAKOUT! Found within California Adventure, it’s also where guests can find Marvel characters to interact with and hear music from the films.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

The ride itself is actually a rebranding of a previous ride that existed before GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY gained its film popularity. Yes, the TOWER OF TERROR is no more in California. In essence, the ride mechanics are the same: Guests enter and sit in a gantry-type elevator. They then hurtle upwards and drop even faster, rising and falling for a very thrilling and fun effect.

However, the new narrative and atmosphere are what makes this ride awesome. Having personally experienced both the Twilight Zone TOWER OF TOWER and, more recently MISSION BREAKOUT, I can honestly say that the change is for the better. This was once a haunted hotel now holds Taneleer Tivan’s collection. The Guardians of the Galaxy are his newest additions, trapped within cages.

However, Rocket frees himself and seeks out the guests’ help to free his friends.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

As you wait in line, you walk through the Collection. Containing items like an Ultron robot, Asgardian weapons, Cosmo the Dog, and plenty more MCU Easter Eggs. Just before the ride begins, Rocket plugs in Star-Lord’s Walkman. Meaning you get to rock out to classic 80’s rock tracks which change with each ride.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

MISSION BREAKOUT is the park’s most popular ride, so it totally makes sense for Disneyland to capitalize on its success with more Marvel-themed attractions. There’s even a foreshadowing Easter egg outside the ride. Hidden in the bushes is a secret hatch adorned with the Avengers logo.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

What’s Already There: Paris

Paris does not have much currently in the way of Marvel-themed attractions. However, last week began their MARVEL SUMMER OF SUPERHEROES, a new production featuring several Marvel heroes in a big show. It will be a brand new show, with big visual effects and pyrotechnic elements. The show will last until the end of this September.

It’s unclear as to what Disneyland Paris will do Marvel-wise until the Marvel-themed attractions in 2020. I’m sure they’ll do something, such as a new show, or doubling down on the amount of Marvel character interactions. Anything to keep the hype and excitement up until then.

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What’s Already There: Hong Kong

In 2017, Disneyland Hong Kong opened the IRON MAN EXPERIENCE, a crazy virtual reality ride that has become one of it’s most popular attractions.

Very similar to Disneyland’s STAR TOURS ride, the IRON MAN EXPERIENCE has guests wear 3-D glasses and sit in a vehicular pod facing a monitor. They then experience the feeling that they are flying, as the pod moves with hydraulics. In essence, it’s an action paced, Iron Man-themed flight simulator.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

Its atmosphere and narrative are reportedly very cool as well. The premise is that Disneyland is featuring the Stark Expo, and guests are there to take an aerial tour of Stark Tower. As they wait in line, the facility features several Iron Man suits and other cool props/items from the films. As the ride begins, something goes wrong.

Hydra wants Stark’s Arc Reactor, so you team up with Iron Man himself to stop them, resulting in several twists, turns, and explosions. It will be very cool to see what other Marvel rides Hong Kong might have in addition to the IRON MAN EXPERIENCE.

Expectations for California’s Marvel-Themed Attractions

As previously noted, we should expect each park’s expansion to focus on the characters featured on their respective posters. For California, this means that the Marvel-themed expansions will be centered on the Guardians of the Galaxy (check that one off the list), Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther.

The poster also includes a facility with the Avengers logo, as well as the Sanctum Santorum, home of Doctor Strange. Rumors persist that one of the rides will be an indoor roller coaster, akin to SPACE MOUNTAIN or INDIANA JONES. It would be really cool to see an Avengers ride or one that solely features Spider-Man with swinging mechanics, as rumors suggest.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

As far as a Black Panther attraction goes, I would just love to see just a Wakanda-themed area of the Marvel land. Guests would get a feel first-hand for the high-tech yet traditional architecture from the film. Maybe an area for shops and food?

My biggest hope is that we get a full-size replica of the Sanctum Sanctorum to represent Doctor Strange. I would like it to be an attraction, similar to the Haunted Mansion, chock full of Easter Eggs. Guests could interact with objects with magical properties by way of special effects. There could even be a seated ride section where guest could enter the physics-defying Mirror Realm!

We do know where all of these attractions are going to be in California. MISSION BREAKOUT lies right next to A BUG’S LAND. During Disney’s announcement, it was revealed that the Marvel expansions would be built in that area and that A BUG’S LAND would remain until the end of this summer.

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Expectations For Paris’ Marvel-Themed Attractions

Again, the amount we know about Paris, what will be there, and what’s already there is little. However, the announcement claims that Disneyland Paris will have a hyper-kinetic adventure with Iron Man and the Avengers.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

This leads me to believe that while each park will have their own style and unique offerings, they very well could all have the same Avengers ride. This would make sense if there’s confidence that it will be a big and memorable enough ride. The most popular and classic rides can be found across the parks.

Expectations for Hong Kong’s Marvel-Themed Attractions

Hong Kong is reported to have an all new ride based on Ant-Man and the Wasp. It will join the already popular IRON MAN EXPERIENCE. While the poster corroborates this with Ant-Man and the Wasp being the biggest focus, the poster also includes Hawkeye and Captain America. Again, this adds to my theory that each park will have the same Avengers ride as a focal point for the new Marvel-themed attractions.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Entertainment

Hong Kong certainly has some of the more unique and exclusive rides than the other parks. No other park has the IRON MAN ride, and I’m pretty sure the ANT-MAN AND THE WASP inspired ride will be exclusive to Hong Kong as well. In any case, they will probably still have other environmental and Marvel-themed atmospheres based on some of the other MCU properties in addition.

How Does Universal Studios Factor In? Licensing

Universal Studios still holds a contract with Marvel which allows them to have their own Marvel-themed attractions before Disney ever purchased Marvel. They have a big SUPERHERO ISLAND in Orlando as one of their lands featuring the 20 years old but still hugely popular 3-D SPIDER-MAN ride.

The contract license also restricts any other parks to use the Marvel name or characters east of the Mississippi. It’s why there are not currently any Marvel expansions in the works for Disneyworld in Florida, right next to them.

Marvel-Themed Attractions
Image Courtesy of Universal/Marvel Entertainment

Furthermore, it seems as though Disneyland is unable to use the Marvel name or logo at all on any rides. This could be why there is a Marvel Logo in the corner of the Paris and Hong Kong posters, but not on the California one. As long as the rides aren’t within the U.S, it seems they’re fine.

It looks as though Disney is in negotiations with Universal to update the license to some degree, as the contract seems to pertain to specific characters. For instance, the Black Panther is only on one piece of artwork at Universal’s SUPERHERO ISLAND. It looks like Disney is trying to renegotiate to get back characters such as this, who don’t have a large presence at Universal. This would allow them to introduce certain characters at their Florida park.

Final Thoughts on Disney’s Plans for Marvel-Themed Attractions

Disney is a powerhouse and they own one of the biggest and most popular film franchises in history. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would want to capitalize further in their theme parks. I’ll say for myself that after enjoying MISSION BREAKOUT, I’m certainly excited for more Marvel rides.

I’m sure other Disneyland and Marvel fans alike are excited too. It’s still 2 years away, and you can bet the parks are going to be packed when they first open, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

Disneyland’s Marvel-themed attractions will open in the summer of 2020 in California, Paris, and Hong Kong

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