How to meet characters from Marvel in Orlando
By Helen Wright
My kids love Spidey, your kids love Spidey. So, why isn’t there an Avengers Campus at Disney World in Florida? This history behind Marvel in Orlando is all down to the complicated business of Intellectual Property rights, but the super news is – you CAN meet Marvel Characters in Orlando and they have their own Super Hero Island!
(Cover image: Helen Wright shot by attractiontickets.com. This page contains affiliate links)
Game Changing Move for Marvel in Orlando
POW! Here’s the quick backstory. In 2009, Disney purchased the rights to Marvel. However, prior to the ground-breaking deal (which has led to a Disney/Marvel world domination) the comic book giant agreed a contract with Universal Orlando Parks. Ten years prior to the DISMAR merger, Universal Orlando opened its second theme park, Universal Islands of Adventure in 1999 with a flagship Marvel-led area. The lucrative deal gave Orlando’s other major theme park brand the rights to have Marvel Characters in Florida, preventing other brands from using the name or character identities east of the Mississippi River in the USA. If you’re not up on American geography, the river acts as a sort-of equator, running through the middle of north America from Minnesota in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south.
You may know there is an Avengers Campus at Disneyland California as well as the recently opened Disneyland Paris offering. However, the contract terms mean that in Florida, Marvel Characters that are being used by Universal, like Spider-Man, Hulk and Captain America, cannot be used by The Walt Disney Company, effectively preventing them from opening an Avengers Campus at Walt Disney World. However, comic fans unite! There are plenty of opportunities to enter the immersive world of Marvel in Orlando and here is how you do it:
Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando is an epic three-park resort, most famous for being home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But before Hogwarts magically appeared, the biggest land at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park was Marvel Super Hero Island. This colourful, kitsch Marvel land remains a firm favourite with guests and celebrates the origins of the Marvel world with an eye-catching, comic book-inspired city.
Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Orlando Resort is also home to a bunch of Marvel-themed rides, including The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man (one of my favs), Dr Doom’s Freefall and Storm Force Acceleration. I actually love this area of the park; the theming is so fantastic. For comic book fans who love a bit of Marvel merchandise, there are also three excellent Marvel shops at Universal, selling exclusive Marvel products, collectables, costumes and souvenirs.
See what tickets are available for Universal Orlando Resort from the UK.
Where can you meet Spider-man in Orlando, Florida?
You can also meet Spider-man in Orlando at regular intervals throughout the day at a designated (and air-conditioned) spidey location. Find Spider-man – or should I say, ‘your friendly neighbourhood spider-man’ – to the side of the Marvel Alternaverse Store in Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This meet and greet location also offers a green screen photo opportunity for fun, interactive pictures and the queues aren’t too horrific! Get practicing that Spidey pose!
DID YOU KNOW? The best budget hotel in Orlando is at Universal Orlando Resort?
But, hang on, Walt Disney World has a Marvel Themed Ride!
BOOM! That is correct. In spring 2022, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened at EPCOT and became the first Marvel-themed attraction at Walt Disney World. Disney’s hot shot lawyers were clearly able to get around the Marvel contract by creating a ride themed on these galactic superheroes that form neither part of The Avengers or the Fantastic Four (of which Universal has the rights). This ride fell into a little contact loophole, despite the fact the Guardians have appeared in a recent Avengers movie… We’re just glad we didn’t have to negotiate that deal and can just come along for the ride.
The new rollercoaster has a huge Starship outside and a designated Guardians of the Galaxy Merchandise location, Treasures of Xandar, next door. Here you can buy some very cool Guardians-themed merchandise, but due to the contract with Universal, Disney cannot use the ‘Marvel’ branding on products. KABOOM! What a complex world the MCU is…
Get 14 days for the price of 7 at Walt Disney World.
Anyway, the good news is, visitors CAN see Marvel in Orlando and meet their heroes. What can be more super than that?
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