The juggernaut that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been in modern culture defies adequate description. Since Disney owns the Marvel brand, what attractions and characters of Marvel can be found at Walt Disney World Resort?
We love seeing the Marvel logo around for some of us who frequent the Orlando area theme parks. For example, some Orlando area food bloggers always wear Marvel clothing since that brand can be found in numerous theme parks in the Orlando area.
Many Orlando area theme park fans often wear their Marvel clothing to theme parks. Some of them must own over 15 Black Panther shirts based on the variety of them they wear to the Orlando theme parks. Of course, Walt Disney World sells plenty of Marvel merchandise, but more about that later.
Even though Marvel movies are not doing as well as in the past, the Marvel Studios continues to create some of the top-grossing films each year,
With the Marvel brand’s popularity worldwide, many guests expect to see Marvel all over Walt Disney World Resort. Walt Disney World does use the Marvel brand within its theme parks. Still, far fewer Marvel attractions and character interactions occur at Walt Disney World than one would expect.
Will Disney World Add More Marvel?
In April 2023, the CEO of Disney Company, Bob Iger, commented about Marvel in the Disney theme parks. He said he would love to do more with Marvel at the theme parks at a shareholder meeting. Nonetheless, Iger did not go into specifics about this. In fact, he said he would love to add more Marvel in the Disney theme parks but said he would “leave it at that.”
Unfortunately, adding more Marvel to Walt Disney World presents significant challenges. These challenges block various ways to expand Marvel at Walt Disney World despite the Disney Company purchasing the Marvel Company. Still, with some creativity, Disney has introduced some Marvel aspects to Walt Disney World.
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Marvel at Disney World – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
When we enter some of the four Walt Disney World theme parks, we often hear families discussing where all the Marvel attractions are located. However, the only Marvel attraction at Walt Disney World resides in Epcot. One of Walt Disney World’s newest attractions, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, features the popular Guardians Marvel characters.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind serves as the first roller coaster at the Epcot theme park. Guests can find this sizeable indoor roller coaster in the World Discovery area of Epcot. Experienced Walt Disney World visitors might know this area by its former name, Future World.
With many construction walls up at Epcot currently, the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster takes some time to find. As you enter the theme park from the main entrance, this attraction will be on the left side of the park with Mission: Space and Test Track. However, with the giant Nova Corps spaceship perched outside the attraction, you will know when you are near.
This Marvel attraction opened in May 2022. It remains popular with Epcot guests. Due to the expected and continued popularity of the Cosmic Rewind coaster, a virtual queue boarding system is used for guests wishing to ride this attraction. We have a guide for acquiring a spot in this virtual queue.
Another way to ride this popular attraction involves purchasing an individual lightning lane. This option would allow you to select a more specific time to ride the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster. Of course, this comes with an additional cost. There is no daily cost of Genie+ necessary to purchase an individual lighting lane, this is a separate purchase.
For Walt Disney World, the Cosmic Rewind attraction functions as the first “omni-coaster” style attraction at its theme parks. The coaster involves a ride vehicle that turns guests towards the desired images while they ride.
This coaster also utilizes a reverse launch that happens when you help the guardians save the galaxy. When riding this attraction, be warned that a backward launch occurs later in the ride, not at the very beginning.
As a Marvel-themed coaster, several of your favorite Guardians of the Galaxy characters play prominent roles in this attraction. However, only some Guardians of the Galaxy appear in this attraction. In fact, some are contractually not allowed at Walt Disney World. Nevertheless, we will explain that later in this article.
We love this indoor roller coaster. This ride provides a very smooth experience. Guests adverse to bumpy roller coasters will have no issue with this one.
Nonetheless, some guests have motion sickness issues with this Marvel coaster at Disney World. Most of those issues relate to looking around too much during the ride. However, we understand that guests should look in the direction the ride vehicle points. This pattern of activity limits potential motion sickness issues drastically.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind delights fans of this franchise with interesting queue elements. Also, the attraction’s storyline and the usual one-liners from the Marvel movie cast enhance this coaster experience.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Songs
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind comes with a unique soundtrack like the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. In fact, the ride offers six different songs to be heard during this attraction. Each ride can feel a little different depending on which song you get. The songs are:
- “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
- “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps
- “Conga” by Gloria Estefan
- “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
- “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls
- “One Way or Another” by Blondie.
This unique song aspect captures the amusing tone of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” However, some social media posts started a rumor that the songs connect to the symbols on each ride vehicle. Cast members, the name for Disney employees, have debunked that myth. So, when you ride, enjoy the surprise of which of the six songs you receive.
During the winter holiday season in 2022, the Cosmic Rewind coaster switched to a holiday version song only. During that time, guests all listened to the same song. At the time of writing, we are still waiting to hear from Walt Disney World about the plans for songs for the winter holiday in 2023 but so far it looks unlikely.
Peter Quill Loves Epcot
Part of the theming of this attraction revolves around the “intergalactic” showcase pavilion idea. Epcot offers many areas or pavilions for guests to explore. For the purposes of this coaster, the building this coaster runs within can be considered the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. The Marvel planet of Xandar plays prominently in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.
According to the backstory of this attraction, Peter Quill (Star-Lord) visited Epcot as a child. Based on the plot of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, Peter Quill was abducted from Earth, so he has not returned to Earth in the multi-verse Marvel timeline involved in this attraction. Still, the Xandarian people learned of Earth from Peter Quill. In that partnership, the Xandarians shared some of their technologies with the Imagineers of Epcot.
Guests see some of this technology early in the queue for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction in the Galaxarium section. The Galaxarium functions as a type of planetarium. Guests can learn about the interaction of Terra, the Xandarian’s word for Earth, and Xandar.
From the Galaxarium, guests follow the queue through the Xandar Gallery. Here guests learn more about the people, culture, and history of Xandar.
After this, guests continue their tour of the pavilion. They enter some staging areas to eventually move into the “Phase Chamber.” From here, guests enjoy being transported from Epcot to a Nova Corps Starcharter Cruiser flying above the Earth.
The pre-show portions of this Marvel Disney World coaster involve video appearances by Glenn Close (who played Nova Prime in the Marvel movies) and Terry Crews. However, soon after you encounter those actors, things go terribly wrong. As a result, you and some of the Marvel Guardians need to save the day. Well, you must save the galaxy…again!
I love this roller coaster. However, I am a huge Marvel comic book fan. This function as my second favorite attraction at Walt Disney World currently, behind The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. The irony of that should be noticed by those familiar with Disneyland Resort. Still, we will briefly explain that later in this Marvel-ous resource. Also, I promise no more puns about Marvel unless absolutely needed.
Marvel at Disney World: Merchandise
As you might imagine, Walt Disney World guests find plenty of opportunities to purchase Marvel products at Walt Disney World. Though the Marvel attractions appear limited at Walt Disney World, the Disney Marvel branded merchandise is not limited. If you can conceive of it with a Marvel character on it, you can find it at Walt Disney World.
Though no “official” Marvel stores exist with the four Walt Disney World theme parks, plenty of Marvel products can be purchased. Certain stores within each of the four Walt Disney World theme parks carry Marvel merchandise.
As you might expect, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has a nearby gift shop. The Wonders of Xandar contains many Guardians of the Galaxy items. During our most recent trip, we also saw many Marvel Loki merchandise items in this shop. We suspect this relates to the Loki Disney+ series.
Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a heavier concentration of Black Panther and Wakanda Marvel merchandise can be found. At Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Marvel merchandise consists mainly of the key Marvel Avengers characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In contrast, Disney Springs, the main shopping complex at Walt Disney World, has an official Marvel store. Since Disney Springs resides outside the Disney theme parks, the branding of Marvel is more overt than inside the Walt Disney World theme parks.
In fact, Disney Springs has two other locations selling a large quantity of Marvel merchandise. The large World of Disney store has a section near an entrance dedicated to Marvel products. In the Marketplace area of Disney Springs, the Marketplace Co-Op redesigned a section to contain only Marvel merchandise. That store even has a replica of the Iron Man suit.
Marvel at Disney World: That Pesky Marvel Theme Park Contract
So, why does Walt Disney World lack more Marvel elements? Bob Iger stated he wanted more Marvel in the Disney theme parks, right? Disney owns Marvel, so this should be an easy slam dunk, right?
Disneyland Resort features an entire Avengers Campus. That campus involves a former The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction converted to a Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! attraction.
Disneyland Resort’s Avengers Campus showcases an array of Marvel characters. In contrast, Walt Disney World currently offers no Marvel character interactions for its guests to enjoy. In the past, there were some limited meet-and-greet opportunities with the Guardians. A few very limited-time character meet & greets involved other Marvel characters. Still, those will most likely not return anytime soon – unless something changes with the pesky Marvel theme park contract.
There is a long explanation and a shorter, more simplified explanation about that pesky Marvel contract. We will use a more succinct description. Some of us have read the entire Marvel theme park contract that involves Universal Orlando Resort.
Marvel Contract with Universal Orlando Resort
Hey, I thought this was about Walt Disney World. Stay with me! This all connects. A long time ago, in an era that seems impossible to us today, the Marvel Company looked to be going under financially. Yes, the powerful money-making machine of Marvel lost more money than you can imagine. Marvel could not generate revenue with movies or television. The comic book revenue was also decreasing.
Marvel looked to sell off the usage rights for many of its properties to recover. Due to this, we have an era of Sony making Spider-Man and Fantastic Four movies. In contrast, Fox bought the rights to the X-Men for movies. Marvel lost control of much of its intellectual properties.
During this same time, the former parent company for what is now Universal Orlando Resort bought the theme park rights for all Marvel properties. As with all contracts, each side must fulfill its part of the agreement.
However, what makes this pesky contract a thorn in Walt Disney World’s side is the length of the contract. If Universal Orlando Resort follows the agreement and pays the rights fees, that resort can use Marvel intellectual properties until the end of time. This Marvel contract has no end date.
Remember, Marvel was desperate. In fact, Marvel only got to sell the theme park rights since negotiations between Universal and Warner Bros./DC Comics fell apart in preparation for building Universal Islands of Adventure. In other words, Universal Orlando Resort has a sweetheart deal regarding Marvel intellectual properties. They also have no reason to sell Marvel theme park rights to Disney.
Did Disney Buy Marvel?
The Disney Company owns Marvel now. In fact, Disney paid about four billion dollars to buy Marvel. However, contracts are contracts!
Trying to avoid a lengthy (and boring) breakdown of the Marvel theme park intellectual property agreement, Universal Orlando still has controlling rights to use a vast majority of Marvel characters in its Florida parks.
So what does this mean for expanding Marvel properties at Walt Disney World Resort? Walt Disney World cannot use the word “Marvel” to refer to an attraction or character inside the Walt Disney World theme parks. Yet, they can use the term “Marvel” for shopping locations like Disney Springs.
Based on the previously signed contract from before Disney bought Marvel, Walt Disney World cannot use any Marvel characters used by Universal Orlando Resort. For example, some of the Marvel Intellectual properties listed in the contract are The Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. The agreement specifically stated that no one else could use any aspect of those superhero families or groups except Universal.
Is Avengers Campus Coming to Disney World?
How come Disneyland Resort and international Disney theme parks can use all Marvel properties, and Walt Disney World cannot? For clarification, Disney cannot use Spider-Man in its Asian theme parks currently. However, that will change when the Spider-Man attraction closes at Universal Studios Japan. We mention this since it serves as an excellent example of the reason only Walt Disney World deals with the pesky Marvel contract.
Initially, when MCA, the former parent company of Universal, purchased Marvel theme park rights, it covered the entire world. However, a clause in the contract stipulated that Universal had to build and maintain Marvel attractions within specific timeframes. This failed to happen except for the Spider-Man ride in Japan and Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando.
Marvel Super Hero Island continues to operate in Orlando. However, Universal never opened any Marvel properties at Universal Studios Hollywood within a reasonable time frame. As a result, Universal lost the rights to use the Marvel properties in that area. This explains why Avengers Campus exists at Disneyland Resort.
As long as Universal Orlando operates Marvel Super Hero Island in Orlando and pays the yearly paltry rights fees (ironically to Disney as the current owner of Marvel), Walt Disney World cannot use most of the Marvel character lineup. Technically, based on current circumstances, the contract stipulates that Disney cannot open a Marvel theme park attraction with characters forbidden in the theme park rights contract east of the Mississippi River in the United States.
All that means that characters like Spider-Man can be used by Disney west of the Mississippi River but not east of that river. This explains why a Spider-Man attraction exists at both Universal Islands of Adventure in Florida AND the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure in California.
What About the Guardians of the Galaxy?
You may be thinking – BUT the Guardians were part of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; how can they be at Walt Disney World? The contract was written before the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the comics, most of the Guardians you know from the movies were NOT officially part of The Avengers team.
Also, Universal Orlando Resort does not use the Guardians of the Galaxy at Marvel Super Hero Island. In addition, the Guardians of the Galaxy was not a superhero family or group listed in the original Marvel theme park intellectual property contract signed way before Disney bought Marvel. So, since Universal did not use them, Walt Disney World can.
However, keen observers of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction will notice that some members of the Guardians team do not appear in the attraction. They do not appear at Walt Disney World since at least one cannot legally.
Mantis being absent from the Cosmic Rewind coaster is easy to explain. Mantis functioned as a part of The Avengers in the comics before Universal Islands of Adventure was built. According to Marvel theme park rights contract stipulations with Universal Orlando, no comic book characters who were members of The Avengers family or group may appear at any theme park east of the Mississippi River. Mantis can appear in California but not in Florida. This would be different if Universal had opened a Marvel attraction or two in Hollywood, but they did not.
Remember, the Marvel theme park contract relates to comics, not current Marvel movies. Being an Avenger in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not disqualify you from appearing at Walt Disney World.
Nebula is also not in the Cosmic Rewind attraction. Though this is a grey area, Nebula entered the Marvel comic book scene as a villain of The Avengers. Technically, she would be considered a part of that Marvel superhero family or group. Based on a brief time that Walt Disney World used characters that might be regarded as Avengers (like Dr. Strange) and had to appease Universal later, they probably chose to avoid using Nebula also.
Awkward Custody Battle of Marvel at Walt Disney World
Some have compared this arrangement to an awkward custody battle over the Marvel children. For example, at Universal Islands of Adventure, changes can only be made to the Marvel attractions, theming, characters, or anything else Marvel with approval from Marvel. This means Universal pays Disney for the rights to use the Marvel characters and must ask permission to change things.
However, the Marvel theme park contract also says that Universal must upkeep the Marvel components of its theme park or lose the rights to use Marvel. Yet, the agreement also states that Marvel (now Disney owned) cannot keep Universal from upgrading something Marvel and then claim breach of contract.
Since Disney bought Marvel, this stalemate of sorts has caused Marvel Super Hero Island to look old school. Nothing in Marvel Super Hero Island resembles the modern-day Marvel Cinematic Universe, except for the Marvel merchandise. For example, the Marvel walk-around characters at Universal Orlando Resort look like their old-school comic-book images. This can throw off some guests expecting a Marvel Cinematic Universe look.
Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Orlando Resort
This awkward Marvel relationship lasts as long as Universal Orlando Resort continues utilizing the Marvel characters and their associated attractions. This means that if you want to enjoy a full Marvel-themed land while on vacation in Orlando, you will need to visit Universal Islands of Adventure.
Marvel Super Hero Island contains four rides, several merchandise locations, two quick service dining options, Marvel character meet and greets, and several snack stands. The entire land builds on the idea of stepping into a 1990s-style Marvel comic book.
Universal Islands of Adventure Rides
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster – this roller coaster starts with an upward launch and several inversions. Thrills seekers will enjoy this coaster. For guests used to Disney coasters, this offers far more thrills, so be careful since you would not like the Hilk when he is angry.
- Storm Force Accelatron– this spinning flat ride takes the “Tea Cup” style attraction and amplifies it. The backstory involves guests helping Storm defeat Magneto.
- Doom Fearfall – this tower attraction propels guests up in the air quickly so that Dr. Doom can extract guests’ fear to help eventually defeat The Fantastic Four.
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – this dark ride changed the game regarding theme park attractions when Universal Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. This award-winning attraction still holds up today. On this attraction, guests “help” Spider-Man save the day. In this 3-D attraction, guests will experience screens, practical sets, and fire and water elements.
Avengers Campus at Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland Resort
If you wish to visit California, Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort allows guests to interact with the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of the characters. The most unique part of this theme park land relates to the Marvel characters. The Avengers Campus area constantly changes, in terms of Marvel characters, based on the latest release of Marvel Studios movies or Disney+ series.
Avengers Campus extends guests the chance to purchase Marvel merchandise of all sorts. The theme park land currently provides guests with two rides, with a third major attraction coming. Avengers Campus in California offers several Marvel-themed dining options, such as The Pym Test Kitchen, Terran Treats, and Shawarma Palace. Yes, Avenger fans can enjoy some shawarma just like the Marvel superheroes did after saving New York.
Avengers Campus contains several shows. Guests can watch the stunt show on the Avengers Headquarters building. The Warriors of Wakanda: The Disciplines of Dora Milaje show allows guests to see these talented Wakanda warriors in action. In addition, Dr. Strange: Mysteries of the Mystic Arts show enables guests to see the master sorcerer in action.
Of course, we must remember the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! This allows guests to meet the Guardians up close. Of course, a huge strength of the Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort compared to Marvel Super Hero Island involves Marvel character interaction. Avenger Campus features many Marvel characters straight from the movies.
The two current rides at Avengers Campus are WEB SLINGER: A Spider-Man Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! The Spider-Man attraction opened with Avengers Campus. That attraction takes guests on a journey showing their skills in dealing with some out-of-hand Spider-Bots.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! offers different thrills than the Walt Disney World Guardians attraction. Mission: BREAKOUT! takes guests along with Rocket on a mission to break out the other Guardians. This retheming of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction utilizes the dialogue and music you would expect from a Guardians of the Galaxy ride.
Marvel at Disney World FAQ
The expansion of the Marvel brand at Disney theme parks looks likely. However, that expansion will be more difficult in Florida. Still, Marvel fans can visit Universal Orlando Resort or Disneyland Resort for a more extensive Marvel experience.
Yes, there is some Marvel at Walt Disney World. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride in EPCOT features Marvel characters from that movie.
Is there a Marvel theme park in Florida?
The Marvel theme park in Florida is Universal Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. There, guests find a land known as Marvel Super Hero Island.
What part of Disney World has the Avengers?
No part of Disney World has the Avengers. The Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster exists at Epcot at Walt Disney World. However, Avengers Campus is located inside Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort in California, not Florida, where Disney World resides.
What Avengers can you meet at Disney?
You can meet almost all the Avengers at Disneyland Resort in California.
Is there Marvel stuff at Disney World Florida?
Yes, there is Marvel stuff at Disney World Florida. Guests can find Marvel shopping and enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the roller coaster themed to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
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