Disney California Adventure Park Begins Work on Marvel Expansion

Work is underway on Disney California Adventure Park’s Marvel-themed expansion at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, replacing the just-shuttered A Bug’s Land.

That section of land, previously themed to Disney-Pixar’s 20-year-old A Bug’s Life, closed September 4 to make way for the Marvel-inspired area neighboring the popular Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction, the first Marvel-themed Disney ride to reach the west coast since the company purchased Marvel in 2009.

The new Marvel-themed area at Disney California Adventure is officially under construction now! from r/marvelstudios

The area is now cordoned off by a Stark Industries gate, inspired by the armored Avenger played by Robert Downey Jr. in Marvel Studios’ shared Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Disney officially announced the project earlier this year. Opening in 2020, the land will bring Spider-Man and the Avengers to Disneyland’s sister park, which already featured character encounters starring the web-slinging superhero, members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, Thor, Loki, and Black Panther and his Dora Milaje.

Walt Disney Imagineering has yet to reveal which form the Spider-Man and Avengers-inspired attractions will take. Disney has also yet to reveal an official name for its Marvel project, referring to it only as a “Super Hero-themed land” because of a pre-existing deal with rival Universal Studios that prevents Disney from using the word “Marvel” in its name.

Due to a 1994 deal made with MCA Inc., now NBCUniversal, Disney has to forgo including “Marvel” in its title, prohibiting the company from dubbing its Marvel Cinematic Universe-inspired area “Marvel Land” or any such comparable title.

Because Universal has its own Marvel-based theme park in Florida — erected long before Disney came to own Marvel Entertainment and its expansive library of characters — Disney is unable to use certain characters east of the Mississippi River in addition to being unable to use the word “Marvel” in the title of any theme park land.

The original 1994 deal between Marvel and then-MCA gave Universal the rights to use popular Marvel characters, like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and the Hulk, in Universal Studios theme parks across the globe — but only if Universal exercised those rights. Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida opened a Marvel attraction in 1998, but Universal’s failure to bring a Marvel attraction east of the Mississippi River meant other theme parks west of the Mississippi could obtain the rights to Marvel characters.

Such legal entanglements prevent the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida from using characters like Spider-Man, who already has a presence — and a hit ride — at Universal’s theme park.

Spidey is fair game for the west coast, as are the Guardians of the Galaxy, who were not yet a viable franchise before the 2014 Marvel Studios movie of the same name. Because the Guardians weren’t adapted in Universal’s east coast park, Disney was free to develop a now-in-the-works roller coaster based around that franchise to debut at the Walt Disney World Resort as part of its 50th anniversary celebration in 2021.

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Other Marvel projects, featuring Iron Man and superhero duo Ant-Man and the Wasp, are being developed at Disney’s international parks, to debut at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

The United States’ Marvel-inspired area debuts at the Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure Park in 2020.