Theme Park Bits: Update On Marvel's Future In Disneyland And A New Ride That Allows You To Battle Your Favorite Animated Villain

One of the juiciest rumors currently making the rounds is that Disney is thinking of turning Tomorrowland in their theme parks into the Stark Expo. If you seen Iron Man 2, you'll remember that the Stark Expo is a kind of Disneyland environment based on the latest technological innovations and that's what Tomorrowland strives for at Disney's parks. Add that to the fact that Disney now owns Marvel and it sounds like a match made in Heaven. The latest update is that this rumor does have some basis in fact but there are some major logistical hurdles, namely a lack of time. The ideal time to launch a Marvel themed section of the Disney theme parks would be next summer with The Avengers and that doesn't seem possible.

After the jump, read more about that and another new ride where fans can battle their favorite villains.

Starting with the last bit first, Seattle Weekly (via MiceChat) was talking to Jonathan Freeman, the voice of Jafar from Disney's Aladdin and wrote the following in their profile:

In fact, during a phone interview between Seattle rehearsals for the much-anticipated new Aladdin stage adaptation, Freeman accidentally lets something slip about an unannounced battle-your-favorite-baddies Disney park attraction in which the venal Vizier would appear. But he quickly catches himself and summarizes his situation another way.

What exactly could that mean and where would it be? To guess would be pure speculation but it sounds pretty cool.

On to the Marvel news, once the rumor leaked a few weeks ago, Zack Parks at Comic Book Movie emailed in the question to the Disney themed podcast The Magical Definition and got his email read on the show. It's a lengthy answer from Disney insider Jim Hill but here are a few highlights:

There is a skein of truth to this... Disney is looking to find ways to bring the Marvel characters at the Disneyland resort. Problem is they don't entirely fit Tomorrowland which is sort of where the Tony Stark name came up, the Expo thing. Here's the thing: what was initially being looked at was something that would tie to next summer and Joss Whedon's Avengers movie with the notion that it would be a catch-all movie prop kind of exhibit. Let's be honest here, the thing of Innoventions in its current state is that it's a trade show and kind of a carryover from the [former Disney CEO Michael] Eisner era and [current Disney CEO Bob] Iger would like to do something different there and given that they spent this $4 billion on the Marvel characters, they'd like to get them in the park.

The problem is that it doesn't entirely fit the Tomorrowland theme, strictly the name Tony Stark Expo. They don't want to tie this to just one Marvel character; they want to do multiple Marvel characters. That's the whole point of the Avengers movie. There are more hard practical issues to deal with here: for example the whole spinning building thing. Innoventions has capacity concerns, it's a slow loader. Again, it's the whole notion of you're gonna have to spend money to re-theme the exterior of the building, to sell the Marvel idea. It's kind of problematic. The concern right now is that could they fast track it in time for the movie release next year? There's a bunch of people at Imagineering to the effect of, 'Look, if we started a year ago, we could make it.' You're only gonna have one chance to introduce the Marvel characters into the Disney parks and there's a lot of people who are like, 'We should do it right!' And just rushing something in as a replacement for Innoventions because everyone agrees it's kind of tired and that sort of thing.

That's in relation to Disneyland in California. But what about Walt Disney World in Florida? Well they have that problem and more – mainly the fact that Marvel characters are already all over Universal's nearby Islands of Adventure. Again, there's a longer answer over at Comic Book Movie, but here's a piece:

The interesting thing there is that there is supposedly a negotiation – very quietly through backchannels – that's going on with Universal. I'm not hearing that they've made much headway but that there is already a pre-established relationship with Universal actually on the back of the Oswald [The Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney's original creation before Mickey Mouse] deal that Disney and Universal were able to come to terms and make a swap to get the rights of that character. I will say this much, given Universal is spending as much money as they are on ["The Amazing Adventures of"] Spider-Man redo, that to me doesn't say that this is going change out anytime soon. I know they'd like to happen on Disney's side of the fence.

To bring this full circle, I can confirm that they are in fact, looking at a Marvel thing for the parks. I can confirm that this [Stark Expo rumor] was deliberately leaked as a trial balloon and see if the fans would get excited to help the project along but beyond that it's one of three spots that they're looking for Marvel. It just depends now whether or not they decide that they really have to go fast and have something open day-and-date with Avengers next year or pick to choose a more graduated approach very slowly and carefully so we'll have to see what happens.

To read more about the logistical problems and back hand dealing according to the guys who do the Magical Definition podcast, head over to their site or Comic Book Movie.