Disney acquire Marvel

1 09 2009

This week the worlds largest media company finalised a takeover for legendary comic book company Marvel, giving the Walt Disney Company a whole host of new characters and products to add to its expansive portfolio. The question is, what should Disney do in the parks with their host of famous comic book heroes?

Well, to clear things up, there is a sticking point with adding the likes of Spider-Man and friends (and foes) to Walt Disney World. As far as the United States is concerned Universal have the rights to using Marvel in their theme parks east of the Mississippi, meaning Walt Disney World won’t be getting Marvel until an agreement is made with the two Florida based rivals. Of course, this isn’t technically a bad thing. This contractual loophole allows Disney to test the water with their newly acquired characters before implementing them in their most popular resort.

Talking about testing the water, it’s always the best option when setting adding something new into a theme park. Marvel will certainly appeal to the ‘tween boy’ demographic but Disney have to ensure they don’t go into overdrive with Marvel and alienate some of their other customers, possibly those who don’t see the appeal of Marvel such as young girls and some of the older generations. A Marvel themed parade at DCA? A good idea to start with. A Marvel third gate for Disneyland Resort? it’s reckless jumping in at the deep end which Disney really don’t need.

As I said, slow and steady is the best option. My first park-based implimentation would be an afternoon parade at DCA. Whilst the expansion of the park is underway it still needs something extra to keep the crowds in later in the day and a parade based on something as popular as Marvel may be exactly that. After all, it’s much cheaper than going in at the deep end and adding an attraction and it’s more likely to keep visitors in the park longer. Visitors can ride an attraction based on Marvel in the early morning, they can’t see a parade until it’s showing. More time in the park= more money spent in then.

After Disney establishes Marvel characters in the park, using merchandise, parades/shows and even some special events Disney should then be looking towards more park-based investment into the franchise. Marvel has such a great number of well-known characters Disney are spoiled for choice, anything could be added as far as an attraction is concerned. One thing Disney do need to do is make it big. Marvel are known for being the best in the comic-book business and to keep that brand image intact with theme park fans is integral to the success of the integration of Marvel characters into the Disney Parks.  Possibly a dark ride or a roller coaster?

With the acquisition of Marvel Disney haven’t just brought in a collection of top-class heroes, they’ve also added some great villains and once the contractual problems with Universal are over and done with I’d like to see Walt Disney World’s speculated fifth gate becoming reality as a Disney (and Marvel) villains park. There was always some problems with the villain park concept. Disney had to try and make a park which was scary and thrilling enough to attract the neglected teen fans yet not too scary as to put of children, the demographic they aim most of their marketing at. The Disney villains restricted how much Disney could do.  Most Disney characters are designed not to be too scary and that would mean the parks suffers. Now Disney have a collection of real, scary and exciting villains to add to their current collection of child-friendly villains from the movies, it’s a match made in heaven for a theme park.

This also gives a potential villains park a simple yet effective layout with three areas. The first are would be a classic Disney villains area, with characters from the classic movies such as Aladdin and Peter Pan. This would act almost as the Fantasy Land of a villains park, with a number of tame yet exciting rides for all the family that are aimed at the younger visitors. The second land could be based on the Marvel villains, an area aimed more to the thrill seekers visiting the park. The area would feature a host of high-octane thrill rides and spectacular shows for an older audience than the Disney classics area. The third land would be the go between of the other two lands, a Pixar villains land. Pixar characters are popular amongst all age groups and would be the perfect theme to go between two contrasting areas in order to make sure everyone has enough to do in the park.

That’s my idea, let’s hear yours.

M. Owen

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