Meeting your heroes is a right of passage on a Florida theme park holiday
. And out of all the fantasy lands in Orlando, Walt Disney World
assembles a team of icons like no other. From Star Wars to Avatar to Toy Story to Looney Tunes - not to mention all of the classic Disney fairytales - you can find an abundance of themed attractions, shows and character encounters.
Nevertheless, superhero fans may still wonder, does Walt Disney World have Marvel?
Even though Disney bought the entertainment company in 2009, there is a whole range of legal rules and regulations surrounding the presence of Marvel at Disney World. Yet in recent years, fans have been treated to the acclaimed rollercoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which may hint at steps towards including even more Marvel attractions in the parks. So, while Orlando doesn’t quite have the Avengers Campus of Disney in California and Paris, there’s still plenty to discover for lovers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
Are There Any Marvel Rides At Disney World?
The short answer to this is ‘not really’ - unfortunately there currently is only one Marvel ride, featuring previously obscure characters at Walt Disney World in Florida. However, there is a very good reason for this and it’s not for want of trying. Although Disney bought Marvel for a hefty sum back in 2009, legal agreements mean that so long as Universal Studios pay them an annual fee and keep their popular Super Hero Island open, Disney isn't allowed to feature it in their own parks.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only legal obstacle facing Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. The same contract states that any characters used by Universal in the Marvel universe, such as Spider-Man or Captain America, can’t be used by Disney anywhere east of the Mississippi River. In other words, almost all of Walt Disney World. It’s for this reason that you can spot Marvel characters west of the river, such as the Spider-Man ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure
, and as far west as Disney in California
Will Disney World Ever Have Marvel Attractions?
Walt Disney World are increasingly looking for workaround arrangements that will allow them to maximise their Marvel brand, but finding the right answers isn't so simple. CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, has said many times that he wants to feature more Marvel at Disney World, but there are currently only a few available avenues. You’ll notice that there’s a tonne of Marvel merchandise (more on this later!) in shops around Disney World, such as at Disney Springs
. This is because Marvel is only prohibited in theme parks, and Disney Springs is a shopping complex. Similarly, their newest Marvel ride - which we’ll dive into next - dances around this rule because the Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t technically Avengers, despite appearing in many of the movies. Only time will tell if Disney can find yet more ways to celebrate Marvel in the parks.
All About Disney World’s New Marvel Ride
Disney has finally managed to launch a Marvel-esque ride at EPCOT
, called Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The ride officially opened in May 2022 and features all of the Guardian’s most-loved characters. This epic indoor rollercoaster has quickly gained popularity over the past year and is now considered one of the best rides in Disney World - a result which will hopefully encourage more Marvel attractions in years to come.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind's storyline you through time and space, as you learn about the fictional planet of Xandar before jumping into a 360° rotating cart that speeds through the universe. This relatively new 'Omnicoaster' experience is a standout feature. The one-of-a-kind cart moves automatically in all directions so you never miss any of the action. On top of this, the Guardian's ride is one of the largest fully-enclosed rollercoasters in the world and has a classically epic film soundtrack. So it's no wonder this ride is already loved by many, and if you're worried about how age-suitable it is, we're pleased to say Disney has classified the ride as fully family-friendly.
Can You Buy Marvel Souvenirs At Disney World?
As mentioned, Disney has managed to hang onto Marvel merchandise in many of its shops in the parks, such as at Disney Springs
. That means if you're looking for memorabilia, the best place to go is the Marvel Super Hero Headquarters in the west of Disney Springs. You can buy almost endless Marvel goodies here from t-shirts and phone cases to pins, figurines, masks and more. You can also create your very own superhero gauntlet, and Disney also has similar concepts for Star Wars lightsabers and droids. Disney Spring's The World of Disney Store is also a great bet for Marvel items, as they have a large section just for Avengers and Marvel gifts. If you want some merchandise but you're not set on the Super Hero Headquarters, then you can also normally find lots of souvenirs, action figures, toys and more at the shops in Disney's Hollywood Studios
, and Magic Kingdom
Alternatives For Seeing Marvel Attractions in Florida
If you're heading to Disney World as a Marvel fan or with a little Captain America in tow, don't worry just yet. If you're staying in Orlando, you can head to Universal Orlando Resort's Marvel Super Hero Island for something almost as good. The Marvel heroes at Superhero Island are a little different than those on the big screen, as their stories and costumes are based on Marvel's comics rather than the films. However, you can still see Captain America, Spiderman and Wolverine or villains like the Green Goblin here. It's a little retro, and definitely different to the cinematic universe, but any true Marvel fan will enjoy a visit here, with plenty of attractions and rollercoasters to try out, plus there's a Marvel Character dinner.
Overall, even though there aren't a tonne of Marvel rides at Disney World, there's still plenty for fans of the universe to get excited about. From browsing endless themed merchandise to being immersed in Marvel Comics at Super Hero Island to braving Disney's first backwards-launched roller coaster - your only foe is father time in the battle to experience it all.
If you're looking for an epic adventure, book a marvellous Walt Disney World Holidays 2024 & 2025 trip today.