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Disney is bringing ‘immersive’ Marvel lands to its theme parks

Disney is bringing ‘immersive’ Marvel lands to its theme parks


Not all immersive experiences are created equal

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Disney’s theme parks are about to get a lot more Marvel superheroes. After the successful launch of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! ride last year, the company has announced that it will be bringing more Marvel properties to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, along with expanded experiences at both Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

According to Marvel, a new “completely immersive Super Hero universe” will be coming to the Disney’s California Adventure park, taking over the space currently occupied by a land inspired by Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. (The “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” attraction closed earlier this week, with the rest of the land to shutter in the summer.) There’s not too much information about what will actually be coming to the park yet, other than the fact that Spider-Man and the Avengers characters will be involved — something that Disney has been hinting at with in-park easter eggs since the Mission Breakout! ride opened. However, even if the addition is just a themed area that guests will be able to walk around in, it could still serve as an anchor point, paving the way for more Marvel characters to show up in the future.

The updates to the other parks seem a little more substantial, with an Iron Man and The Avengers ride coming to a new Marvel-themed area in Disneyland Paris in 2020, and an Ant-Man and The Wasp attraction headed to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disney is calling the California Adventure expansion an “immersive” experience, but it’s important to note that from the preliminary information it doesn’t seem like this will be an all-encompassing fictional land that guests will be able to visit. Instead, it sounds like it’s going to just be a themed section of the park. While it will no doubt be fun for guests to see their favorite Avengers walking around, it wouldn’t match the more ambitious creations Disney has been working on as of late, like the recently-opened Pandora: The World of Avatar, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, or the completely immersive, Westworld-esque Star Wars hotel it has in the works.

Part of that could simply be due to practical considerations. Most Marvel movies don’t take place in some fantastic world the way that Star Wars or Avatar do; in The Avengers, New York is still New York, just with superheroes in it. That said, as my colleague Bryan Bishop pointed out in his review, the world of Wakanda from Black Panther would be ripe for a truly immersive world, should Disney decide to do so (and the massive success of Black Panther should indicate that there’s definitely an audience for it.)

But all of this ties back into the fact that all of Disney’s properties aren’t just expected to be movies or TV shows anymore. To Disney, everything is a brand, and those brands must be exploited for maximum profit and exposure at all times. And while it may be a little fatiguing to face this constant onslaught of intellectual property at every turn, Disney’s continued success suggests that we’ll probably see a lot more of it in the future. Or, in other words — don’t expect this wave of Marvel expansions to be the last one to hit Disney’s parks.