walt disney (DIS) – Get The Walt Disney Company Report Disney World and Disneyland Compete with Comcast (CMCSA) – Access to Comcast Corporation’s Class A Common Stock Report Universal Studios theme park, but the relationship is complicated. The two big entertainment brands compete with each other for customers, but they also do business with each other in a variety of ways.
First, in Florida, Universal Pictures owns the rights to many Disney Marvel characters. The deal predates Walt Disney’s acquisition of the comic book company. It was made at a time when Spider-Man, Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Avengers were all comic book characters rather than movie superstars.
Universal has permanent rights to these popular characters, which have become even more valuable since Disney bought Marvel and created the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disney gets paid for its intellectual property, but the theme park company might prefer the right to bring those characters to Disney World.
The deal is unlikely to change anytime soon, as the rights never expire as long as Comcast uses the characters and pays as contractually requires.
A large portion of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida is dedicated to Marvel, featuring an iconic Hulk-themed roller coaster and a top attraction built around Spider-Man.
Universal Pictures controls those popular Marvel characters in Florida, perhaps forever, but another deal between the two companies appears to be coming to an end.
Disney Owns ‘The Simpsons,’ a Major Universal Attraction
Both the original Universal Studios theme park in Florida and the one in California have a Springfield-based “land,” home to the longest-running comedy on TV, “The Simpsons.” The deal came before Disney bought the hit show, and unlike Marvel’s deal, it appears to have an expiration date.
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“We know that the agreement between Fox and Universal to use The Simpsons has an end date; we don’t know the length of those terms,” InsideUniversal.net reported.
“There are rumors that the license agreement will run for 20 years and end in 2028. Unlike the Marvel contract, however, there are no ‘perpetual’ clauses or region-based restrictions.”
The 20-year deal matches other news reports about when the rights will expire, but neither Disney nor Universal has commented on the arrangement. While 2028 is still more than five years away, there are some anecdotal signs that Universal may be ready to move on from The Simpsons.
Some of the iconic “Simpsons” screens have needed an update over the years; your ride experience will vary depending on the vehicle you’re in. Also, by 2028, the underlying technology will be nearly 40 years old, and the show’s popularity has at least declined.
Does Disney want The Simpsons?
“The Simpsons” is more edgy than most of Disney-owned IP, but the show features prominently on the Disney+ streaming service.
It’s hard to compare Bart, Homer, Maggie, Maggie, Lisa and their supporting cast at Disney World with the company’s classic characters, but at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disney’s California Adventure in California, the Long-term gigs make sense.
While “The Simpsons” may not be as popular as it once was, these characters are very important to parents now in their 30s and 40s. Disney has always been built around nostalgia: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and friends aren’t as relevant to today’s kids as the cast of Frozen, but they’re still a big part of Disney’s theme parks.
In a few years, The Simpsons may make more sense at Disney theme parks than at Universal Studios, although the two companies could still extend the deal. If Disney doesn’t want to invest in “The Simpsons” attractions, it could sign a short-term deal with Universal to keep the existing land and rides.
Those decisions likely won’t be made in the years after Universal Studios opens the “Third Door” of its upcoming epic universe in Florida.
The status of The Simpsons will likely depend on whether Disney wants to reclaim the copyrights as it intends to use them at one or more of its U.S. parks.