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Theme Park News: What does Marvel's Phase 4 mean for Disneyland and Disney World?

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Jul 25, 2019, 1:45 PM EDT

It's a small world, as the famous Disneyland ride proclaims, but there are plenty of big news stories in the theme park world, especially with summer in full swing. Here's what theme park fans and visitors need to know. It's time for Theme Park News.


After Marvel dropped some serious news at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend — if you missed anything, we've got you covered — we're ready to infer which will actually make it inside the parks. Marvel-themed lands are already in the works at Disneyland Resort in California, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris, but if you're not well-versed in the legality of Marvel within theme parks, well, consider yourself lucky. (Here's a solid explainer.)

In essence, Universal Orlando Resort (which shares a parent company with SYFY) still holds a ton of rights to Marvel characters in Orlando, so don't expect Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Avengers or X-Men heading to Walt Disney World anytime soon. (That includes Black Widow, Thor, and, ugh — to think how cool a Dr. Strange dark ride could have been!) But, with The Eternals hitting theaters in 2020 with a brand new cast, it's more than likely this film will have a big Disney presence if it performs well in theaters.


Credit: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

The contract stipulated that Universal only owned the rights to those characters east of the Mississippi, so Disneyland Resort has a lot more flexibility. While their forthcoming Marvel Land hasn't ever been referred to by that name — Disney California Adventure's so-called "Super-Hero Land" is slated to open in phases starting in 2020 — but it will include a Dr. Strange show and Spider-Man attraction, as well as an Avengers attraction down the line, all of which are allowed under the agreement. Still, with an audience filled with local visitors and recent activations for the release of Black Panther, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel, DCA is likely to lean into new Disney+ shows hard with character meet-and-greets, themed food and special events along those lines for each launch.

So much of what gets an attraction relies on its box office success, so with only two films in Phase 4 starring non-Avengers, it's very likely that the next new Marvel ride will be based on The Eternals or Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Disney loves to place new rides in multiple parks these days, so those being free and open rights-wise almost guarantees they'll end up in a Disney theme park somewhere.

Stay tuned to announcements coming from D23 Expo 2019 as well, which should provide a timeline for Guardians of the Galaxy's EPCOT attraction (where it was announced two years back) as well as details for Disney California Adventure's Marvel land.

One question does remain: Will Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being held for the next Marvel phase affect the timeline for the ragtag interstellar gang's forthcoming Epcot ride? Only time will tell, but with its opening tied to Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary in 2021 and that ride being in the works for years now, all is likely to remain on schedule.


USA Today's theme park restaurant ranking is in, and we're not fully on board. The first-place slot, held by Via Napoli, is well-deserved — their pies and Italian grub make for a perfect Epcot sit-down meal — but second-place honors going somewhere other than Walt Disney World when the Orlando theme park has turned itself into a year-round food bonanza is a travesty. (The experts on the panel are extremely legit, but the ranking was done by readers.) Swap Skipper Canteen in for Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom, add a couple of other Disney Springs winners like Wine Bar George, and toss in Universal Orlando's Strong Water Tavern and Disneyland's Napa Rose, and then we're talkin'.


Credit: Disney


Could Florida's Star Wars debut be as subdued as Disneyland's? Disney World released another "free dining" promotion for stays later this year, signaling that rooms are not completely full, despite Galaxy's Edge being on the way. According to The Disney Dish Podcast, inventory is likely low — but if you're already hoping to hug Chewbacca on Batuu in September, November or December, this could surely sweeten the deal.


- Disney removed plastic straws from its parks for conservation reasons... yet it continues to manufacture and sell souvenir ones for $4 a pop.

- Epcot's Monsieur Paul restaurant has a secret summer prix-fixe menu, as reported by Orlando Sentinel. The meal, which offers four courses for $59, is available through the end of September and only upon request.

- Could 3D rides be going by the wayside? Universal theme parks' Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is now operating 2D on both coasts. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey made the switch a couple of years back at Universal Studios Hollywood, while Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, opening at Walt Disney World next year, was specifically designed to feel layered without the use of 3D glasses.