Disney Threatens Universal Orlando’s ‘Springfield’
Posted by: Sharon July 21, 2022Reading time: 3 minutes
Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort have always been competitors, since both Floridian tourist destinations have similar attractions and roller coasters to draw in visitors. In general, the competition has been steady but non-threatening; however, Universal Orlando will soon have one particular vulnerability that the Walt Disney Company might take advantage of!
According to a recent report from The Street, a deal involving a classic television comedy will most likely end in 2028 — and it might just provide the Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney World Resort with an excuse that could get some serious negotiations started. Comcast, which is the parent company of Universal Orlando Resort, has had a long-standing deal involving The Simpsons.
Unlike Universal’s Marvel deal, which does not have a time limit in place, the Simpsons deal will end in seven years. This might seem irrelevant, but Disney owns the popular television show now. This switches a deal that Universal had (that did not involve Disney) to a deal that could directly involve Universal Orlando Resort’s big competitor.
The Simpsons is a popular animated television show. Credit: 20th Television Animation
Universal Orlando Resort has a land in its theme park called Springfield, based on the setting for The Simpsons. The Floridian theme park’s Californian equal, Universal Studios Hollywood, also has a Springfield land. According to the recently-shared report, “rumors indicate the duration [of the Simpsons deal] is a 20-year licensing agreement, putting the end year at 2028″ and “there are some anecdotal signs that Universal may be prepared to move on from “The Simpsons.”
The Simpsons family includes Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson, Lisa Simpson, and Maggie Simpson. Credit: 20th Television Animation
Even if Universal is not willing to fight for the Simpsons intellectual property in order to keep the theme parks’ Springfield attractions, the prospect of losing some characters to Disney after the IP deal ends could result in some conflict.
If Disney was able to begin negotiating deals with Universal about the animated TV show, it seems possible that Disney could segue into trying to change Universal Orlando’s Marvel deal along the way — and if Universal refused to stop featuring Marvel characters in its theme parks, then Disney would possibly have a leg to stand on in order to not only bring about the closure of the Springfield lands in Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, but also to fight with Universal about its use of Marvel characters.
‘Avengers: Quantum Encounter’ is an interactive show and dining experience on the Disney Wish that stars Marvel actors Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, and Iman Vellani. Credit: Disney Parks Blog
Are you a fan of The Simpsons? Do you think that Disney would use the allegedly-expiring deal as a step toward weakening Universal Orlando and removing Simpsons-related lands in the theme parks, or as a way to make alterations to Universal’s current Marvel rights?
Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!