One Universal Theme Park Land May End Up Getting Replaced, And Disney Factors In

Homer and Goofy
(Image credit: Disney+)

Theme parks are always changing and evolving, adding new areas and attractions and replacing the old. Universal Parks & Resorts is in the process of building an entirely new theme park in Epic Universe, but once that’s done, it seems likely that attention will shift to a land that exists both in Orlando and at Universal Studios Hollywood, Springfield, home of The Simpsons. Since Disney bought Fox, The House of Mouse now owns Homer and family, which means the land will probably be gone from Universal sooner than later.

Disney and Universal have a fairly odd relationship on the theme park side of things. They are, of course, major competitors, with each company having parks both in Southern California and Orlando, Florida. But beyond that, Universal has the theme park rights to multiple IPs that are currently owned by Disney. Universal made a deal with Marvel before Disney purchased the company to put the comic book superheroes in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and they made a deal with Fox to get the Simpsons on both coasts. 

How Universal’s Deal For The Simpsons Is Different Than Marvel 

But there is a difference between the two deals. The one made with Marvel has no end date. As long as Universal Orlando Resort continues to use and maintain its Marvel land, they will continue to hold the rights for Marvel characters in the park. 

The only caveats in that deal are that Universal only has the theme park rights east of the Mississippi, which is why Disney was able to open Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort, and more recently at Disneyland Paris, and any characters Universal doesn’t use are fair game, which is why Disney World was able to use the Guardians of the Galaxy for the Cosmic Rewind roller coaster. The Guardians were fairly obscure characters in Marvel Comics before the first MCU movie and so Universal didn’t include them anywhere.

With The Simpsons, however, things are a bit different. As The Street points out, that deal has an end date, the only question is, what is that date? It’s unknown when the deal between Universal Parks and Resorts and Fox will expire. 

When The Simpsons Could Disappear From Universal Parks

Rumors have indicated it could be a 20 year deal, which would put the end of it in 2028, just six years from now. The general assumption is that Disney will let the deal end because in addition to allowing Universal to use The Simpsons in their parks, the deal prevents Disney from doing the same.  

With most of Universal Creative’s attention on the new theme park, that will keep them busy until Epic Universe’s projected opening in 2025. But it seems likely that once Epic Universe is up and running, Universal could start working on what to put in place of the two Simpsons themed lands.

This, of course, assumes that Disney wants to put The Simpsons in its own parks. While The Simpsons is not at the height of its popularity as it was back when Universal first built its lands, they are still popular characters that Disney would likely use. 

But maybe not. It’s at least theoretically possible that Disney could be happy just making money off a new licensing deal and letting Universal keep The Simpsons. Maybe there’s a deal to be made that would get Disney back some or all of the Marvel rights in exchange for, among other things, continued use of The Simpsons. We’ll have to wait a few years and see. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.