The box office is going to be dominated this weekend by something…Strange. Dr. Strange, to be exact. The latest Marvel Superhero character to hit the big screen is bending space and time, and box office receipts. He's also bending the theme park rules, as Dr. Strange has made his first appearance at a Disney park.
Why is that so…Strange? Because the Sorcerer Supreme is now appearing at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, where the magic of Marvel is supposed to be forbidden.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr. Strange, a brilliant surgeon who undergoes a terrible accident, and loses the use of his hands. He then discovers his other abilities, and becomes a very powerful sorcerer who can bend space and time. He also has control of the “multiverse,” a place where the infinite alternate universes intersect. Disney has unveiled an all new experience featuring Dr. Strange, which is part meet and greet and part stage show, and all Disney magic.
The experience picks young guests that possess a gift of the mystic arts, and sets them up for training with the good Doctor. The show portion includes taking about ten kids from the audience through different spells and techniques that will hone their skills in the mystic arts. It uses some very clever slight of hand tricks, most often used by magicians, as well as some very cool special effects. The result is a realistic magic show featuring one of Marvel Comics’ most underrated characters.
However, don't expect to hear the name Marvel in the Disney Parks, or even see Dr. Strange being promoted in the parks. Instead, you'll have to know where to look for him (it's at the end of Pixar Place close to Toy Story Mania) and be one with the mystic arts to find him. No, he's not hiding from a bad guy out to destroy him, but a very tricky contract between Universal Orlando and Disney.
Before the opening of Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, Marvel and Universal signed an exclusive contract that would keep Marvel characters out of theme parks East of the Mississippi River. That contract did not have an expiration date, and was good as long as Universal met certain provisions. That was at least a decade before Disney bought Marvel, and their entire roster of characters. Even though Disney owns the Marvel characters, they are still used at Universal Orlando. Disney owns the Marvel characters, but cannot use them in their parks without breaking the contract.
However there seems to be a loophole that allows Disney to use the characters in the park, without breaking the contract. The rumor is that Disney is allowed to use characters that were not on the screen before contract, and are not being used at Universal.
That means that you will not see The Avengers with Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk at Walt Disney World. You will also not see Spiderman at Disney either. Instead you will see Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy and possibly even Black Panther in the future. The only stipulation of that is that the attraction cannot use the name “Marvel” and the attraction cannot be used for any promotion of the parks, including in park maps. Kind of makes it hard to tell the world about a major new attraction when you can't even advertise what you're opening.
Still, the Dr. Strange experience is an amazing one that the entire family will enjoy. Guests visiting Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World can see Dr. Strange several times daily, using all manner of props and landmarks from the comics and the movie.
You can also see Dr. Strange on the big screen at theaters nationwide.