By: Mark R. Malek
As is the case on many weekends, I spent this past weekend at the Disney Theme Parks. Mostly in part because some dear friends were in town there with their kids, and we wanted to get together with them. (On a side note, check out their webiste – they do a lot for kids with autism.) We spent tome time at the Magic Kingdom on Friday, Hollywood Studios yesterday to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (if you have never seen it, put it on your bucket list – absolutely amazing) and today we rounded out the weekend with a quick trip to Animal Kingdom. I really love Animal Kingdom, and the kids seem to have a great time there. We are usually in and out after riding one or two rides, and spending time in Dino Land.
As usual, we had another great weekend at the happiest place on earth. As we were leaving Animal Kingdom, however, my oldest son spotted the face painters, and decided that he wanted to have it done. In six years, and countless birthday parties that always had face painting at them, he never once let someone get near his face. When he told me he wanted to have face painting done, I knew right then and there that I didn’t care how much it cost, he was going to get his face painted up. Parents who have had their kids’ faces painted up know the routine. The kid switches back and forth about ten times trying to decide which face painting they want, and right before they sit down, they lock in their choice. We had gone through a panda bear, a lion, a dinosaur, and right before he sat down, he picked Spider Man. Well, not Spider Man, but “Webbed Hero.”
I’m not going to lie to you – it came out great. He sat still and the face painter did a fantastic job in about 5 minutes. I had a happy kid when it was all said and done. Right when he picked it out, though, I was kind of shocked. I always thought that Spiderman was a Universal thing – the theme park just down the road, right? Then I remembered that Disney bought Marvel Entertainment just a couple of years ago (source), and that Spiderman was a Marvel Comic. So if Disney has some rights to Spiderman, why not call him Spiderman, instead of “Webbed Hero?”
I guarantee the answer to that has something to do with why there is still a Spiderman Ride at Universal Studios (Disney’s biggest competitor in Orlando). I suspect there has to be some sort of deal where Disney has licensed some use of Spiderman to Universal, and has reserved for itself some copyrights that would allow face painters to paint kids up as “Webbed Heros.” Unfortunately, when they reserved the copyrights, they probably did not reserve any trademark rights, i.e., rights in the name, which is why they did not advertise a “Spiderman” face painting option. I am not sure what the real deal is here, but it just struck me as weird as I was watching my son get his face painted. Just some musings from my weekend. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day weekend.