Last week, Disneyland kicked off its golden-anniversary celebration by waxing nostalgic as well as announcing some new attractions that will be coming to Disney's (NYSE:DIS) West Coast theme parks. Over at Disney's California Adventure, the young park's horrendous Superstar Limo ride will be replaced with a family ride themed to the animated hit Monsters, Inc., while Finding Nemo characters will soon leave their watery mark on both Anaheim parks. Tweaking its old submarine voyage in Disneyland into a Nemo underwater adventure; porting the jaw-dropping "Turtle Talk With Crush" show into the California Adventure animation studio... do you see the common thread in these new additions?

Yes, that's right. They are all the handiwork of Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR). This is important because even if Disney and Pixar part ways after their joint springtime release of Cars next year, it doesn't mean that the relationship ends. As long as Disney continues to use the characters that Pixar created over the past 10 years in sequels and merchandising, it will still have to cut Pixar a check.

Because Pixar stands to collect half of the proceeds generated from licensed products -- and considerably less, but still a cut if Disney produces any sequels to Pixar's movies without Pixar -- these theme-park rides are huge. As anyone who has stepped into a Disney park over the past few years knows, rides and attractions empty out into gift shops these days -- or, at the bare minimum, into an active kiosk just by the ride exit.

These aren't the first Pixar character rides that Disney has built. There are now three Buzz Lightyear shooting-gallery rides around the world, a Buzz Lightyear bumper car attraction at Disney World's DisneyQuest, and even Pixar's least successful release -- A Bug's Life -- in attractions at California Adventure and Florida's Animal Kingdom.

DreamWorks Animation (NYSE:DWA) has followed suit with Shrek shows at Universal Studios, and it may be just a welcome coincidence that Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection Marvel (NYSE:MVL) has seen its shares sling higher after Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Dr. Doom became permanent residents at Islands of Adventure in Florida.

That's why I believe that Pixar's earnings potential is greater than even what it showed during last week's market-thumping quarter. It's not just that Pixar stands to reap 100% of its new film profits after next year, but also that it will continue to reap profits from any development of its characters in Disney's hands.

Decades from now, as long as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin remains at the Disney theme parks, Disney will be selling Toy Story merchandise and cutting checks to Pixar. If Cars is a hit and that inspires Disney to give its Tomorrowland Speedway a themed makeover, it will mean even more royalties for Pixar.

That's why I'm a fan of Pixar, DreamWorks, and Marvel -- all three have produced memorable characters that will continue to deliver licensing profits. Disney obviously isn't much of a slouch there, either.

Now if only we could manage to talk a theme park into building a Motley Fool ride! Oh, the jester hats we would sell.

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Talk about it all and then some on our Pixar discussion board.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns all of the Pixar releases on DVD. Yes, he owns shares of Pixar, too -- and Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.