Park of the Week: SeaWorld San Diego

Ride Review: Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind

May 5, 2022, 1:27 PM · After nearly 40 years of operation, Walt Disney World's Epcot finally has its roller coaster.

Long the world's most-visited theme park without one, Epcot's lack of a roller coaster spoke to its different theme and focus among parks. This wasn't just another fun park. Epcot had gravitas. This was Disney's non-fiction park, one that spoke to the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.

Well, one of those infinite possibilities was that Disney World visitors would want to see some Disney stories in Epcot. Over the years, Disney has obliged them by adding more IP to the park, even as other long-time Epcot fans complained about the deterioration of the park they had grown to love.

With Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, Disney reaches for another possible future, one in which Walt Disney World can have it all - an Epcot attraction based on the world's most popular IP (Marvel, ahem) that also sneaks in one of those lessons that gave the park the gravitas it enjoyed for so long.

Think that's an impossible task? Well, if there's one crew in Disney's portfolio that is known for pulling off wildly improbable, even seemingly impossible challenges, it's the Guardians of the Galaxy. And with some help from their friends in the Nova Corps from the planet of Xandar, they do it.

From now on, it's spoiler time.

It's the Wonders of Xandar pavilion that we find taking over the old Universe of Energy space in what is now Epcot's World Discovery neighborhood. The pavilion welcomes visitors with The Galaxarium, which introduces us to Xandar (for those who haven't seen the Guardians movies). From there, we proceed into Xandar Gallery to learn more about the planet, its people, and its cities.

It's there that we watch a broadcast of "Good Morning Xandar" featuring interviews with our Guardian heroes. Star Lord, aka Peter Quill, steals the show here with his enthusiasm for the 1980s Epcot of his youth. Sure, it's an Easter egg gag, but it's also a brilliant move by Disney to acknowledge the nostalgia that so many fans feel for this park.

From the Gallery, we get our first surprise - that this isn't simply another static World's Fair/Epcot-type pavilion. Nope, we are on our way from here to an even bigger attraction, a Nova Corps Starcharter cruiser orbiting Earth. Just enter the Phase Chamber, and thanks to the Xandarians' Cosmic Generator, we will be on our way.

And this is the moment where it all goes terribly wrong. A Celestial, Eson, steals the Cosmic Generator and announces his plans to use it to turn back time and prevent Earth's creation. Since our Starjumper shuttles are the only ships in the area, it's up to us to follow Eson and keep track of him until the Guardians can arrive and save the day.

You can watch the entire preshow unfold in our queue walkthrough video.

From there, it's on board the 20-person Vekoma "Omnicoaster" vehicles for our trip to save the galaxy. Disney recorded my ride and edited it into this highlight reel.

I got "Disco Inferno" on that ride, which explains my joy throughout. Cosmic Rewind plays one of six songs on each trip, creating even more re-ride appeal for this indoor coaster. Disney's made a lot of its Omnicoaster tech for this ride, but let me rephrase that buzzword it a way that will make it more instantly understandable for most coaster fans.

This is a spinning coaster. No, the cars do not spin randomly or under the influence of their weight. The spins are controlled and timed to the show pieces and the track itself. That not only allows everyone a head-on view of Eson, the Guardians, and their battle, but also changes the dynamic of riding. Instead of barreling through each turn, you drift through them.

Imagine Space Mountain as a drifting, spinning coaster, plussed with the sassy banter of the Guardians of the Galaxy as a GenX pop favorite plays and you watch the crew take down a Celestial. That's the log line for Cosmic Rewind.

Don't expect Hagrid's length here. Taking just a couple of minutes from dispatch to unload, this is more a plussed Space Mountain than an extended dark ride experience. But for goodness' sake, isn't a plussed, 21st-century Space Mountain enough? With a show building of more than 200,000 square feet and track length of 5,577 feet, this is Disney's longest fully enclosed coaster and its first to feature a reverse launch.

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind delivers the irreverent fun of a Guardians movie with the mild thrills of a Disney coaster. There are no inversions, the launch didn't seem all that fast (I couldn't get an official speed for the ride), and the drifting softens the Gs of the curves. Save for one relatively intense helix in the middle of the ride, Cosmic Rewind shouldn't strain any emerging roller coaster fan. But it will reward them with a unique and always engaging ride.

Epcot wasn't supposed to be a mere fun park, right? Yet with its Xandar theme and storyline, Cosmic Rewind sneaks in one of these Epcot messages after all. Listen to Steve Spiegel, Story Editor Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, who talked with me after my first ride.

"No matter how far apart we are, we are more alike than we are different. Even though we are talking about another culture from another planet, that same can be said for any culture here on Earth," he said. "We all came from the same stardust."

And we all love a good time.

* * *
We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that - and our approach to covering theme park, travel, and entertainment news - please sign up for our free, three-times-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.

Replies (19)

May 5, 2022 at 2:34 PM

This appears to have a Rock 'n Rollercoaster vibe to it with a more modern aesthetic with all of the projections standing in for the cardboard cutouts. The queue looks very similar in layout and flow to FoP with a bit of Dinosaur/Countdown to Extinction to it.

It's difficult to tell from the videos, but it looks like the transport room effects are similar to the effect on Star Trek: The Experience with a slightly less-spectacular arrival scene. I think designers have figured out that you need a "wow" moment in the preshow now too given the success of so many intricately themed queues and preshows, and that moment made me smile to see some old tech used to make a big impact.

I'm actually kind of surprised at the length here given that the coaster goes through over a mile of track, but the experience clocks in at @ 3 minutes, which is about the same time as Incredicoaster. I guess I expected the Disney-billed "story-coaster" would have more stops and starts instead of trains flying pretty much continuously through the circuit.

May 5, 2022 at 3:11 PM

I wouldn't call this a storycoaster if that's the term we are using for Hagrid's. This is not a progression of show scenes, but - as Russell said - a continuous fly-through.

I do love the disappearing room effect in the preshow, along with the Pepper's Ghost effect to make the Cosmic Generator disappear. Really nice stagecraft here.

May 5, 2022 at 3:37 PM

@Robert:
So, if pressed, where would you rank this in the hierarchy or Disney Mountains?


Follow up question:

Did you notice any UoE Easter eggs?

May 5, 2022 at 3:41 PM

That's a blog post, not a comment!

But thank you for the idea. Watch for it soon.

May 5, 2022 at 3:51 PM

I am scheduled to ride on May 24th. In this day and age a WDW attraction will have one of two reviews: "Gate Crasher" or "Not Worth The Wait".

Based on Robert's review. This attraction is a fat "Gate Crasher".

May 5, 2022 at 4:13 PM

This does look much better than expected and the Easter eggs to past EPCOT are a nice touch.

May 5, 2022 at 4:50 PM

One more thing - this ride has been a warhorse all day. Super reliable operations. Not at all like some other recent Orlando new-ride media events. This one looks like it could be up there with VelociCoaster for uptime. Fingers crossed.

May 6, 2022 at 5:30 AM

This looks great. I can't wait to ride it.

May 6, 2022 at 7:47 AM

"One more thing - this ride has been a warhorse all day. Super reliable operations."

Hopefully that means that the Boarding Groups procedure won't last very long, and they can implement a standard standby line sometime during the summer.

May 6, 2022 at 10:20 AM

I wanted to hate this.

Being one of those "Epcot purists", I wanted to stand in front of the building shaking my fist in the air screaming "NEVER!!!". But after seeing 2 different videos, I REALLY wanna experience this in person!

I don't love the IP and I've seen all the Guardian films but the ambiance, bgm and lighting feels very Epcot to me. The narrator describing Xandar was very reminiscent of Horizons and of course Star Lord's references hit that sweet spot. This very well could be an acceptable successor to UoE.

May 6, 2022 at 12:02 PM

Very low key review, for a (estimated, by one theme park expert) $500 million ride. I can barely tell if you liked? loved? this new ride, Robert. Are you lukewarm about it? From the advance hype/word, I thought this would be the latest cutting edge mind blasting high tech attraction.

May 6, 2022 at 12:17 PM

"But for goodness' sake, isn't a plussed, 21st-century Space Mountain enough?"

Do you think Webslingers, a mildly-plussed Midway mania, is enough? I don't.

What about Millennium Falcon, a plussed version of Star Tours--enough? Again, not for me, it's the same thing we've been on before with a few extra bells and whistles.

I had hoped that given the very tame nature of the ride, this would be a story coaster. But it looks like a less exciting version of Space Mountain, which at least has some kinetic thrills. Why have the car turn if you're not going to show us a story? And put me in the camp of people who are over Chris Pratt's smarmy persona, he is played out.

I guess Disney took their shot on Rise and are back to phoning it in.

May 6, 2022 at 12:17 PM

@Still a fan: Academic question with no ulterior motives, who was the "theme park expert"? I don't doubt the estimate, just curious about the source.

May 6, 2022 at 12:35 PM

I had to smile Robert ….. Velocicoaster uptime …. :)
I don’t think a day goes by when it isn’t down. OK, so it’s not a ROTR downtime, but I for one certainly hopes Guardians is more reliable than VC.

May 6, 2022 at 12:55 PM

VC seemed to be up consistently its first season. Can someone in Orlando report on when that changed?

And Midway Mania is no Space Mountain.

May 6, 2022 at 5:12 PM

Robert …. I’m a universal pass holder who has been twice this week so far. I can assure you, it has it’s fair share of downtime week in week out. I think it was Wednesday it failed to open, and when it did, wait times were double that of Hagrid’s. Today they were running the usual 3 trains, so the 30min posted was good enough for me to get one ride in.

I check the app at home for wait times on VC because, if like today it says 30mins or less, I’m lucky enough to be able to leave home and be in IOA inside 15mins.

So I’m someone in Orlando, who can definitely confirm VC is unfortunately a typical Intamin, alongside it’s stablemate, Hagrid’s.

May 6, 2022 at 10:17 PM

Darn. I guess VC just looked good initially next to Hagrid’s.

May 7, 2022 at 1:05 AM

Here's the quote from the Bloomberg article:

"Disney spent $500 million on the ride, according to an estimate from Dennis Speigel, an industry consultant.

'The technology there is incredible,' he said. The company declined to comment on the cost."

I'm assuming that this guy Spiegel knows what he's talking about?

P.S.; During our planned ten day WDW vacation in October, I HOPE to ride it at least once. If the virtual queue system is still the only way, though, all bets are off. Hate the VQ.

May 10, 2022 at 4:40 PM

Thanks

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Weekly Newsletter