Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

How Does the New Guardians Coaster Rank Among Disney Rides?

May 7, 2022, 2:38 PM · So where does the new Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind rank among Disney's theme park rides?

A reader asked me in the comments on my review of the new Epcot attraction how Cosmic Rewind would rank in the hierarchy of Disney Mountains. That's a great question, but I am going to dismiss it on a technicality, since I do not consider Cosmic Rewind a "Disney Mountain."

This indoor roller coaster is accessed through the Wonders of Xandar pavilion in Epcot's World Discovery. It does not have the word "Mountain" in its name, nor is it built on or within a mountain facade. Sure, Cosmic Rewind's show building is bigger than some Disney mountains, but without a mountain to be seen in its name or setting, I cannot put Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind into the Disney Mountains family.

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind
Meet our Big Bad on Cosmic Rewind, the Celestial Eson. Photo courtesy Disney

That said, I would rank Cosmic Rewind highly among these elite Disney attractions and when considering non-Mountain rides as well. Just so you know where I am coming from, here is my ranking of the Disney Mountains. My elite top three are:

And the rest:

Paris has the best installations of Thunder and Space, while Orlando has the weakest. I would rank Matterhorn higher if Disney could give us some comfortable sleds, but they haven't, so the west coast home of the Yeti gets my last place.

Looking at non-Mountain Disney attractions, the top 10 favorites from our annual reader survey are:

I am good with that list, though I would suggest that Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway should go on it instead of Mission Breakout. I also prefer Tokyo's Tower of Terror to the Twilight Zone version and would be happy swapping Haunted Mansion for Radiator Springs Racers or maybe the ailing Disneyland installation of Indiana Jones, though Tokyo's more-functional version still beats Mansion in my book.

So where does Cosmic Rewind rank?

First up, I think it's the better of Disney's two Guardians of the Galaxy attractions. While I love Mission Breakout, the joy of drifting through space on Cosmic Rewind holds more appeal for me than the Yo-Yo action on Mission Breakout.

So that gets Cosmic Rewind up into the non-Mountain Top 10. Among the Walt Disney World attractions on that list, I cannot rank Cosmic Rewind higher than Flight of Passage, since the Guardians coaster lacks anything that tops that exhilarating emotional moment near the end of Animal Kingdom's Pandora flying theater ride. They're both great attractions - well worth the effort to experience them - but Flight of Passage remains my choice if you told me I could go on one or the other again, now that I have been on both.

So that puts Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind third for me among top attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort, behind Rise of the Resistance and Flight of Passage and juuust ahead of Runaway Railway. As such, Cosmic Rewind ranks easily as my top pick at Epcot.

And since I have Guardians therefore ranked ahead of Expedition Everest, in my book, I guess that means that I consider Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind as the the King of the Disney Mountains.

Even if it isn't a Disney Mountain.

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Replies (22)

May 7, 2022 at 3:25 PM

Appreciate the context and breakdown Robert!!!

May 7, 2022 at 5:56 PM

As I have posted earlier there are only two reviews any WDW will earn in the on-line community - gate crasher or FAIL.

Cosmic is clearly a Disney victory. And (after completing Future World and Play Pavilion) the EPCOT expansion will cement WDW atop the Florida market for the next decade.

May 7, 2022 at 7:28 PM

Of course I will always remember the “classic Epcot” of yore. But I’m glad to see it is getting some long overdue TLC.

May 8, 2022 at 1:34 PM

It's comical how some of the Disney bashing, click bait, blog community are offering begrudgingly qualified praise for the attraction. It's like "Great ride, but it's in the wrong park!"

May 8, 2022 at 1:42 PM

TH, those are the EPCOT purists at play who often seem to forget that Universe of Energy was pulling in no waits, even during peak season.

May 8, 2022 at 4:39 PM

JT, I concur. But others are the cliché, cynical Disney bashers who just can't ever give Disney a victory under any circumstances ... Ever.

May 8, 2022 at 5:57 PM

I'll be honest, Universe of Energy was one I usually skipped. Really, the key pulls were the dinosaurs and taking a break from the heat to sit for 40 minutes.

May 9, 2022 at 12:17 AM

@MikeW, @TH, @James:

I agree on all fronts. Another thing I found annoying about UoE was the cumbersome load schedule and forced wait-time because of the way the attraction was designed. Never been a fan of waiting in a static queue for anything. It’s like waiting for a stunt-show, only you know, it’s a cool Dino ride cut short by an oil infomercial.

And the Disney backlash being in vogue is definitely a thing. Some criticisms are always warranted. But most are trolls shouting louder than the other guy typing. True for Universal too, but seemingly heavily outweighed against Disney in the online arena.

May 8, 2022 at 8:33 PM

A really specific question: How is the leg room on the ride? I haven’t been able to ride Disneyland’s Space Mountain since it requires my femurs to be a couple of inches shorter (I screwed up my knee the last time I tried), so I’m hoping this might be a similar experience that I can ride on.

May 8, 2022 at 8:33 PM

Wait: Robert, you're ranking this better than all mountains? You're ranking this above Splash and Thunder Mountains?

I think of that speech from Free Guy, how if you invented Kentucky Friend Chicken, you wouldn't name your next restaurant Albuquerque Turkey, you'd name it Kentucky Fried Chicken Chicken.

May 9, 2022 at 9:53 AM

@TH - You are so right...I think some blogs and other sites exist solely to hate on everything Disney, and there are many others that can't envision a world where Disney makes a misstep (and Universal hasn't built a great attraction since Jaws).

As far as I'm concerned, NOTHING can ever be perfect for everyone, and there are always aspects of an attraction that could be done better, so any criticism has to be contextualized. Guests are always going to reflect their own opinions when reading an attraction review - either looking to affirm or refute their preconceived notions - just like people do with movie reviews (FWIW, Doctor Strange 2 is spectacular with Raimi given miles more latitude than he ever got in his Spiderman Trilogy).

For me, my favorite Disney attraction list is constantly in flux with RotR NOT the undisputed king (constant technical issues and other shortcomings prevent it from being the clear cut #1 in my book). I really enjoy attractions that have re-rideability like MFSR, GotG:MB, ToT, RnR, and TSM, so the rotating soundtrack of Cosmic Rewind is hugely appealing to me - though the Boarding Groups process makes it impossible to ride the coaster multiple times in a single day. That's also why I generally rate roller coasters higher because of the variable experiences riders can get depending on where they sit on the train.

Like Robert, I would probably rate Everest as Disney's best American coaster (slightly ahead of Incredicoaster), but I do have to say that Hyperspace Mountain is right up there too. So if this ranks right there with Disney's best coasters, it would likely be amongst my top 5 Disney attractions.

May 9, 2022 at 3:27 PM

Yeah TH, that glorified splash pad and green space is sure going to take Epcot to heights it’s never seen before.

May 9, 2022 at 3:41 PM

A lot of reviews I’ve seen from people, many of whom want to stay in Disney’s good graces so they don’t lose their favored status, on this new half BILLION dollar attraction that took nearly five years to build is “It’s actually pretty fun.”

Wow……forgive me if that doesn’t exactly fire me up enough to plunk down a big chunk of cash to experience it in person.

The Galactic Starcruiser was supposedly this “AMAZING” experience that was a total game changer according to the influencers and media people who were given choice access. Doesn’t seem to be quite as well received with the public with stories about the low quality of things like the food, rooms and entertainment now being revealed by regular paying customers.

The fact many of the Disney PR crowd can’t even get up the energy to go beyond “It’s pretty good” in its praise for this attraction, tells me it may fall way short of expectations for the paying public.

But of course, since it hasn’t caught fire or burned down, it’s already an unqualified masterpiece to TH creative.

May 9, 2022 at 5:51 PM

@TheOldCream - As the person who covered the Galactic Starcruiser on behalf of Theme Park Insider, I can unequivocally declare that you are gravely mistaken. You can peddle theories that Disney carefully curates the outlets that are given media access for events based on previous reviews, but that is patently false.

FWIW, general guest reactions to the Galactic Starcruiser have been overwhelmingly positive. As I noted in my review, if you bothered to read it, the cost is certainly a barrier for entry and is going to naturally self select guests who are naturally going to be enthusiastic about the experience, but as someone who already got to experience it once complements of Disney, I would still absolutely pay my own way to do it again.

May 10, 2022 at 6:07 AM

I have to disagree about Matterhorn. I like the uncomfortable cars. Sure, I may be in the minority, but I think it adds to the thrill, but I liked the old Texas Giant in the rattle trains from hell. I can’t wait to ride the Guardians coaster. I love themed coasters, and Everest is my favorite mountain, broken Yeti and all. As to Epcot purism, I am fine as long as they don’t change the World Showcase. The pavilions were mainly a distraction leading to the wonderful low key pace of the countries.

May 10, 2022 at 11:38 AM

I think one's enjoyment of the Matterhorn depends largely on your height. Shorter folks can easily load the cars, the back support reaches up much of their back. For taller folks like me, we can't even get our feet into the car, and even then we have to spread our legs so wide it puts our lower back in a stress position. Meanwhile, the backrest is largely non-existent, so it's a game to see if you have the leg and lower back strength to steady yourself while you're thrown around the least smooth track on earth.

Fun concept, lovely Yeti, absolute back breaker every time.

May 10, 2022 at 2:32 PM

Yeah, I think it's great that Matterhorn exists ... but I don't ride it every time I visit the park.

May 10, 2022 at 2:55 PM

The way Russell just shut down TheOldCream's nonsense would be best described as "an unqualified masterpiece."

(Chuckle)

May 10, 2022 at 6:31 PM

Colonel, I am about the same size as the Yeti, but like I said, I like the hang on for your life feeling. And thank goodness that the Potter Forbidden Journey has the large rider seats. Shoulder restraints are torture.

May 10, 2022 at 10:03 PM

"I am about the same size as the Yeti," haha, nice. Same!

May 11, 2022 at 1:09 PM

The reactions I've seen from people who have attended AP previews, are very enthusiastic, mostly rave reviews. The only complaint seems to be from people prone to motion sickness.

May 14, 2022 at 12:20 PM

@thecolonol I would disagree with the Matterhorn being the "least smooth track on earth."

My vote goes wo Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain (well, actually a lot of Six Flags coasters are pretty bad), but Space Mountain is basically their Matterhorn with the dual tracks, so you could be right. It might be just that on The Matterhorn, I can see which way to lean. I know Disneyland's Space Mountain well enough to anticipate the turns, but it goes long enough between visits to Walt Disney World that I don't remember when to lean each way.

And I have no trouble fitting in even the new Matterhorn cars, but Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom is always a tight fit.

But hey, to each their own. Not looking to argue, just providing my own point of view. The Matterhorn is indeed a very rough attraction (and has a fatality under its belt, which I don't believe Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom does). So I definitely get where you are coming from.

I love that this is one of the few sites in theme park fandom where the comments don't delve into pithy arguments (or if they do, or it's a subject likely to draw them, Robert shuts the comments down). We can disagree on attractions and still be friends.

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