What Was 2022's Best New Theme Park Attraction?

December 15, 2022, 6:56 PM · Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for our 2023 Theme Park Insider Awards. Now it's time to vote on the finalists, starting with Best New Attraction of the Year.

Two new attractions stood far above all others in the nominations this year, so these are our two finalists. And they both are coasters that hail from the state of Florida.

The first to debut was Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Here is what Bobbie Butterfield wrote about this new RMC rebuild of the former Gwazi coasters: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Has a Winner With Iron Gwazi.

Our second finalist is its park's first-ever coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Walt Disney World's Epcot. Here is what I had to say about Disney's indoor, backward-launchinhg spinning coaster: Ride Review: Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind.

If you were among the millions of fans who rode these coasters this year, please let us know which was your favorite. Or just read our reviews (linked above), watch the videos, and pick your winner.

We will announce the winners of the 21st annual Theme Park Insider Awards on January 1, 2023.

* * *
For more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

And to help support Theme Park Insider while saving money on discounted theme park tickets, please follow the ticket icon links our Theme Park listings page.

Replies (13)

December 15, 2022 at 10:09 PM

Iron Gwazi is a great coaster that deserves better than the inevitable clobbering it’s gonna get. So I will throw a gator a bone and pull the lever for that today.

December 15, 2022 at 11:32 PM

Guardians is my least favorite coaster at WDW and no matter how hard they tried to shoehorn the IP into the park, to me it seems out of place. Straight up business over creative decision. Same with the Moana thing that looks ridiculous in the middle of Epcot. Sadly I also feel the same way about Harmonius as well (if Disney+ failures didn't get Chapek fired the Epcot renovation should have haha).
That being said Guardians is hugely popular and gets rave reviews, it's a big accomplishment when it comes to tech/coaster/theming/reliability. But for me it was nauseating, most of the ride I just wanted it to be over, and I don't care about the IP. It's just not my cup of tea.

If I were younger Iron Gwazi would probably be in my top 3, so i'm going with IG.

December 16, 2022 at 2:45 AM

I've ridden over 600 roller coasters, and Iron Gwazi is in my personal top five. With the possible exception of Steel Vengeance, it is the finest attraction RMC has crafted, and it is so good that Busch Gardens Tampa is now a must visit park for me on all future Florida trips. Unless you don't appreciate pure thrill rides or cannot fit on the attraction, I don't think anyone can ride Iron Gwazi and reasonably conclude there is a better coaster-based attraction in the state (with the possible exception of VelociCoaster).

I have not yet ridden Guardians of the Galaxy because I opted not to buy a ticket to Epcot (or visit WDW at all) on this year's Florida trip. However, most of those I know who have ridden it say it is really good but not quite on the level of recent Disney greats like Flight of Passage or Rise of the Resistance. I hope to experience it on next year's trip to see where it stacks up for me.

December 16, 2022 at 6:20 AM

I love Iron Gwazi. I love Velocicoaster. Ridden both several times. My conclusion is that while Iron Gwazi is the better thrill ride, Velocicoaster is the better overall attraction. I enjoy my re-rides on Velocicoaster slightly more. My middle-aged body gets hammered on Iron Gwazi.

December 16, 2022 at 9:08 AM

My wife and I were at WDW and rode Guardians twice during the week we visited. We loved it both times and being 80s kids we were giggling our heads off riding and singing along to the music (we got “I Ran” and then “One Way or Another”.
We loved the ride and it will be a must visit every time.
That being said…
Guardians, Moana, Frozen, Finding Nemo have no reason to be at Epcot. It’s thematically opposed to the concept itself. A bastardization of what Epcot is supposed to be about, namely a celebration of our world and people. Guardians was a blast, but it belonged at the Studio park thematically.

December 16, 2022 at 9:57 AM

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the smoothest coaster I have ever ridden. It certainly needs to be ridden multiple times to catch all the references and visuals (I have ridden it three times...I have fast fingers when getting boarding groups).

EPCOT is a park in transition. Those who claim that EPCOT's changes aren't along the lines of the park's original conception forget that EPCOT wasn't even supposed to be a park, but rather a community in which people lived and worked. If those people would take their families to that park more often and spend more money, then Disney wouldn't have to add IPs to EPCOT to entice families to attend.

December 16, 2022 at 3:42 PM

We had a chance to ride both coasters on our recent trip to Florida in October. I strongly feel that GOTG:CR is the BEST coaster in all of WDW. It’s also probably one of the smoothest coasters I’ve ever ridden with an excellent pre show and queue. However, it just feels like there’s something missing as an overall experience that WDI was able to capture with GOTG:MB. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but aside from wanting to hear the other songs (we got Everybody Wants to Rule the World), I didn’t have a strong desire to re-ride - granted unless you’re willing to pay extra, you can’t ride more than once in a day anyway.

On the other hand, Iron Gwazi had adrenaline pulsing through my veins, and its layout was pitch perfect. It’s maybe even a touch better than Steel Vengeance for me because it doesn’t dawdle with all the annoying mini airtime hills at the end that I find exhausting. Iron Gwazi has such great pacing and intensity without being over the top. It’s certainly not as widely ridden as GOTG:CR, but it is a far superior coaster.

December 16, 2022 at 5:13 PM

Mannnn, this is apples and oranges or Beatles vs. Rolling Stones. Both are great on what they seek out to do. They both made me feel 10 years younger. IG gets the thrill. Guardians gets everything else.

I went with IG because I think about that one more often.

December 16, 2022 at 9:39 PM

Last week I rode IG for the 50th time, and today GotG the 35th, so I know them both very well.

IG is a beast ... in the back row. I say to people, if you haven't ridden IG in the back, then you haven't ridden the 'real' IG. I wish it was a few 100 feet longer as the end comes a little abruptly, but it's still my #3 favorite of all time.

Guardians is a great immersive attraction. As a roller coaster it's blah, but everything else around it makes it a must ride every time I go to Epcot. The Christmas song really sucks, and for me the coaster is less of a great ride with it playing. I never thought that a particular song(s) would enhance the ride experience, but putting up with the Christmas song now for 4 rides, all I can say is roll on January when we'll have the 6 songs back.

After all that .... Iron Gwazi wins hands down. Even when not in the back row ... LOL :)

December 17, 2022 at 1:41 PM

I find the wild “better than Steel Vengeance” praise for Iron Gwazi a bit overheated…and yet it’s still comfortably in my top 15 out of more than 325 coasters and is a substantially better coaster than Guardians, a ride I really enjoyed but didn’t love (its one true “wow” moment is in the pre-show). Guardians will win because of the makeup of this site but I echo a lot of the comments here saying IG should take the crown.

December 18, 2022 at 4:45 AM

IG seems more thrilling and fun, Disney spent a ton and 7 years and got beat by an updated 1996 coaster ??

December 18, 2022 at 10:35 AM

Iron Gwazi--consistently ranked as one of the best roller coasters in the world--vs. Cosmic Rewind--the best at Disney World? This doesn't even seem like it should be close but to each their own.

December 18, 2022 at 9:17 PM

folks, the poll isn't asking you to choose the best roller coaster. it's asking you to choose the best new attraction. these two attractions are trying to do vastly different things, and I don't begrudge anyone choosing iron gwazi, but it's probably worth keeping in mind what we're trying to do here.

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

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive