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The Guardians of the Galaxy ride, Walt Disney World’s newest, hottest attraction, is more than a roller coaster. It’s an omnicoaster! Our TravelingDad and his teens got a first look. Here he shares the details, a glimpse behind the scenes and a very enthusiastic thumbs up.
What would you do to ride Walt Disney World’s new attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, before it officially opened? Hmm. I was posed with this very question a short while ago by a friend who had extra tickets to the Annual Passholder preview.
Now, I have to be honest. This is a bucket list item for me. While, yes I am a super Walt Disney World theme park fan, I have only been a Disney annual passholder one year out of my 50 thus far and I am not a DVC owner.
Normally, I have to watch from the blogosphere sidelines as everyone attends the media events for the new attractions, the 50th Anniversary celebrations, or publishes POV ride videos of the latest Disney Imagineering achievement.
This time, it was my turn and I took my teenagers along for what we dubbed “24 Hours in WDW.”
24 Hours in Disney World
We literally flew into the Orlando airport Sunday afternoon, stayed overnight at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel (to take advantage of early theme park entry), went to EPCOT at first light, checked in and rode the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride (amazing BTW) in early afternoon, then headed back to the airport.
We had an amazingly exhausting adventure.
Here, I share everything you need to know about the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride.
But first, a disclaimer: There will be spoilers. Please read accordingly.
What is the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride?
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a new roller coaster located in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park. It replaces Ellen’s Energy Adventure as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
According to the Disney Parks website, the new ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a “family-thrill attraction featuring the first reverse-launch on a Disney coaster and is one of the largest fully-enclosed coasters in the world! A new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering, this coaster rotates 360 degrees so you can focus on the action!”
It is this omnicoaster innovation that really makes the Guardian’s roller coaster unique.
Most roller coasters are front facing, with a high back chair. They take off with super speed, (think Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith! at Hollywood Studios). Once you launch, the G-forces of the speed presses you into the chair and keeps you from moving as you do a loop-d-loop or descend and spin.
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The new rotating omnicoaster ride system of Cosmic Rewind means there is minimal G-force overall on this ride. Instead, you to feel like you are in a movie scene with your favorite galaxy-saving gang.
As you glide and rotate along the tracks, ride scenes of Star-Lord and friends surround you while 80s music is blasting around you. Your viewpoint changes with every twist and turn of the track. You start out facing forward. But as you turn, say left, the tail of your car rotates out to the right and you face left for an incredibly quick and smooth ride experience.
The ride system, while fast, does not interfere with the ride experience.
The new Wonders of Xandar Pavilion is located across from Test Track in EPCOT.
It uses Ellen’s show building for the indoor queue line which wraps around a new feature named a Galaxarium and has two pre-shows.
Pre-Show 1: The Storyline
The storyline for the new ride is taken from the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy films. The planet of Xandar, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course us, the Terrans, join together in an interstellar adventure to save Earth from being erased from time.
Like all good Disney rides, the storytelling starts in the ride queue. Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord) has been telling Nova Corps how great and similar we are to the Xandarians.
As you walk through the queue, there are screens and monitors showing Peter Quill (with humorous interjections from all of your favorite Guardians, including Drax, Rocket, Groot and Gamora) being interviewed by Nova Corps. He’s describing different aspects of Earth culture and life.
As you exit the queue into a large briefing room, Nova Prime (played by actress Glenn Close) tells you that Xandar is intrigued by what Peter Quill has told them.
Nova Corps has developed a system that allows a ship to ‘jump’ from point to point throughout space. They send a ship to orbit Earth and take a select few (approximately 25 every 5 minutes) to visit Xandar.
Pre-Show 2: The Beaming Room
Once you get briefed by Nova Prime, you go to the “beaming” room where a helpful crew member walks you through the process of scanning and beaming you up to the ship now orbiting Earth for the jump to Xandar.
What we, the audience, don’t know is that the device Nova Corps created contains an infinity stone (a powerful gem-like object that contains specific powers).
At this point, Eson (an ancient Celestial being, we call him “The Bad Guy”), takes the device and threatens to erase Earth from existence. Not a great way to start your magic day at Disney! Only you and the Guardians can stop him.
We accept the challenge and head to the loading area to ride a vehicle Rocket has made for us.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Ride
As we approached the loading area, the first thing we noticed the ride vehicle was not very tall. We are not giant folk but the top of the vehicle only came up to my shoulders, which is unusual for a roller coaster. I believe it is because there is no super fast accelerations and it keeps all the site lines open for the whole vehicle.
After loading, we counted down and launched around a corner to a large area with a huge screen that surrounded us on all sides. As soon as we arrived, Eson and the Guardians came on the screen to go over the situation.
Because we were on the omnicoaster the action on screen moved with us as the track turned corners and we rotated as we turned.
Once Eson grabbed Earth, Rocket enhanced our ride vehicle to allow us to follow him throughout the universe. This is when the excitement started. The vehicle accelerated and zoomed around corners while we passed screen after screen of real footage of the Guardians flying along with us and battling Eson.
The whole time, they were bantering with perfect comedic timing and dry humor. At one point, Star-Lord mentions something about the Milky Way and Drax says that he doesn’t like milk because it makes him gassy.
Love that 80s Music!
Another great detail of this ride is the music. Music was such an integral part of the Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy films I am glad to see they carried it over to the ride.
The Disney Imagineers created a mix tape of 6 songs that rotate every time you ride. This was an unexpected feature we discovered when we rode the roller coaster a second time.
After defeating Eson and saving Earth by blowing up the Nova Corps device, we ‘jump’ back to Earth and receive a message from the Guardians telling us we are honorary Guardians of the Galaxy.
Drax points out that there is no more room on the ship for all of us. Peter Quill tells him it is a figure of speech and Drax, says out loud, ‘Oh you’re lying to them. I can lie.’ Classic Drax.
Working Out the Bugs in the System
Any time a new theme park ride or attraction opens, there are invariably some ride system quirks that need to be ironed out. Sometimes a ride just stops working (ask Test Track in EPCOT), or has so much new technology it needs rebooting a few times a day (see Star Wars Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios).
I think Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind may suffer a similar future. The first indication that Rocket, a super intelligent racoon, may have created our ride vehicle was that it took 3 times for the shoulder brackets to engage before we were allowed to blast off.
Once we blasted off, we got about two-thirds into the ride, and on a flat ramp before the last blast off, the ride vehicle stopped. At first it was cool. The music was still playing, the rides scenes stopped, but we were not worried.
A Peek Behind the Scenes
Then we heard the overhead voice – “the ride has temporarily stopped, please stay in your vehicle.”
Then the lights came on. This was super cool!
We could see everything – the 180 degree movie screens, the ride track, and all the ground facilities. It felt like we were the only ones in the whole complex.
There was no other ride vehicle to be seen or heard, no Cast Members around, only the ‘voice’ telling us the ride would resume any minute.
This building was so big, we could’ve been in Magic Kingdom and we would not have known. The ride tracks were about 10 inches in diameter making for a super quiet and smooth ride experience.
Eventually the ‘voice’ told us the ride was resuming and the lights turned off and away we went.
The movie scenes did not reboot in time so the rest of the ride was dark until the last scene where our heroes congratulated us on saving the planet and pronounced us official Guardians of the Galaxy.
As we got out of our vehicle we asked the befuddled Cast Members if we could ride again because of our ‘exclusive’ ride stoppage experience. They kindly said yes and ushered us back into line. This time the ride experience was 100% perfect.
We blasted off to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and found out that we missed the climax of the ride which is destroying the Infinity Stone device and preventing Eson from erasing Earth from existence. Yeah! Now it makes sense why we are honorary Guardians of the Galaxy.
- The new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride has an opening date of May 27, 2022.
- The new attraction will open with a virtual queue.
- Guests can purchase an individual Lightning Lane entry to the attraction. Walt Disney World Resort will use variable pricing to determine the cost of the individual Lightning Lane. You can find pricing and an individual Lightning Lane entry in the My Disney Experience app via the Disney Genie service on the same day of your visit.
- Currently, Disney Parks says there will no standby queue option.
- For those with little ones, the height requirement is 42 inches or taller. For perspective, Test Track and Soarin’ Around the World are both 40 inches or taller.
How to Reserve a Ride
Starting at 7 a.m. on the day of your Disney Park Pass Reservation for EPCOT, you will be able to request access to the virtual queue through the My Disney Experience app. You can check before you leave your WDW Resort hotel or on the way to the park.
If you aren’t able to book a ride earlier in the day, a second opportunity to join the virtual queue will open at 1 p.m. This option is available ONLY to guests already inside EPCOT.
Also, each person can only enter the virtual queue once per day during regular park hours.
Note that joining the virtual queue does not guarantee you’ll be able to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This is a simple process, however, the other two rides that used the virtual queue (Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT) process sold out of boarding passes in seconds.
I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if we look at the history of WDW virtual queues, you will see Cast Members do their best to get everyone on the new ride but there is no accounting for ride delays that might occur during the day.
For instance, if you snag boarding group number 185 and a storm comes through in the afternoon that shuts down the ride or the ride breaks down for an hour or so, they may only get to boarding group 180 by the time the park closes.
TravelingDad Tip: If this happens, seek out a Cast Member. They may be able to work some Disney magic.
The Bottom Line
There was quite a lot of storytelling in a short amount of time. This is my biggest issue with the experience. There is so much detail and nuisance in these short sequences it is easy to miss something crucial to the reason you’re on the ride.
It was difficult to understand why Eson wanted to destroy Earth let alone how he knew the Nova Corps device would accomplish his goal. There is such thought and cleaver writing throughout the storyline that to have this character randomly come in, grab Earth and disappear fell flat in my opinion.
It’s just another reason to ride more than once, right?
The bottom line: After riding the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride I feel like Mickey and the Disney Imagineers have another success on their hands.
EPCOT is once again becoming a destination park. As the park’s transformation continues and the construction walls come down, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a great addition to a once heralded park.
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