First announced over 4 years ago, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be a new indoor roller coaster ride for EPCOT at Walt Disney World. Based on the characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the ride will feature rotating coaster cars, a backwards launch, and of course, some good music.
But when will it be opening, and just how thrilling will it be? Will the ride feature any show scenes or animatronics? Let’s dig into those questions and more, as we explore everything we think we know about the Guardians coaster. Be sure to see the video version of this story for additional visuals.
First announced in 2017 at the D23 Expo, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which closed just a month after the official announcement.
The new roller coaster attraction was originally scheduled to open by 2021, in time for the resort’s 50th anniversary, but it was delayed as construction was slowed due to the global health crisis. Construction has picked up this year however, and despite the entrance exterior and queue areas looking unfinished, rumors say that the roller coaster ride system itself has been ready for months.
The ride is located within what used to be known as Future World East inside of EPCOT. Disney is retiring the Future World name in favor of new lands, which they’re calling neighborhoods. The Guardians coaster is going to be part of “World Discovery,” where “guests will go on journeys of science, technology, space, and adventure.”
The new ride is reusing the old Universe of Energy Pavilion structure, but it was completely gutted (and partially rebuilt supposedly because it was in worse shape than they thought,) but the main attraction itself is placed in a gigantic building built behind it. This massive structure is 140 feet tall, and supposedly has the volume to hold 4 Spaceship Earths inside.
The original structure, which you will enter the attraction through, is being themed as a “Xandarian Outpost,” with a Nova Corp ship in front. Early concept art had the Guardian’s ship, The Milano, parked on the roof, but we’ll instead be seeing that later on inside. In a nod to the original Energy Pavilion, solar panels are rumored to be installed along the roof.
The original pavilion structure is expected to house most of the attraction’s queue, as well as preshows, and the coaster load and unload areas.
Keeping with the tradition of EPCOT attractions, the ride is expected to contain some educational aspect. A press release from Marvel says: “…since this is Epcot, expect to find some real-world information about space and beyond in the preshow queue.”
Regarding the ride’s queue areas and story, Disney says: “The adventure starts in the Galaxarium, a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar.” Xandar is a planet seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. It’s rumored that Peter Quill himself may have suggested EPCOT for their new outpost, since he has fond memories of visiting the theme park as a child, although this is unconfirmed.
We could see the queue’s planetarium-like dome areas taking shape last year, and it looked similar to the concept art. This queue area then leads into the preshow, where the Guardians of the Galaxy show up and interrupt our lesson.
In concept art we can see the group’s ship, as well as Rocket and Groot. While originally we had hoped that these would be animatronic figures, like Rocket on Mission Breakout’s preshow in California, instead, new information suggests it will be a pepper’s ghost type projection effect, similar to the preshow for Web Slingers. (Not only are there no animatronics rumored for the preshow, there are no animatronics rumored for the main ride as well.)
Despite earlier reports that filmed segments for the attraction were already shot during the production of Thor: Love and Thunder, tweets  by the Guardians films director seem to indicate that shooting for the ride will happen during the filming of the third film this fall, which will be the next time the cast will all be together. It’s not yet known whether filmed segments will also appear on the ride, or will be shot specifically for the preshow only.
And speaking of the ride, it’s said to have been manufactured by Vekoma, and estimates put the total track length at at least 5000 feet. If true, that would make it the longest indoor roller coaster in the world.
Disney has patented a rotating coaster car design for the attraction. This ride vehicle, which they’ve called an “OmniCoaster,” can be rotated to face any direction with precision, and is not a freely rotating coaster car.
The attraction is still considered a coaster however, as it will use gravity to move about the track. The powered element of the train is specifically for rotating the seats, which will not only be used to face guests towards story elements, but to also add an element of thrill.
Which leads us to the thrills. The ride is rumored to start with a brief show scene, (perhaps screen based,) where we move into essentially a dead end facing the action of the scene. Then we’ll be suddenly launched BACKWARDS up an incline, moving into the large show building. Disney has confirmed that the first launch into the main section of the ride will be backwards, and that may tie into the name, “Cosmic Rewind.”
A couple official photos have been released showing some of the interior of this huge building. The photo above appears to show the entry and exit points for the ride at the back of the image. It’s worth noting that this photo is still only showing a portion of the full ride, and not the full scope of the circuit.
The hand-drawn possible track layouts above were originally posted to the WDWMagic forums, but they don’t tell us much about the ride experience. Rumors say that there will be screen and projection elements located in multiple spots, including one large curved screen surface rumored to be just behind where this photo was taken. Popular music selections from the Guardians of the Galaxy films will also add life to this attraction.
This roller coaster is NOT expected to go upside-down at all. While the speeds will be faster than something like Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, it is not expected to be as thrilling as something like Rockin’ Roller Coaster at the resort. Perhaps the thrill level will be somewhere in between. Having a launch that goes up an incline is already going to dampen the effects of the speed, as compared to Rockin’s flat forward launch.
Rumors originally had the story for this attraction bringing us back in time, and while some hoped that meant we were going to see an older version of EPCOT from the 1980s, the reality is it appears we’ll be going all the way back to the Big Bang. (The piggy bank? The ding dang?)
According to the spiel on the EPCOT monorail line, we’ll be “rocketing back to the big bang” on the ride. This could explain the concept of the backwards launch after that first show scene. It’s also worth pointing out that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Infinity Stones were created in the big bang. This could be a way to tie an educational element to a story element from the film series.
And Disney is touting this attraction as a “story coaster,” so we should expect some level of storytelling. The exit point for the coaster leaving the large show building even appears to be themed as a jump point, as seen in the films for creating wormholes for interstellar travel.
While we don’t know that much about the complete experience on the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, James Gunn, director of the Guardians films, has said on Instagram that it’s “Utterly mind-blowing. I mean it. You guys are going to freak out. It’s incredible.” Gunn also admitted to having a small hand in the development of the attraction.
While it was originally intended to open in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, which is October 1st of this year, the ride is now expected to open DURING the 18-month anniversary celebration. That means it could technically open any time from October 2021 to April 2023. Most people believe it will open some time in 2022 though.
We may learn more about the Guardians coaster, and the rest of the changes going on at EPCOT, in the coming months. They may even announce more details at the Destination D event this November, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
That’s all for now, but be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals. And stay tuned right here for more news and rumors from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
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A concerned reader
“Having a launch that goes up an incline is already going to dampen the effects of the speed, as compared to Rockin’s flat forward launch.”
Launching up and incline doesn’t even remotely dampen the forces- it increases them.