Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a Marvel-themed roller coaster under construction at Epcot. This attraction will be the first of its kind at Walt Disney World, and is one of the biggest additions for the 50th Anniversary. This covers everything you need to know about the ride: when it’s likely to open (and whether it’ll bedelayed), concept art, and answers to frequently asked questions about this upcoming WDW thrill ride.
The saga of a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at Walt Disney World dates back many years, well before its official announcement. First, there were rumors that it would replace the Twilight Zone theme of the iconic Tower of Terror attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That didn’t come to fruition in Florida, but it did in California with Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout (an attraction that is, frankly, better than it has any right to be).
Then there were rumors that the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction would replace the nearby Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (an overlay that actually would’ve made a ton of sense). That never gained much traction, and seemed to fizzle out pretty quickly. Finally, rumors settled on the Marvel misfits replacing the dinosaurs of Universe of Energy. That rumor ended up being confirmed two D23 Expos ago, with the reveal of a roller coaster based on Guardians of the Galaxy…
At the time, specifics were sparse. Disney merely released some concept art and revealed that Epcot’s next new E-ticket attraction will be based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy and is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Among EPCOT Center purists, it was already a controversial decision, but one specific line in the announcement was like salt in the wound: “Epcot just may be the perfect place for a Guardians-inspired attraction – Peter Quill (aka Star Lord) actually visited Epcot as a kid!”
For regular readers, it’s no secret that I’m an EPCOT Center purist. I’m skeptical of Guardians of the Galaxy fitting with the mission statement and goals of Epcot, but I have accepted the reality of what the future holds for the park. Hopefully, this attraction is shoehorned in via the queue and pre-show.
Regardless, this is an info post aimed at addressing frequently asked questions about Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, not another chance for me to rehash my Epcot edutainment editorial. (If you care, my thoughts on the attraction are here–they’re pretty much unchanged since the ride was first rumored.)
Since the initial announcement, Walt Disney World has slowly revealed more and more about Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Here’s everything else we know, along with recent construction photos and all concept art released to date…
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be located in the new World Discovery area of Epcot, which will showcase science, technology, and intergalactic adventure. Other attractions in this section of the park will include the Play Pavilion, Mission Space, and Test Track.
Construction has now progressed to the interior of the main attraction building, which is the former Universe of Energy attraction building. As the exterior nears completion and solar panels are reinstalled on the roof, a bypass path now routes guests from the front of Epcot past Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
This building is quite large–the previous attraction was 45 minutes long, but this building will only be home to the queue, pre-show, load/unload, and opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
In addition to this main entrance and exit, there is a large gravity building located backstage near Epcot’s parking lot. The set-up here is similar to that of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which also launches into a hidden gravity or show building.
The main difference here is that this towering show building for the main roller coaster segments of the attraction is visible throughout Epcot. Despite being painted shades of “blend-in blue” and “go-away green,” it competes with Spaceship Earth for attention.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first other-world showcase pavilion at Epcot. 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.
The conceit is that the Nova Corps have arrived on earth (that’s a Star Blaster parked out front) and are inviting guests to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share. The premise is likely to be that the main building houses a science museum type exhibition.
In the teaser video for the attraction in Epcot Experience, a recorded video of a Xandarian welcomes earthlings to the installation before being interrupted by Rocket Raccoon for being boring. (When the feed is restored, we hear the Xandarian say, “…and now you know the secret of the universe.”)
The expectation is that the actual attraction will play out along these lines, with the pre-show involving an edutainment component that pays homage to the original message of EPCOT Center. That will likely be interrupted when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, culminating in the Big Bang, and an adventure across the cosmos ensuing.
Walt Disney World is touting Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind as a “storytelling coaster,” which is to say it’s a roller coaster with show scenes. Disney has indicated that it’s a family-friendly attraction–but it’ll still probably have a height requirement.
Walt Disney Imagineering is calling this an OmniCoaster ride system, and it’s a collaboration between WDI and Vekoma, a Netherlands-based roller coaster manufacturer. Cosmic Rewind’s vehicles will be able to rotate 360 degrees and do a reverse launch–a first for Walt Disney World.
Next, the elephant in the room: Epcot’s current closure and stoppage of all construction at Walt Disney World. More specifically, how will that impact progress on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind? Worse yet, will this project be cancelled entirely or delayed significantly?
First, it’s highly unlikely that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be cancelled outright. The project is incredibly far along. Most of its budget has already been spent and the project has already been fully-funded by Disney. Of course, there are significant costs over the course of the next year to finish work, but that’s relatively insignificant as compared to what’s already been invested on R&D, the ride system, sets, and completed construction.
It should go without saying that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be delayed. Not just by however many months Walt Disney World ends up being closed, but potentially longer as Disney picks up the proverbial pieces of this devastating event and reestablishes a sense of normalcy. No one knows how long that will or could take.
One thing that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has going for it is its stature and drawing power. Epcot will absolutely need a shot in the arm–something that is major and marketable. Going forward, festivals will likely be an insufficient attendance buoy, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is not going to be buzz-worthy.
In our view, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a trio of attractions least likely to be negatively impacted by the closure. The general park-going public will probably love it, and it’ll generate a lot of publicity (including the free kind) for the Walt Disney World park most in need of it.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has a ton of marketing potential. It could convince Marvel enthusiasts (and there are a lot of them) to not just visit Epcot, but to book Walt Disney World trips. That alone could be what ends up getting Cosmic Rewind fast-tracked. Between that and the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it’s highly likely that we see the attraction debut by 2022.
For its part, Disney has consistently stated that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open “in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.” However, that was before all of this. Since the closure, Walt Disney World has (unsurprisingly) not offered any official statements about construction, future projects, or anything else.
Our bet is that Walt Disney World will simply modify Cosmic Rewind’s opening timeframe to something along the lines of, “debuting during the 50th Anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World Resort.” If the festivities last 18-24 months (as anticipated), this means that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind could open any time before Fall 2023 and comport with that.
We remain (perhaps foolishly) optimistic about the timeline for this project. Our original prediction was that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind would debut on May 26, 2021. That date was the sweet spot towards the end of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival and start of Diet Epcot. However, that date is now probably out the window. On or around October 1, 2021 remains a possibility, and if I had to guess a date, that’d be it.
Of course, a lot could happen and change between now and then. It’s thus impossible to make any sort of credible predictions about when Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open. It could be as early as Fall 2021, or as late as Summer 2023. The longer the current closure extends and the more devastating its economic consequences, the more likely Summer 2022 or later becomes. Suffice to say, a lot still remains to be seen.
Whenever it does open, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will instantly blast into the #1 attraction spot at Epcot. Regardless of how we might feel about how it fits into Epcot (both thematically and physically), this is undeniably a blockbuster attraction with a colossal budget and a ride system that’s likely to give it wide appeal to guests of all ages.
In short, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is likely to be a crowd-pleasing attraction that wows guests with both its thrills and technology, plus its layer of Imagineered detail and storytelling, plus popular music and the irreverence of these Marvel misfits. It’ll likely rival Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Tron Lightcycle Run, and Avatar Flight of Passage for the longest wait times and most coveted FastPass+ selections in all of Walt Disney World.
Are you excited for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind? If you’re also an EPCOT Center purist, are you apprehensive that this will fit the park, or do you think the storyline and pre-show will sufficiently weave things together? When do you predict that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open? Do you agree or disagree with any of our thoughts? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!