Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a Marvel-themed roller coaster under construction at Epcot. This first-of-its-kind attraction is the biggest addition of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. This covers everything you need to know about the ride: when it’ll open, concept art, details, and more. (Updated April 27, 2022.)
The saga of a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at Walt Disney World dates back years. It started with rumors of a replacement for the iconic Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios a la Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout at Disneyland Resort. Then came rumors that the Marvel misfits would take over the nearby Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (an overlay that actually would’ve made a ton of sense).
Walt Disney World has since officially announced Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, replacing the dinosaurs of Universe of Energy at Epcot. Here’s everything we know about that attraction–for the latest developments, construction progress, and first ride-through video of the attraction, scroll down to the “April 27, 2022 Update” heading…
Walt Disney World has repeatedly referred to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind as the first other-world showcase pavilion at Epcot. While releasing new details about the three new neighborhoods replacing Future World, Disney shed more light on how this pavilion will fit into the park.
The former Universe of Energy Pavilion is now the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion, which will be come to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The Wonders of Xandar Pavilion will be located in the World Discovery neighborhood of Epcot.
This area will showcase science, technology, and intergalactic adventure. Other offerings in the World Discovery area of Epcot will include the Play Pavilion, Space 220 Restaurant, Mission Space, and Test Track.
According to Disney, “Epcot just may be the perfect place for a Guardians-inspired attraction — Peter Quill (aka Star Lord) actually visited Epcot as a kid!” Plenty of EPCOT Center purists might disagree with that sentiment–whether that’s a good explanation for the thematic fit or a ham-fisted attempt at shoehorning Marvel into Epcot is in the eye of the beholder.
Regardless, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 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.
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.
Walt Disney Imagineering released the above video of the the OmniCoaster ride system.
This was presumably shot on Vekoma’s test track in the Netherlands, and not on-site at Walt Disney World or even in Glendale, California.
For years, Disney stated that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind would open “in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort.” However, that has not been the case since the closure/reopening.
Walt Disney World did not offer any official statements about the opening timeline for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind for over a year after Epcot closed and reopened. Fortunately, that has changed since Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary kicked off.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the latest updates, including the official opening date…
April 27, 2022 Update
Walt Disney World has released the first official ride-through video of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot.
So embrace your inner outlaw and check out the video above for a look inside the new Wonders of Xandar pavilion at EPCOT. You’ll also get a glimpse of what happens when you’re called into action alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy to save humanity from Eson the Celestial!
(Honestly, we’re not sure whether this is a full ride-through video, just a clip of a few seconds of the attraction, or somewhere in between. We did not watch, as are very much “anti-spoilers,” especially for an attraction we’ll be experiencing for ourselves in a couple weeks.)
This E-Ticket is Epcot’s biggest addition in years, and will be the blockbuster attraction of the summer season. Expect to see a huge marketing blitz as Walt Disney World tries to draw even more tourists to the already-crowded parks.
Beyond that, Walt Disney World has already started Cast Member previews, and will soon welcome Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and other guests to enter the Galaxarium (pictured above) and experience the attraction.
Speaking of which, this planetarium-like exhibition showcases the connections between Xandar and Earth. The full Galaxarium loop will be over 30 minutes long (assuming you’re waiting in line that long–unlikely if you buy an Individual Lightning Lane), and will include Xandar, Earth, the Andromeda, Milky Way Galaxies, and Star-Lord’s iconic Awesome Mix Vol. 1!
Another development came via a story in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, there’s an interview with Imagineer Wyatt Winter.
He revealed that Cosmic Rewind will feature a “stand-alone” Guardians of the Galaxy story, inside the largest show building on Walt Disney World property. The attraction will feature digital media and the James Gunn-directed series’ signature soundtrack of pop-rock hits, all in the name of amping up the same “energy and excitement” from the films.
Winter also didn’t reveal the ride’s launch speed–or whether it features a return launch–but he did say that the overall thrill factor of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is somewhere between that of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
He also indicated that this Guardians of the Galaxy story is on a unique timeline, and has some surprises in store. Given its time-traveling theme, the attraction will combine bits of Marvel and Walt Disney World history. “Fans of both the films and Disney parks are going to find Easter eggs,” Winter promises.
During Destination D23, Disney also shared a special announcement (above) from Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close reprising her role as Nova Prime, the Xandarian leader and commander of the Nova Corps.
That’s not the only good news. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn recently revealed that Cosmic Rewind has started shooting. This shouldn’t take too long (and might already be finished!), but it was one of the other holdups for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. That should no longer be the case, either.
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.
As for the gravity building, I had a chance to see inside during the World’s Most Magical Celebration media event. My main impression is that it’s huge. Hardly a bombshell revelation, as the colossal building is visible from across World Showcase Lagoon and has been one point of contention about the attraction.
Beyond the size of the space, there’s a lot of OmniCoaster track weaving through that colossal area. For me, the amount of track was the most reassuring aspect of the visit—it’s difficult to judge from the ground, but it looks like the ride duration should be fairly satisfying.
There are also several tunnels, screens along the perimeter of the upper level of the track, a jump point, and even a large moon or planet that the OmniCoaster vehicles circle.
It’s going to be a very obscure comparison, but the whole thing reminded me of a very amped-up version of Space Fantasy — The Ride (that’s very high praise). Photos weren’t allowed inside, so you’ll just have to take my word for all of that.
When Will Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Open?
UPDATE: As indicated above, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open on May 27, 2022.
There’s no point in reading what follows now that Walt Disney World has officially announced the debut date. We’re leaving it here for the sake of posterity.
Finally, there’s the question of when Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open. As noted above, Walt Disney World has revealed the nebulous “Summer 2022” timeframe. Technically, that means any time from June 21 through September 22, 2022.
Typically, that’s not how Walt Disney World’s seasons work. Rather than following the Farmer’s Almanac (or wherever those dates are derived), Disney uses the ‘colloquial calendar’ that defines summer in the United States as Memorial Day through Labor Day.
There’s every reason to believe that Disney will open Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind when it’s strategically most advantageous. Officially, the World’s Most Magical Celebration will last 18 months, through March 2023.
The 18-month anniversary celebration gives Walt Disney World the chance to do something of a soft reset about halfway through, “amping up” the festivities with new attractions and entertainment. This will incentivize visitors who already experienced the first half of the celebration to come back, and will also lure new guests. That halfway reset will likely be headlined by Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Halfway through the 50th Anniversary Celebration would be roughly May 2022. Memorial Day weekend would make sense, as would early June 2022.
This would also align with test rides already having started for Walt Disney World leaders, and the fact that Cast Members are being recruited for the opening team.
It’s also consistent with past precedent. Of the recent additions with summer openings at Walt Disney World, Pandora – World of Avatar debuted on May 27 and Toy Story Land opened on June 30.
It’s also worth noting that Pandora had extensive registration-only previews for APs and DVC prior to that in May. The same was true for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure last fall. The latter was a savvy move by Disney, as it got locals and diehard fans to Epcot at a time that was otherwise uncrowded. The lead-up to Memorial Day is similarly an attendance lull, so lengthy previews might likewise be strategically advantageous.
In our view, an official opening around Memorial Day or the weekend thereafter makes much more sense than debuting in July through September, which is almost entirely unprecedented. Usually, July bookings are strong regardless, with things dropping off in mid-August through September as schools go back into session.
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. As such, we’d expect a June 2022 opening at the latest to take full advantage of this marketing potential.
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 beyond “Summer 2022.”
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 Lightning Lane 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!