How to Ride Guardians of Galaxy Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Strategy

Walt Disney World’s hottest new attraction is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT. It’s also the most difficult due to no standby line. In this ride guide, we’ll answer questions about the virtual queue, boarding groups, and FAQ about the Marvel blockbuster. (Updated August 14, 2022.)

A comprehensive ‘how to’ guide for a single ride might seem excessive. After all, isn’t it just a matter of “lining up, waiting, and sitting down”?! Unfortunately, it is not. Instead, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind uses protocol and procedures that debuted a couple of years ago for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and were further fine-tuned with the debut of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure last year.

All of this has been confusing even for longtime Walt Disney World fans, so our goal here is to help you avoid similar frustrations. If you simply show up to EPCOT at park opening and think you’re going to be able to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, you’re in for colossal disappointment. To the contrary, you’re almost guaranteed you won’t be riding if you “only” show up at the official opening time. Hence this ride guide and FAQ, so you can plan accordingly, beat the crowds, and have an incredibly efficient day in EPCOT…

Before we dig in, one final note: Walt Disney World tinkers with virtual queues regularly. If past precedent is any indication, the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue process will “evolve” over the summer, and will end up differing–or not existing at all–by Fall 2022.

In fact, exactly that has already happened. Here’s our on-the-ground report of how things have changed, based on our firsthand experience entering the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue over one dozen times since the ride debuted…

August 14, 2022 Virtual Queue Status Report

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has now been open for over two full months at EPCOT, and the virtual queue is going surprisingly well. Above and below are a series of screenshots taken starting at 1 pm, showing the progression of boarding groups and wait time.

The most notable aspect of these screenshots? There’s availability long after 1 pm!!! In the past, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance filled up within seconds of the virtual queue opening. By contrast, Cosmic Rewind has availability minutes later, meaning this is not a de facto lottery. Pretty much anyone can join who is in EPCOT at or around 1 pm.

After seeing availability for the afternoon drop for several hours on occasions earlier in August 2022 while the 7 am virtual queue filled in under 5 seconds, it appears that Walt Disney World has done a “rebalancing” of sorts.

The 7 am has been lasting slightly longer from what we’ve seen in the last week, sometimes remaining open for around 30 seconds. (Other days, it’s only lasted 6 seconds, so it’s definitely not consistently longer.) Either way, this is still an incredibly slim margin for error. If the app freezes or crashes–two things that happen frequently–you’ll still be out of luck until 1 pm.

We knew Cosmic Rewind would be a reliable ride with relatively high capacity and minimal downtime (by the standards of a new attraction), but we didn’t expect it to be this good. This is fantastic news for anyone who has been stressed out about scoring a spot in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue. Right now at least, anyone who makes an attempt around 1 pm will be able to obtain a boarding group. Even if you have technical difficulties or slow fingers, that shouldn’t matter.

Like anything, that’s subject to change. There were times when this happened with both Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and then both went back to filling up in milliseconds. Attendance levels make all of the difference, so if crowds increase, this will absolutely go back to being super competitive–so don’t get complacent with the speed strategy.

Another strong possibility heading into offseason is that the virtual queue will be retired completely for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Last year on September 16, Walt Disney World made the announcement that it would “pause” the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, effective September 23.

Disney left the door open for bringing back that virtual queue during the busy holiday season, but that never happened. Last fall was particularly slow and this year likely won’t be a repeat of that, so it’s possible Disney won’t retire this virtual queue quite yet. However, Cosmic Rewind is also much more reliable than Rise of the Resistance.

With the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue now relatively easy to enter at 1 pm, the attraction does not need a virtual queue. (Not that we’re complaining–not having to wait in a long line is so nice!) As such, it’s our expectation that the boarding group system is retired very soon. In fact, we’re expecting an announcement from Walt Disney World any day now.

Schools went back into session last week and crowds are starting to slow down, so there’s really no reason to wait until mid-September to make the change. (Last year, Walt Disney World was juggling a lot of operational changes with the launch of Genie+ and start of the 50th.) With off-season now here, switching to standby in the coming weeks makes complete sense. If that change isn’t made soon, it’s likely that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will keep its virtual queue until mid-January 2023, which marks the start of the next off-season.

If you want all of the latest updates on the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue–or notification when the ride’s standby line is announced–subscribe to our free Walt Disney World email newsletter. We also share other news and on-the-ground reports from the parks, when discounts are released, and much more.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT…

How to Enter the Cosmic Rewind Virtual Queue

What is the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind?

The virtual queue is the sole system for accessing Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

Rather than a standby line, you join this virtual line via the My Disney Experience (MDX) app and are notified when it’s your turn to ride. The process requires a few clicks in-app, but it’s pretty intuitive.

What are boarding groups for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind?

Boarding groups are the means of organizing guests into groups when it’s their turn to ride.

For example, rather than having a set 3-4 pm return time, you might be in boarding group 55. Your return time is not specified in advance, but rather, based upon how quickly the attraction cycles the guests through who are in front of you in the virtual queue. (Plus how many or few times it breaks down.)

When can we enter the virtual queue?

One new positive change Disney has made since reopening is multiple ‘drop times’ for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue boarding passes.

You can join the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue at 7 am or 1 pm via the My Disney Experience app. There’s also a 6 pm virtual queue entry time for eligible guests on days with Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT.

What is the process like for joining the virtual queue?

The steps are identical to past virtual queues and similar to the FastPass+ or Genie+ selection processes, if you’ve done either of those.

Here’s a quick run-through:

Start by hitting the hamburger button on the lower right corner of the My Disney Experience app.

From there, select the “Virtual Queues” tile.

Then “Join Virtual Queue.”

There’s a shortcut from the home screen on My Disney Experience if you just scroll down a little bit. Sometimes all of the tiles take a bit to load on here after you first open the app. (It appears above your PhotoPass images.)

You’ll have the option of confirming your party starting at 6 am, or an hour before the virtual queue opens.

Click the blue button to confirm your party, ensuring that everyone visiting with you is selected for the virtual queue. So long as tickets are properly linked and everyone has a Disney Park Pass reservation for Epcot, this process should be smooth sailing and self-explanatory.

Once you confirm your party, you’ll see the above screen until 7 am.

Use the “fast finger” strategy below to get the timing right, and then either hit the refresh button or pull down to refresh at 7 am on the dot. You’ll then see the “Join Queue” button. Tap that and you’re done!

This shows your estimate waiting time, which will be several hours into the future (and not necessarily accurate) at 7 am since EPCOT isn’t even open yet.

Once the park is open, this same screen will show you which boarding groups have been called plus a more accurate estimate wait time. Even then, return times can fluctuate based on downtime and other factors.

Once it’s your turn to join the physical queue, you’ll receive a notification (if you’ve allowed the My Disney Experience app to send notifications). You can also see your virtual queue status towards the top of your My Disney Experience home screen, as well as on the virtual queue page itself.

With that said, there’s no substitute for seeing for yourself. While it won’t let you complete the process, you can go through the first several steps of joining the virtual queue from home. Be on the MDX app some morning right at 7 am and go through the motions. It’s good practice for the real thing!

Next, we’ll cover some techniques to improve your speed and increase your chances of success at the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue!

Virtual Queue Speed Strategy

Disney WiFi v. Cellular Data?

It really depends on your carrier and where you’re located in the park/resort/etc.

We’d recommend doing a quick speed test with both a few minutes before it’s time to join the virtual queue. Anything at or above 50 Mbps should be sufficient, but the higher the better. If necessary, move around to get away from other people or increase your speed to that threshold.

Are there any ways to improve speed?

Obviously, there’s only so much that’s within your control when it comes to your internet speed at Walt Disney World. With that said, two big things are getting away from congested areas and out from under things. Some lower-level Walt Disney World hotel rooms have issues, so for the 7 am entry time, you might want to go outside, to the lobby, the balcony, an exterior walkway, etc.

When it comes to the 1 pm entry time, avoid congested areas of the parks. If at all possible, attempt to join while not standing in line for anything else, as some queues have ‘dead zones’ without WiFi or cellular service. (Soarin’ and Rise of the Resistance are notorious for this, but you might have weak/no signal at other attractions, too.)

How should we prepare for joining the virtual queue?

This might sound like overkill, but milliseconds matter.

Make sure your phone is fully updated and force close all apps, including My Disney Experience shortly before it’s time to join the virtual queue. Double-check the time on your phone or watch against time.gov, which is what Disney uses for opening the virtual queue.

What’s the best strategic approach for joining a boarding group? Should one person try for everyone, should we each try individually, or what?

Do not try individually–you won’t be in the same boarding groups, meaning you won’t ride together.

We recommend everyone try for everyone in your party. Launch the MDX app about 10 seconds before the official virtual queue entry time and hit the “Join Boarding Group” button. If that doesn’t work, force-refreshing by pulling down “hard.”

Everyone in your party who has a valid Disney Park Pass reservation for EPCOT should already be pre-selected. The person in your party with the fastest fingers will score the boarding group, while everyone else will receive a “Not So Fast/Already in Boarding Group” message. Just be sure that anyone in your party who tries for boarding passes attempts to add everyone.

Again, it’s good to do a practice run or two at home so you’re comfortable with the process in the My Disney Experience app so you don’t get flustered and mess up. We’ve heard horror stories of readers clicking through too quickly and forgetting to add one of their family members. Don’t freak out if that happens–go to the Guest Experience Team Cast Members stationed at the blue umbrellas.

What if not everyone in my party is pre-selected?

During the process of joining the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue, everyone in your party who has a Park Pass reservation for EPCOT and/or has tapped into the park (as applicable) should already be pre-selected. However, you have the option to hit “Change Party” before tapping the “Join Virtual Queue” button.

Our strong advice is not mess with this–don’t even check whether they are or are not in your party–simply to click “Join Virtual Queue” as fast as possible. Pausing for even a second to review this screen can doom your chances of success. If, for some reason, someone in your party was not selected, see a Cast Member at the Guest Experience Team stands (look for the blue umbrella) in the park. Adding one person to an existing boarding group is a problem they can fix. No one in your party getting boarding groups because you hesitated or didn’t join due to an error is not a problem they can fix.

Once notified that “your group has been called!” how long do we have to return to Cosmic Rewind? 

You’re expected to return within 1 hour of being called.

Do we need to be in the park for the 1 pm virtual queue opening?

No. However, everyone in your party does need to enter EPCOT at some point before 1 pm in order to “unlock” access to the virtual queue at 1 pm. Meaning you could arrive for park opening, take the Skyliner back to your hotel for lunch and a pool break, and try again at 1 pm.

It is not geofenced or based upon proximity—this functionality unlocks in the My Disney Experience app for each guest after they have physically tapped into the park’s tap/turnstiles. You can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever.

You could literally be inside EPCOT or in Eugene, Oregon. The system only validates whether you’ve tapped into EPCOT, not your current location. It can actually be advantageous to leave EPCOT midday, as that’s when crowds and wait times are worst.

Anything else we can do pre-vacation to improve chances of success?

As with every other theme park at Walt Disney World, you’ll need to start by booking a Park Pass reservation before visiting EPCOT, usually at least several weeks in advance. Although attendance limits have increased, Walt Disney World is still operating below full capacity due to staffing shortages.

With that said, if/when that’s addressed and capacity increases further (or pent-up demand dies down), park reservations could become more of a formality with ample same-day availability for every park. (This is not typically the case right now, so the following advice only applies if booking Park Passes becomes easier in the coming months.)

If you don’t mind monitoring the Disney Park Pass reservations calendar, consider booking multiple days at EPCOT. Even if you’re only going to do the park one day, it’s savvy strategy to book reservations for EPCOT on your Animal Kingdom day in addition to your dedicated EPCOT day.

With the 7 am entry time, it’s possible to attempt to score Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind boarding passes from outside the park before you start your day. If you’re unsuccessful, you can change your Disney Park Pass reservations day-of to Animal Kingdom subject to availability.

Again, we must emphasize that this is not pertinent as of Summer 2022. Right now, reservations are filling up almost every day and there’s a lot of risk in getting “stuck” with multiple EPCOT reservations if you attempt this. Nevertheless, keep an eye on the Disney Park Pass availability calendar and switch in advance if this looks like it’s becoming an option around your travel dates.

Common Cosmic Rewind Ride & VQ Questions

Is there any other way to ride Cosmic Rewind? 

Yes.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will use a virtual queue and also offer paid Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) access. It’s likely the latter will sell out within minutes–maybe even seconds–of 7 am, supplanting Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as the most popular Individual Lightning Lane in all of Walt Disney World.

In general, we’re not fans of paying extra for ILLs, but Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind could end up being an exception to that general rule. Our updated Individual Lightning Lane Info & Tips post has more info about this paid line-skipping option.

Which is easier, the virtual queue or buying an Individual Lightning Lane? 

That depends on whether you’re staying on-site or off-site.

If you’re on-site, buying an Individual Lightning Lane will be easier, since you can do that starting at 7 am. If you’re off-site, the virtual queue will be easier, since you cannot purchase Individual Lightning Lanes until park opening. They are long gone by then.

Is it possible to score a spot in the virtual queue and purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Cosmic Rewind?

There’s nothing that prevents it aside from how quickly both book up–meaning that there’s no policy preventing you from double-dipping that way. However, it can be a challenge juggling both right at 7:00:00 am–unless you have one person in your party “assigned” to each.

Another alternative is doing the virtual queue first, and then waiting for a refill of the Individual Lightning Lane for Cosmic Rewind. See Ride Reservation Refill Rules at Walt Disney World for timing on when these typically occur.

Can we get more than one boarding pass per day?

Not during regular park hours–you cannot join both the 7 am and 1 pm virtual queue.

However, on nights when EPCOT hosts Extended Evening Hours, there’s a third virtual queue entry time at 6 pm. You can join at one of the earlier times and again at 6 pm for the bonus hours after normal park closing time.

What happens if we have an Advance Dining Reservation that conflicts with our return time?

Ideally, you should see a Cast Member at the Guest Experience Team stands (look for the blue umbrella) located throughout the park. They can assist with scheduling conflicts.

Failing that, see a Cast Member at the attraction entrance–they are typically pretty flexible.

What time does Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind run out of boarding passes?

There is no set time, but expect it to occur by literally 7:00:05 am and 1:00:05 pm each day during most of the year. That’s what happened with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Going forward, we expect this trend will continue with Cosmic Rewind.

Does everyone have to be present to join or can we send one ‘runner’ to the park?

For the 7 am entry, the only requirement is a valid Disney Park Pass reservation. Since EPCOT isn’t open at that hour, entering the park isn’t even possible for that.

For the 1 pm entry, everyone in your party must tap into EPCOT before they’re eligible to join the VQ.

What if we’re all near the park?

Nope.

It’s not based upon proximity–this functionality only unlocks in the My Disney Experience app once you physically tap into the park’s tap/turnstiles. It’s worth noting that you can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever. The system only validates whether you’ve tapped in, not your current location.

Can we leave the park once joining the queue?

Yes. You could go back to your resort and take a nap, eat lunch, etc.

How do we know when we can return?

If your phone has push notifications for My Disney Experience enabled, you’ll receive an alert that your boarding group has been called.

Failing that, the “My Status” screen on the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind screen displays the same information.

Does Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind accommodate Disability Access Service (DAS) card?

Yes, but this is still truly first come, first served.

That means everyone must join the virtual queue first, which means arriving and going through that just like everyone else. To take advantage of DAS, go to the Lightning Lane return line once your boarding group is called.

What about Rider Switch?

Yep, same process as above.

How long is the average wait once in the physical line?

Assuming nothing breaks down and the attraction didn’t just return from being down, around 20-40 minutes.

Boarding groups are fairly small in size, so if you get lucky and return at the “right” time, most of the queue will be empty and you’ll practically walk on the attraction. Time it poorly and things can back up quite a bit, and you might be in a line that’s closer to an hour long. We’ve been in line when the ride breaks down and ended up having to wait over 2 hours.

What time does EPCOT allow on-site guests to enter the park?

For the summer, expect EPCOT to continue moving forward its opening time to 8:30 am, which means Early Entry will begin officially at 8:00 am. Unofficially, the park opens even earlier, and it’s possible to do Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After with short waits if you’re arriving via International Gateway.

Our recent Early Entry at EPCOT: Better Than Genie+ covers this in step-by-step detail. This is great strategy to pair with successfully scoring boarding groups for Cosmic Rewind.

Should we buy Park Hopper tickets?

If you’ve read our Money-Saving Walt Disney World Ticket Guide, you know that we typically recommend Park Hopper tickets. They allow you to bounce around, which is strategically advantageous.

For guests who really want to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, we recommend booking Park Pass reservations for at least two days at EPCOT. As with the above day-of switcheroo above, you might consider reserving 2 days at EPCOT and 0 days at DHS—and plan on sticking with those reservations at least one of the days.

Morning at EPCOT and evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the best way to experience both parks if you want to enjoy lower crowds and shorter wait times. This isn’t just personal preference–it’s strategically superior given normal operating hours and the fact that Fantasmic still has not returned. (EPCOT does have a nighttime spectacular–the relatively new Harmonious–that’s worth seeing one of those nights.)

For this reason, we highly recommend purchasing Park Hopper tickets right now. Read about what to expect and why in our Guide to Park Hopping at Walt Disney World.

Which days of the week are best for visiting EPCOT?

Our normal advice is to avoid EPCOT on weekends, but that has nothing to do with better success at the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue. Rather, it’s because locals descend on World Showcase to drink and snack around the lagoon on weekends, grazing and imbibing from the food booths.

With that said, we’d also avoid EPCOT on weekends if you want to improve your odds of success with the virtual queue. This is because locals are more likely to be skilled and experienced at doing virtual queues, making them tougher “competition” than the average first-timer or infrequent tourist. It’s like playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers instead of a little league team. (Not that your family should go around trouncing kids at baseball, but you get the idea!)

What time can off-site guests enter EPCOT?

At the officially published park opening time–so 8:30 am for most dates in the next couple of months.

Does arriving to EPCOT for park opening matter? 

Not for the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue.

It’s always good practice to show up early, as that’s when normal attractions (the ones with standby lines) will have their shortest wait times of the day.

Is it safe to rely on Walt Disney World transportation for getting to EPCOT in time for park opening?

Yes.

If you’re staying at one of the Crescent Lake resorts, it’s easiest just to walk to EPCOT. For other resorts, the buses and Skyliner are also once again reliable for arriving at park opening. Still, guests who stay at BoardWalk, Yacht & Beach Club, and Swan & Dolphin should walk rather than using boats. Walking is far and away the fastest and best way to arrive in the morning.

Should we just wait to do Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind until our 2023 Walt Disney World trip?

Although the virtual queue creates winners and losers, if you’ve already read the 3,000+ words above, you’re much more likely to be one of the winners. You are far better positioned than 95% of other guests–many of whom arrive without knowing what a virtual queue even is or when it’s offered–and are more likely to succeed in scoring a boarding group. With a virtual queue, your wait time will be significantly shorter than if you just wait until 2023 or whenever the virtual queue is replaced with a standby line.

You’ve already learned what to do and how to do it–now put that knowledge to use!

Is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind worth jumping through all of these hoops?

Again, once you experience the virtual queue in person, it’s really not that difficult.

Moreover, as we write in our spoiler-free Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Review, this is one of Walt Disney World’s most fun attractions. It’s absolutely worth the effort.

When will this all die down?

Never? Maybe when your kids have kids?

Flight of Passage is just as popular today as it was when it debuted ~5 years ago. Ditto Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance nearly 3 years after its debut. Marvel is a similarly popular property and this is an addition to EPCOT, a park that’s perpetually starved of rides. While it’s likely that the virtual queue will last less than a year, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will have long wait times and require effective strategy for years to come.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Do you have any questions this FAQ failed to answer? If you’ve done Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, do you think there’s anything else first-timers should know? Do you agree or disagree with any of our advice or answers? Any questions? 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!

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