Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Coming to Epcot!
UPDATE: Walt Disney World has announced that a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is coming to Epcot, with the popular Marvel characters getting a big budget ride replacing Universe of Energy.
The project is now under construction with an anticipated opening date of Fall 2021. You can see progress on the gigantic show building in our monthly updates on the biggest construction projects at Walt Disney World.
Beyond that, not many official details are known about the ride. It’s expected to be a hybrid coaster, and if the show building’s size is any indication, it’ll be massive.
Note: what follows is info from prior to the official announcement, including a rundown of the rumors and permits about the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction…
As outlandish as this sounds, the rumblings of late have been that Guardians of the Galaxy would be replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure, in a totally new build, or a partial expansion of the existing building (not exactly sure how that would be accomplished). There were even height balloons spotted, giving further credence to the ‘new build’ rumors.
Additionally, Disney filed with the South Florida Water Management District to re-route the canal behind Universe of Energy, and create two new retention ponds. The permits reason for the work is “for possible future changes to parking capacity and back of house areas.”
You might be thinking: “a water permit, so what?” That’s definitely one way to look at it. Even if the Guardians of the Galaxy project were dead, it’s possible Disney would still go forward in filing this permit. However, the permit mentions the addition of construction trailers, and contains a huge boundary (see below) that includes the Universe of Energy building.
Disney is well aware that fans are watching the construction permits it files, and after having the gondola story leak out before Walt Disney World was ready to announce it, it’s also possible the company is getting (even more) vague with permits.
It’s also possible that is for a project other than Guardians of the Galaxy. Universe of Energy is well past its prime and due a replacement regardless, and this could be setting the table for whatever is to come. As we reported in our 8 Huge Epcot Rumors post, a lot is on the table right now for the park, and Imagineering seems to be in “Blue Sky Overdrive” for a reimagining of the park.
Whatever is happening with Universe of Energy, I do not think it’s some simple canal work. This is the precursor to something bigger. Hopefully we’ll hear what that “something” is at the D23 Expo in a couple months.
I don’t care how much lipstick you put on it or layers of backstory are flung onto the walls of the queue and post-show, a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster has no place in Future World. These characters are an inorganic fit for Future World, and any attraction featuring them necessarily will be shoehorned into Epcot.
If what follows sounds familiar, it’s because this is becoming somewhat of a refrain from me with each rumor or announcement that amounts to thematic denigration by management that either doesn’t understand or care (or both) about the distinct, overarching themes of parks and lands.
I can already anticipate the responses defending the addition of this roller coaster (or any potential Guardians of the Galaxy attraction): that Ellen’s Energy Adventure is stale, that Future World is stale, that the edutainment component of the original EPCOT Center has failed. I would agree with all of those premises.
However, before I agree to any conclusions that might follow from said premises, I’d add more to that: Disney ignored Epcot for decades, shoehorning things where they didn’t belong, and letting the park stagnate. As such, my ultimate conclusion would not be that Epcot needs thrill rides or a new mission statement to be relevant.
Future World stopped being “relevant” when Disney started ignoring its mission statement, not due to that mission statement being broken. The problems Epcot faces today were not caused by its lofty ambitions, but of Disney “updating” it by shoehorning in characters and going the cheap route on keeping the park fresh. A Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is not the solution to Epcot’s problems, it’s another symptom of them.
Despite what many claim, Epcot’s mission statement is not obsolete, and learning has not suddenly become “boring.” An estimated 135 million people, including 45 million in the U.S., watched “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Americans are fixated by SpaceX’s every move, and CEO Elon Musk is treated like a rock star wherever he goes. The tech companies of Silicon Valley rank as some of the world’s most admired companies. Pop culture has made being geeky cool, and information is more accessible than ever.
No, CSPAN isn’t the most popular network on television, but most people do like to learn. If educational subjects are presented in ways that makes them fascinating, they are well received. Which, as it were, was the whole point of “edutainment” in the first place. In their heyday, the original EPCOT Center attractions resonated with guests, who learned something while being entertained.
Focusing on innovation through edutainment is not dead as a viable concept for a theme park, just as learning and being entertained are not “dead.” What isn’t viable is trotting out woefully outdated attractions, shoehorning characters into existing attractions in a half-baked manner as a bandaid, and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new attractions that are just flat out weak.
Above all else, it’s the execution that matters for an individual attraction, and how that attraction is integrated into the larger thematic tapestry of a land and park. Imagineers could make a strange attraction about a green martial artist, talking raccoon, and humanoid tree, and it could be awesome. It just depends upon the execution. Ironic that the very envelope-pushing, creative movie that proves this true is going to further obliterate Epcot’s theme as more franchises are shoved into Epcot in a way that is an inorganic fit (which is also to say that franchises could work in Future World).
The possibility of a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster in Future World is indicative of there being no vision for Epcot. Management has its eye on the next few years–and this coaster will undoubtedly be a marketing draw the first few years it’s open–with no concern for the long-term. The net result is that 10 years from now every park will look the same: like a hodgepodge of attractions not designed with theme in mind, but on the basis of which franchise could fit where in any given year. Expedition Everest needs a big refurbishment next year? Well, good news! Cars 3 has a mountain in one of its backgrounds, and it did well in the Asian markets, so it’s a perfect fit for an overlay in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
For fans, I know it might be easy to accept attractions that are poor fits, especially in Epcot, as the park has been neglected for so long. I also know there’s not exactly any love lost for Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which is long overdue for a replacement. However, that does not mean we should just gladly accept whatever. Theme still matters, and adherence to theme is part of what will be necessary to get Epcot back on track. After years of stagnation, the answer to Epcot’s problems does not lie with quick shots in the arm, but with a comprehensive vision that re-establishes its unique identity in ways that entertain and capture the imaginations of guests.
The reason so many of us are fans in the first place is because of the “Disney Difference,” or the high standards to which Disney held itself that differentiated its parks from the rest. After years of neglect, there is a lot in the pipeline right now for Walt Disney World (more on this soon…), just because we have been starved for anything new in the past does not mean we should lower our standards for what it means to be a Disney theme park.
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!
Do you agree or disagree with my take on Guardians of the Galaxy rolling into Epcot? Is Ellen’s Energy Adventure such a snoozefest that you just don’t care? Or do you “trust in Disney” to do a good job making any concept fit? Hearing from you–even if you disagree with me–is half the fun, so please share in the comments!
Honestly, I don’t think it’s that bog pf a deal. Not in the way you’re making it out to be, at least. Now, forego your arguments just for a second– I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes already and thinking “he just doesn’t get it”, but allow me, for a moment, to simply play devil’s advocate.
tl;dr: Guardians of the Galaxy has a strong link to futureworld already by being sci-fi, and could very well be a step towards getting EPCOT a large-scale upgrade while keeping its spirit alive like you would want
We’ve already seen a similar update in the World Showcase, replacing the beloved Maelstrom, which children didn’t really care for and found boring, with a Frozen ride. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the move, but I understand why they did it. The World Showcase is inherently a bit of a boring section for children, and it’s a long walk. They needed something to get their attention. Again, I don’t think Frozen was the right way to go, and I think it’s difficult to tell the history of a country and its folklore with a fictional country loosely based off of the general region. While The Three Caballeros does have a solid place in the Mexico pavilion because it IS a cultural phenomenon in Mexico and has a historic background linking it to Mexico from the moment of its conception, Frozen does not have any comparable link. It’s just popular, and its popularity really isn’t tangibly linked to Norway.
Now, Guardians of the Galaxy? I think that’s a different matter altogether. EPCOT’s futureworld has always been, paradoxically, a look into the past from the lens of present or future technology, a comparison of how far we’ve come. Over the years, that’s sort of faded with the exception of Spaceship Earth. Guardians of the Galaxy is the chance for them to do right by the park’s legacy. Yes, it’s a movie tie-in, but that’s not a bad thing. EPCOT attractions have always lived or died by their sponsorship. Guardians of the Galaxy could go one of two ways: it could circumvent the need for sponsorship by representing something as popular as Marvel, or it could easily draw in strong sponsorship which would then focus the ride on… well, what EPCOT has always been about. Just because it’s a sci-fi setting doesn’t mean it can’t connect to real world technology, it doesn’t mean it can’t explain real-world phenomena in an easily relatable and understandable manner. In fact, I think it’s perfect for doing just that.
The sci-fi genre has always been a look into the future as imagined by the era, which is why it’s so interesting to look at older sci-fi franchises like Alien and see how their futuristic technology is already outdated. There’s plans to be a large Nova Corps ship out front, which indicates that the Nova Corps are likely to be the focus of the ride. I could very well imagine a pre-show or loading queue where the Nova Corps ushers you through a history of sci-fi, in a way, by displaying THEIR old technology. A more advanced society like the Nova Corps could alternatively have technologies that “would benefit humans” (in the words they’d likely use), much like Alien Encounter’s X-S Tech. They could introduce us to things we already have and where they could be heading in the future through how the Nova Corps would “help” the earth by contributing their technological know-how.
Furthermore, a big attraction like that coming to futureworld could well mean a serious upgrade for EPCOT is on its way. I know if an update is coming hot on the heels of a Guardians of the Galaxy ride in EPCOT, it might be cause for concern, but I think you should at least postpone your outrage until we know a little more. They could very well be using this as a gateway to a large upgrade of its educational value.
This feels like something Universal would do. We love Disney because it’s different than Universal (I do like parts of Universal, but not as an overall resort destination). Pandering to the masses by putting in Marvel any and everywhere is something that is cheapening the Disney experience for me.
I have to agree that Disney leadership has lost their way when it comes to Epcot. I am old enough to remember the vision and hope for the future that prevailed in the 60’s and 70’s. That era saw us land on the moon and imagine a grand vision of the future. The prophets of the day got so much wrong. Houses typically still have four walls and a roof, not dome or spherical shaped abodes shown in futuristic presentations. We still dress in clothing similar to the styles of the time, nothing like Star Trek garb. And when the subject comes up my husband still exclaims that he wants to know where his flying car is. That is the time and atmosphere where Epcot was conceived. Currently many are missing the hope, and vision of what could be, and I dare say these sentiments are much needed today. With the economic crisis in so many countries, terrorism and changing catastrophic weather events we need to have someone show us despair is not the only option. There is a chance to make things better and here are some ideas. Epcot could be such a place.
The hopes and dreams of the 60’s and 70’s accelerated so many innovation. That’s why we have cell phones and the internet and so many advances in medicine and science. There are still so many matters to address.
I think that Disney needs to start there and assign imagineers the goal to come up with pavilions that can help us see the possibilities. Inspire us to look beyond today and what we have; help us to see what could be. I want to go to a place where we can celebrate and explore. Epcot is a place to celebrate what can be.
Several people have commented that Epcot is their favourite park. I would agree. Part of that is because it is not filled with thrill rides. There are many other places to go to scream and be jostled about. Epcot does not have to be one of them. Disney please take a step back and gives this some thought. WWWD (What would Walt do?)
Oh Future World. I love future world, but it looks terrible. Here’s what I want to see in future world, and a bit in the World Showcase too (nobody asked, but I’m telling you anyway.)
1) I want to see a new ride about energy. One that talks about Geothermal Energy in Iceland (imagine the roar of a volcano as your ride vehicle swoops towards it), Nuclear energy in France, America’s history of Fossil Fuels, and the future of solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other clean forms of energy being developed. I think whatever oil company is having the biggest PR problems at the moment should pay for it as a way of saying “see? look! we’re TRYING to develop clean energy.” I think this could be an awesome dark ride experience.
2) I want New Horizons. I want the past, present and future of transportation (similar to the old Horizons) but I want to see heavy involvement from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Tesla companies in showing us the future of transportation.
3) I know a lot of people like test track, but I find it kind of unimpressive. When the Chevrolet sponsorship is up, they should move it to Germany, get it sponsored by a german car company (audi, BMW, I don’t care) and create the Autobon Driving Experience. (ok, that’s unrealistic, but it would be cool)
4) We all want that Mt. Fuji roller coaster in Japan. ALL OF US.
5) I want to see a new show about nutrition, hosted by the muppets. Unlike the days of Kitchen Cabaret, nutrition is really controversial now. Miss Piggy is surely gluten-free, I’m sure Janice is vegan, I know Sam probably thinks eating burgers is very American, Kermit probably promotes moderation. I think the muppets could handle this difficult topic it with humor and flair while still being educational.
6) I want a new version of Cranium Command with the cast of Inside Out. It’s very doable, so it should be done.
7) Journey Into Imagination… *sigh* yeah, ok, I’m not sure how to fix that.
8) I would like to see Innoventions (or whatever building is available) turned into a continuously revolving technology/consumer electronics exhibition. I would like it to be a place to introduce, demonstrate, and market new consumer electronics. Epcot is supposed to be like a world’s fair, it could be more like a world’s fair.
9) Oh, and why is there SO little from NASA? NASA has amazing projects going on but they are TERRIBLE at presenting them in an entertaining way. There needs to be a liaison between Disney and NASA to create some kind of cool NASA tie-in. I recently went to a comicon where NASA’s booth had VR tours of the international space station (ISS), inflatable versions of the rockets they’re currently working on, and a panel called “McGyvering the ISS”. It was awesome, and kind of hilarious. I think Disney’s flair for presentation combined with how awesome space actually is could make for amazing edu-tainment. As opposed to whatever that mess of a post-show is they’ve got after Mission: Space.
Anyway, that’s what I want. Too bad I’m not an imagineer.
I have to agree on some of what you stated. I would LOVE to see a new FOOD NUTRITION one with the Muppets. Food Rocks was great when they had it. Cranium Command would be great too. What about something about Global Warming and how we can help. I know the Land is a decent ride but isn’t “knowledge the power.” There are times I wish School House Rock could have given Epcot some pointers on what needs to be said to help in the world. I would have liked something like a planetarium where you learned about space and the galaxy. And perhaps with Guardians there will be that. You never know.
I love all of this! Would be so amazing to see happen! This is what EPCOT needs.
Where’s the clapping hands icon when you need it? Brilliant article, Tom. [tiny voice]I still love Epcot… If TPTB aren’t going to improve it, leave it alone![/tv]
I have been a critic of Epcot for the past several years because Future Word seems so neglected. Soarin and Test Track reach record long waits not because they are great but because there is so little worth doing there. Kids are bored out of their minds when trapped there for the whole day. I personally don’t think a coaster is necessary at Epcot, but some newer dark rides that keep to the mission would be really nice. I remember being annoyed that Epcot seemed to rely so heavily on video and movies when it opened. I still have that feeling, especially at the Mexico ride and Journey to Imagination. Incidentally, I think projection mapping is going to be over used to but that is another discussion. Anyway, looking at the time tested classics that people still love like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, we can see that there are no video screens to look at on those rides, just wonderfully crafted rooms and staged scenes. It seems Epcot would be perfect for more dark rides.. I think that roller coasters and some thrill rides would be welcomed at WDW, but they should be at a separate park similar to California Adventure. I think that cool Ferris wheel would be impressive too, just not at Epcot. Odyssey, The Imagination Pavilion, the Land, and almost every movie, including the one at the USA pavilion need to be redone.
Yes,EPCOT needs a couple of roller coasters. Universe of Energy area, and Mt Fuji behind Japan. Also, a couple huge dark rides would be great.
If they’re going to put a theme down ride in future world, the only IP that sort of makes sense is Big Hero 6. It fits along with the mission statement quite well.
But really they just want to capitalize on GotG and won’t have room for it in HS.
How about Tron? Shanghai Disney has the Tron Lightcycle Coaster that looks AMAZING! Very futuristic, includes thrills.
Simply put, EPCOT is the only major theme park in Orlando that does not have a roller coaster. I think the addition of one would be great, but the theming should stick to its Future World origins.
Amen. It has been hard to watch Epcot go from being my very favorite park. to the neglected step sister then, ultimately, to just a place we plan to go to for dinner after we’ve spent the day at other parks. So many of the decisions made for Epcot seem to be darts on the dartboard sort of decisions. Unlimited alcohol at the F&W festival (perhaps a bottom line cash cow but VERY unfamily friendly) is like throwing up your hands and saying “Perhaps if we get them sloshed they won’t notice there’s actually nothing to do here.” And don’t even get me started on the new Frozen ride. Nothing against it in theory but the execution was so spectacularly un-Disney that it could have been set in any cheap amusement park. Epcot deserves better.
They could do a Guardians of the Galaxy ride but I think Hollywood Studios would be the only place it would make sense. That being said they have too much construction already at HS and I hope they don’t just shove it into EPCOT because there is nowhere else to put it. I think it would kind of ruin Future World.
On the other hand this is a golden opportunity for Iger to be a hero and refurb Universe of Energy in a spectacular way. I like the idea of SpaceX/Tesla sponsoring it. The only thing is we already have Test Track and Mission Space. This could still be made into something amazing…maybe bring back the Wonders of Life/Horizons in a spectacular way! Or maybe they could build a Tomorrowland city like from the movie.
I so much agree that Marvel has no place in EPCOT. EPCOT should have attractions based on a possible future reality not fantasy. Yes, I know there’s Frozen and Three Caballeros but those are in World Showcase and make sense in their respective pavilions.
I agree that sticking a Marvel attraction in Epcot could clash with the theming in the rest of Future World. While I understand the need for Disney branding, not every attraction has to have a movie or cartoon character associated to it. When the parks originated, Fantasy Land was the place to go to enjoy strong character branding. Now it seems like the powers that be are trying to change Disney World in its entirety into Fantasy Land. Why can’t some attractions be original concepts not linked to a Disney character?
Not to be a pedantic jerk but after watching a biography on Disney it is clear that EPCOT was meant to be his greatest contribution to mankind, a true living community. Maybe the social organization this entailed borders on a degree of control anathema to our current sense of freedom but it seems clear that Disney was aiming toward a planned utopia . It’s moving and noble that after all his contributions to entertainment he hoped this gift would outshine them all. So, however EPCOT falls short in our opinion, it would be a far greater disappointment to the audacious visionary dreamer behind it. It wasn’t really about vacations, was it?
The EPCOT Center the Walt Disney Company built was never anything like the E.P.C.O.T. Walt Disney dreamt, no matter how much TWDC might like to spin that it was/is. I don’t think there’s really any denying that.
Without Walt at the helm, I think moving away from the uptopian ideals was a wise move–in human history, no utopia has ever come to fruition as envisioned. If anyone could’ve bucked that trend, maybe it was Walt Disney–but probably not the entertainment company he left behind.
To me, this does not invalidate the ambitious nature and mission of EPCOT Center (the circa-1982 theme park) that Imagineers dreamed up. It, too, was a noble vision and offered a great contribution to humankind.
Hello Tom! A great article, as usual!
I fully agree that Disney management should not be replacing attractions with just anything just to augment the short term profits of the parks. There should be a long term vision, which of course does not exclude profits… In my view this is what should distinguish WDW from other “ordinary” theme parks. Always try to think what would Walt have done if he were still alive… You can’t go wrong like that.
In your opinion, (anyone, not just Tom) what are the attractions in future world that do fit its original theme and what are the attractions that are less effective?
Really, I think almost every pavilion still retain aspects of the original theme. The Seas with Nemo & Friends is a prime example–the ride itself has been cartoonified, but the rest of the pavilion does an exceptional job with its mission. It’s just too bad that Disney doesn’t put more effort into giving the pavilion a shot in the arm.
Same goes for the Land, and arguably Mission: Space, too.
I think the Sea Pavillion can perfectly run an “Under the Sea” (Not Little Mermaid) attraction, maybe a dark ride in 3D on a submarine vogaye or soemthing like that (a realistic version of the Old MK 20k LEagues Under the Sea). That would be neat
A roller coaster I don’t believe to be out of the question somewhere in the park (Sum of All Fears was an awesome attraction!), but the theming would need to be precise (not GoG for sure). If Space Mountain Iddn’t exist, I would love to see something like that on EPCOT! A Dark Coaster featuring a Space Travel is soemthing most people would love I guess!
100% agreed. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t belong to Epcot at all. They should totally refurb Universe of Energy, as long as the new ride talks about… energy. Nothing else. They can do something fun, technological and amazing without hurting Epcot’s concept.
I think they can marry the idea of “Energy” with roller coasters (GotG aside). A roller coaster is a bundle of energy! Potential energy, kinetic energy, magnetic energy (with a blast like RnRC). Themed correctly, this would be a GREAT way to marry the two (Thrill + Energy). Just stop trying to “character-fy” ALL THE THINGS at Epcot!
Nice post Tom! Lol it was funny to see the link to the thread I started on WDWmagic in your post! Keep up the great work!