Walt Disney World has released more details about the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and how it’ll operate during Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT. This post covers how both will work and what to expect once this blockbuster roller coaster opens in Summer 2022.
As a quick reminder, Cosmic Rewind will essentially operate like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure before both stopped their virtual queues. That means there will be no standby line when it debuts–you’ll either need to successfully score spots in the virtual queue and/or buy an Individual Lightning Lane for the Marvel blockbuster.
If Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is any indication, that’s likely to be no easy task. (We’re going to ignore Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, as it’s mediocre, whereas the Star Wars and Marvel attractions are both E-Tickets.) That Disney’s Hollywood Studios attraction filled its virtual queue almost instantly, and the same now happens with its Individual Lightning Lane.
Today’s news sheds more light on how the virtual queue will work, along with the reveal that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be open for Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT. This is unprecedented for an attraction using a virtual queue, as neither Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance nor the Rat Ride did this.
Here are the full details on how access to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind via the virtual queue during regular and Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT…
How to enter the virtual queue – Beginning at 7 a.m. on the day of their park reservation, guests with a valid ticket or Annual Pass and a Disney Park Pass Reservation for EPCOT will be able to check for an available boarding group via the My Disney Experience app and request access to the virtual queue. This can be done before you leave your resort hotel or on your way to the park.
At 1 p.m., there will be another opportunity to join the virtual queue for anyone who wasn’t able to join a boarding group earlier in the day. According to Walt Disney World, guests must be inside EPCOT to access this second virtual queue opportunity. (Note: this most likely is not true–virtual queues have never been geofenced, they simply require that you’ve entered that particular park earlier in the day to “unlock” eligibility.)
In order to give as many guests as possible the opportunity to save the galaxy, each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day during regular park hours. Joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Individual Lightning Lane – As previously announced, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will also have Individual Lightning Lane access that can be purchased in the My Disney Experience app via the Disney Genie service on the same day of visit, subject to availability. Like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, it’ll almost certainly sell out in minutes–long before off-site guests are eligible to purchase.
The Individual Lightning Lane price for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has not yet been announced, but our bet is that it surpasses Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. My money is on $25. I think Disney could easily get $40 per person, but might not want to risk the backlash. To learn more about line-skipping access, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info.
Virtual queue during extended evening hours – Registered guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort or other select hotels will have an additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue at 6 p.m. on select dates during extended evening theme park hours. Guests with this benefit do not need to be in EPCOT to request to join at that time.
Guests will need valid admission and a theme park reservation for the same park on the same day to experience extended evening hours — or, guests may experience extended evening hours if they have a ticket or annual pass with the Park Hopper option and first enter the park where they made their reservation. For more information about this benefit, see our Guide to Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Walt Disney World.
We’ve done Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT several times, and our experiences are mostly positive. Our Evening Extended Hours at EPCOT Strategy & Report offers play-by-play from one night that we did a couple months ago. Disregard the “strategy” side of that, as Cosmic Rewind will change that.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind causes a seismic shift in Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT. There’s a limited pool of guests who are eligible for this perk, but we’re guessing that utilization has not been particularly high up until now. With only a handful of headliners at EPCOT, the park cannot soak up crowds during the extra hours like Magic Kingdom, so we’ll see if it becomes overly crowded once Cosmic Rewind opens.
As for virtual queue competitiveness for Extended Evening Hours at Epcot…I’m not even going to guess.
For one thing, it’s only a 2-hour window versus an entire operating day. For another, I truly have no concept of current utilization of Extended Evening Hours at Epcot. It could be 25% or 50%, I have literally no clue. I also have no idea how much that percentage will increase–at least when it comes to attempting the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. (The good news is that the virtual queue opens at 6 p.m., so those who try and fail may not even bother showing up to EPCOT for the extra hours…that should reduce the crowd at least a little.)
If a time traveler from June 6, 2022 were to come back and tell me that the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue for Extended Evening Hours didn’t fill up until 9 pm, I wouldn’t be surprised. If they said it filled up by 6:00:03 pm, I also wouldn’t be surprised.
About my only reaction would be side-eye that the time traveler wasted their technology on bringing me this relatively inconsequential info. Even in the EPCOT realm, they could’ve done something more important, like warning the designers of Harmonious that the cost of the Stargate and water tacos were not worth it.
Finally, here are general details about the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue for those who are unfamiliar with the whole process…
Here’s the info directly from Walt Disney World’s page on virtual queues:
When Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens on May 27, 2022 a virtual queue will be in place. Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction. A standby queue will not be available. Each Guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.
Check for Updates – Virtual queues continue to be helpful with the launch of popular attractions and the debut of new experiences and offerings, so we may use them again from time to time for select experiences in the future.
Check the My Disney Experience app just before your visit—and again before 7:00 AM on the day of your visit—to learn whether a virtual or standby queue will be required or available for any attractions or experiences when you’re here.
Get Ready to Join the Virtual Queue! – On the day of your visit, you may have the opportunity to join the virtual queue at daily distribution times, which are subject to change or cancellation as availability allows. Distribution schedules will be available in the My Disney Experience app.
Follow these steps to join the virtual queue:
Step 1 – Check Availability: Log in to the My Disney Experience app at one of the distribution times. Select “Virtual Queues” on the home screen to view the current status and next steps for joining a virtual queue. The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time, or if a backup group is available.
Step 2 – Enroll Your Group: As long as your Disney account is linked to your group’s park tickets, and everyone has valid admission and park reservations for the park you will visit, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time (subject to availability).
Step 3 – Enjoy the Experience: If your boarding group is called to return, you’ll receive a notification via the My Disney Experience app. Then, head over to the entrance of the experience within your designated return window.
If you’ve ever used the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, you’re undoubtedly familiar with this process–and to a greater degree than what Disney describes. If you haven’t, that probably didn’t do enough to familiarize you with the virtual queue process.
This is partly because this language appears to be boilerplate, and has not been tailored to the unique wrinkles of the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic. Our expectation is that it works more or less the same as the last iteration of its predecessors–with entry times at both 7 am and 1 pm. That second entry time at 1 pm was a positive change with the prior attractions and we’re glad to see it sticking around.
Ultimately, we’re still disappointed that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will use a virtual queue. While we’ve gotten good at gaming the boarding group process (and have “speed strategy” advice so you can achieve similar success), my personal hope was for a standby queue.
Although the attraction has had some downtime during Annual Passholder previews, this hasn’t been worse than any other new attraction going through it’s initial test & adjust “growing pains.” It’s clearly far more reliable and less prone to downtime than Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (that’s not necessarily saying much).
So that’s not really a good explanation, nor is the lack of physical space in the standby queue. While it’s true that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has a relatively short indoor queue, this is true of almost every new attraction in the post-FastPass era, with the only notable exception being Avatar Flight of Passage.
Attractions with FastPass+ or Lightning Lanes simply do not need as much standby space in the long-run. Fewer people in the physical standby queue can result in a higher posted wait time, which in turn causes more guests to hit their balking point, due to the ride reservation systems. (In other words, those photos of long extended queues during previews are meaningless devoid of the context that the Lightning Lane isn’t currently in use!)
We also don’t give credence to any theories that Cosmic Rewind has a virtual queue to push frustrated guests towards buying the Individual Lightning Lane access instead. This same ‘theorizing’ occurred back when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance moved from a virtual queue to standby. It didn’t make sense then, it doesn’t make sense now.
The simple and unfortunate fact is that daily demand for paid Individual Lightning Lane access to Cosmic Rewind would exceed all daily capacity for the attraction. Walt Disney World could reserve literally 99% of capacity for ILL guests and have no problem selling out those slots every single day this summer.
As for Disney setting aside more capacity for the Individual Lightning Lane, the exact same thing could happen regardless of whether the other line is a virtual queue or standby. Either way, you’re not going to know what the allocation is between the two lines.
These theories are only plausible if demand needs to be juiced or artificially manipulated, and with Cosmic Rewind, that is most definitely not the case. Just like with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, no such incentivization or manipulation is necessary. This is potentially a conversation to have a few years from now when Cosmic Rewind’s popularity dies down, but not its opening summer. For now, debating the merits of virtual queues versus standby lines should occur in isolation, without regard for Individual Lightning Lane (obviously, that can also be debated in isolation–there just isn’t crossover between them).
In any case, having a standby line is the more guest-friendly approach that levels the playing field, is less stressful, and results in fewer complaints. Which is exactly why we were happy to see Rise of the Resistance and Rat Ride retire their VQs even as some fans cynically complained that it was to sell more Individual Lightning Lanes (even though those sell out quickly, regardless).
Diehard Marvel fans will book trips to Walt Disney World this summer solely to experience Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Some of them would be willing to wait 4-5 hours in a standby line, but will get shut out of joining the virtual queue and/or buying an Individual Lightning Lane because that process will be so competitive and have more of a learning curve than just jumping in line.
Anyway, we’ll have strategy for scoring boarding groups in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue and/or buying Individual Lightning Lane return times soon–closer to when the attraction opens. (Spoiler alert: it’ll pretty much be identical to past advice for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, so you might want to brush up on that if you’re visiting opening weekend of Cosmic Rewind.) For now, check out our Spoiler-Free Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Review.
Are you excited for the grand opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind? Happy that it’ll be open during Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT, or are you still upset that the Extra Magic Hours replacement isn’t offered to every on-site guest? Have you had a chance to preview Cosmic Rewind? Disappointed that it’ll use a virtual queue instead of a standby line right at opening? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!