Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Walt Disney World® Resort's newest EPCOT®-based roller coaster exceeds the hype as a game-changing experience, but can present challenges guests should be aware of before embarking on their journey to EPCOT's newest pavilion.
Waiting in Line
The attraction is introduced as the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion, where visitors from another planet have come to introduce their culture to guests in World Discovery much the same as Earth-based countries do around World Showcase. The presentation through the standard line—at the time of opening only available through virtual queue on the My Disney Experience app—is as spectacular and interesting as the name suggests. Video presentation loops are so long that it is rare guests standing in line will see the same thing twice during multiple waits in line, much less one, and exhibits along the way are equally as intriguing to observe.
Lightning Lane guests will bypass much of that part of the experience, but will get on the attraction faster.
The preshow is set in big. open rooms, and should be as funny for non-Marvel fans as it is exciting for those who have watched every film. Those big rooms do narrow to a singular hallway that, depending how the line has backed up, can become tight for those who are claustrophobic.
Spoiler warning: If you're new to watching MCU movies and wish to know what to watch before riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to get all the Easter Eggs and hints should carry on reading. Those who have seen them all and want no spoilers should continue to the next section of the review. If you're eager to catch up or watch the ride's key movies, you should see Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 and Eternals before riding. Each of the involved movies are available via Disney's steaming service, Disney+, and can make for a great addition to your pre-trip movie marathon list. All of these movies hold up great on their own without requiring you to have watched the rest of the MCU to understand them (yes, we are padding out the text here so those avoiding spoilers don't catch errant eyes on the movie titles).
Riding the Attraction
Avoiding spoilers? You're safe under this heading.
In short, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is everything a modern theme park attraction can and should be. Excellent in nearly every way, on multiple ride-throughs we've seen everything from guests getting emotional to partying mid-coaster, and we have felt much the same ourselves.
A refreshing change in ride mechanics from everything else already existing, the attraction is so layered that it will take multiple rides to get every bit of detail and story.
With a selection of six retro songs that randomly cycle at a clip of one per ride-through, the repeatability of the attraction is as high as any, with the soundtrack undertaking considerable lifting to change the atmosphere during each ride-through.
EPCOT’s Imagineers have done a spectacular job at revitalizing an already-great park to be the center of innovation, inspiration and that classic feel of Disney magic, and this coaster is no exception. Though hard to convey exactly what makes it so special without spoilers, it should be considered a must-ride for all those who can. Though modern technology may occasionally stifle the attraction's immersion, what Walt Disney Imagineering has been able to achieve feels nothing short of miraculous.
The gift shop is separate from the attraction itself, giving those not riding or those not interested the ability to go (or not) as needed. It can accrue a separate line, but we have not waited considerably long in our experience. It forwards the thoughtfulness that has gone into almost every bit of the attraction, which is as detailed and creative as any Walt Disney World has ever offered.
How intense is it?
The best comparison to an existing attraction is that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is like Space Mountain if it was first built in 2022. It is significantly smoother, so those with backs or joints that don’t hold up well to rough attractions should feel much more comfortable getting on this.
The challenge when approaching this attraction is apparent for those prone to motion sickness. The attraction is not overly reliant on screens, so those purely susceptible to sickness onset by that sort of motion or attraction should feel comfortable riding. Those more prone to motion sickness via physical movement may have to avoid the attraction, take motion sickness medication or consider having those in their party who understand their susceptibility ride first to determine their risk of sickness.
Cast members do had out vomit bags at the exit. Nobody in our party needed them, but we had varying results when it came to feeling queasy after riding, from feeling nothing to being green with an upset stomach for a while.
How can you actually ride?
Getting on the attraction can present an additional challenge, but being prepared and aware of your options should serve well enough to get you on. The virtual queue opens at 7 a.m. day of park opening and again at 1 p.m. if you have already entered the park. For both cases, you need a park reservation. In the morning (which should be your priority, as it is a much closer guarantee to ride), pass availability goes in seconds, and it only lasts for about a minute at the 1 p.m. time. By being in the virtual queue section of the app and refreshing a minute early, you give yourself the best odds to get a pass.
Those staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can begin buying Lightning Lane for $14 at 7 a.m. and bypass the virtual queue system (or get both) and acquire a set ride time. Though Lightning Lane is available for non-resort guests, the attraction’s availability has not yet lasted until park opening yet.
A hot topic of debate, our personal view after several rides on the attraction (and a few virtual queue failures) is that virtual queue is the best way to approach new attractions with such high demand. A random lottery system would mean some guests get to ride every time they attempt getting on, while some would never have an opportunity to ride no matter how many times they try. Standing in a long queue could also mean guests who aren't at the front could burn an entire vacation day waiting without a guarantee of getting on the attraction, while the virtual queue does give enough fairness and notice to allow guests who miss on getting the pass enough opportunity to replan their current and preceding days.
No matter how you choose to ride, it is well worth the effort considering Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout has made its case for the best theme park ride in the world.