Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Launches at Epcot
Rocket’s detours, Star-Lord’s quips, Gamora’s voice of reason, Drax’s misunderstandings, and “I am Groot” are iconic elements from Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will enjoy these characteristics on full display throughout “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind,” Epcot’s first coaster attraction, officially opening May 27. The unlikely team of superheroes takes guests on a fast-paced journey through time and space to save the galaxy.
The ride is a family-thrill coaster that hits many first-time milestones. It’s the Guardians’ first appearance at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida; first Disney Omnicoaster, where vehicles make controlled rotations (capable of spinning 360 degrees) to keep guests focused on the action; and first reverse launch for a Disney coaster. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” is the longest fully enclosed coaster in any Disney theme park and one of the longest enclosed coasters in the world. The attraction spans more than 200,000 square feet, with its main show building stretching longer than an American football field.
Bette Lombardi, senior project coordinator at Walt Disney Imagineering, has been involved with the “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” project since June 2017, and after five years of development (and nearly 300 rides with the Guardians), Lombardi says it’s rewarding to welcome guests to the attraction.
“Using the first movie as a basis—because they were the heroes of the planet Xandar—it was about inviting the Xandarians here to Epcot to showcase their technology, their people, and their culture but also intertwine it with the fun and the science of the ragtag bunch of Guardians of the Galaxy,” Lombardi says. “We want to use some of those elements like that giant Starblaster in the front of the attraction. You see it as the first full-size Starblaster ever constructed, so I think that’s a great icon point. It’s not your typical, traditional marquee.”
The characters’ first attraction, “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!,” opened at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim in May 2017, replacing “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” and focusing on rescuing the Guardians from the Collector’s fortress. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind,” which took over the former Universe of Energy pavilion, follows a brand-new storyline that puts guests at the center of an intergalactic chase. It features more than 75 minutes of original content, with segments that include the MCU’s Guardians (filmed on the set of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”); Academy Award nominee Glenn Close, who reprises her role as Nova Prime Irani Rael, the leader of Xandar and commander of the Nova Corps; and new character Centurion Tal Marik (played by actor Terry Crews), commander of the Starcharter.
Guests begin the experience by entering The Wonders of Xandar pavilion, through which they explore The Galaxarium, the Xandar Gallery, and the Phase Chamber. The Galaxarium and the Xandar Gallery provide background on the Andromeda Galaxy’s Xandar—the planet saved by the Guardians, Ravagers, and Nova Corps in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.”
In the Phase Chamber, guests are teleported from Terra (the Xandarian term for Earth) to a Nova Corps Starcharter cruiser orbiting the planet for a demonstration of the Cosmic Generator, which creates jump points that allow for quick space travel. However, things don’t go according to plan, and the Guardians recruit guests for a mission to stop Eson, a Celestial, who intends to use the Cosmic Generator to go back in time and change the course of humanity. Once aboard the Starjumper vehicles, riders zoom past stars and planets, following the Guardians’ M-Ship as it faces off against Eson.
“There was a lot of modeling and animatics done to get a sense of the base point of how we wanted the vehicles to move, but you really don’t know until you actually get on the vehicles,” Lombardi says. “Our ride team is just spectacular to pull together such great technology and advanced, innovative systems. Once we were able to get on was when we really got to dial in where we want our guests to look, where the action should be, what the beats are, what the feeling should be.”
Like the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, music that calls back to the 1970s and ’80s is at the heart of the ride. One of six tracks plays through onboard audio while riders blast off into space, including “Conga,” “Disco Inferno,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “I Ran,” “One Way or Another,” and “September.” Guests are surprised by the song selection each time they climb aboard, encouraging repeat rides.
“The music is so important with the mixtape, with the movies, with the soundtracks,” Lombardi says. “You kind of have to hit that nail on the head to really combine the spirit of the Guardians with the movement of the vehicle and the show’s storytelling elements.”
Disney Imagineers tested more than 100 potential songs for “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” before settling on the six classic songs. Additionally, Tyler Bates, who composed the score for the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, created more than two hours of new music for the attraction.
“We have to keep people guessing. We always have to try and top ourselves,” Lombardi says. “I think what guests are going to enjoy most is that they don’t know what they’re in for. I don’t think people really know what’s going to happen when we transport them to the ship. That’s going to be a really great [moment] like, ‘Whoa, I thought I’m just coming to ride a coaster.’ So I’m excited for them to experience that but just also leave their jaws on the floor, feeling that this is so great.”
- Check out a sneak peek video of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” here.