2021 is shaping up to be a monumental year for Walt Disney World. Not only will we be coming out of one of the worst years in recent memory, but the resort will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Disney has a number of new experiences and attractions scheduled to debut for the big birthday, and among those is a new thrilling rollercoaster based on the hit Marvel films featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy that is set to debut in EPCOT.
The Guardians of the Galaxy began their Disney parks life with the refurbishment of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure in Disneyland. Back in 2017, the attraction was completely reimagined to be based on the hit Marvel films. The theme of an old abandoned hotel was overhauled and transformed into the Collector’s museum, featuring a few of his most prized acquisitions, the Guardians themselves! With the help of Rocket Raccoon, guests board a gantry lift in an effort to free the rest of the Guardians, all while being shot up and down an elevator shaft at high speeds. The ride was immediately hailed as a success with its mix of projection screens, thrilling movement, appearances from the stars of the movies, and a rocking soundtrack. Only a few months after its opening, those of us on the East Coast were treated to the announcement that a new Guardians of the Galaxy ride would make its way to Walt Disney World. Though there was early speculation that Disney would do the same overhaul of Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the news also came with a few details that this would be a whole new attraction with no similarities to Disneyland’s attraction.
During the D23 Expo of 2017, Disney unveiled plans for a parkwide reimagining of EPCOT. The park had been on a downhill slope after the closure of many of the interactive experiences and “edutainment” attractions. This new refurbishment was touted as bringing with it a number of new attractions, restaurants, and interactive experiences including a stateside version of Disneyland Paris’ Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. During the presentation, it was revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind would be installed in the space that formerly held Ellen’s Energy Adventure, located in what will become the new “World Discovery” section. Although we didn’t get many other details during that initial announcement, Disney slowly trickled out more information later revealing that the new coaster would be one of the longest enclosed rollercoasters in the world. As more information came, we found out that the new attraction will also feature a new “omnicoaster” system that allows the coaster vehicles to rotate 360 degrees, putting each rider into the story.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind begins with guests entering the “Galaxarium”, which has been set up by the Nova Corps as a gesture of goodwill to the people of Earth. You might remember the Nova Corps from the Guardians films as the space cops who keep order in the outer galaxies. The Nova Corp has set up a “Galaxarium” and is inviting Earthlings to experience their exhibit comparing the similarities between Earth and the alien planet Xandar. While we know that this is how the adventure will begin, we don’t have many details on how the story will play out on the actual attraction. Knowing Disney, something will inevitably go wrong and you’ll be employed to join the Guardians to help set things straight. Concept art released for the attraction show some amazing otherworldly settings.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is being called a “storytelling” rollercoaster. Imagineers have expanded on the classic Omnimover ride system to create a new Omnicoaster that allows them to direct passengers’ attention in any direction they wish. This new movement in rollercoaster vehicles is something we’ve never seen in a theme park and looks to be the thing that puts the new attraction over the top. Each car will seat up to four people with lap bars. Early footage of the ride in motion shows that the vehicles can spin during any part of the ride, not just the slow parts!
While this may seem like a jarring addition to a style of ride that’s already intense, Disney has ensured that the vehicles will move smoothly and not cause disorientation during the experience. It was also announced that this new coaster would also be capable of a reverse launch which adds even more excitement. The ride vehicles have been themed around the Nova Corps with their star symbol across the front. Each vehicle has been hand finished to be unique and feature distinctive weathering and damage. This level of detail is sure to put Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in the top tier of headliner attractions at the resort.
Since its announcement, Disney has said that the new Guardians rollercoaster would open as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. As 2019 began, construction on the ride was in full swing as construction crews gutted Ellen’s Energy Adventure and began erecting the massive building that will house most of the coaster’s track. Unfortunately, the events of 2020 put a major pause on that. During Walt Disney World’s lengthy closure due to the outbreak of COVID-19, work on the ride was halted and many months were lost in the development of the ride. Luckily, when the resort reopened later in the Summer, work began again in earnest and has been moving along nicely since. Although we assumed that we would be getting a definite opening date for the attraction, the pause put a hold on that and inevitably extended the time Disney would need to create the attraction. At this time Disney has given no word on an opening date, or even a season, but have said that the ride will still open as part of the 50th anniversary. Stay tuned as we will be sure to bring you that exciting news as soon as it’s released!
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Photos Courtesy Disney