Disney’s newest Marvel-themed roller coaster goes big with screens. Real big. Like, larger than a football field big. But you may not realize it when riding because you’re too busy screaming over the fact your vehicle keeps rotating in different directions on the track as you hurl through time and space.
We got an early preview of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, located at Epcot in Walt Disney World in Florida. The ride officially opens May 27. It’s one of the largest indoor roller coasters, and Disney didn’t hold back on using new tech tricks to give the Marvel misfit heroes a hit attraction that could outshine Disney’s other Marvel rides — all with a goofy, Epcot-centric story.
We give you a look inside the experience in the video embedded above (be careful if you’re trying to avoid spoilers). And I can tell you, some of the best tech is even before you step in the ride vehicle. Special effects in the pre-show literally transport you into a new Guardians adventure where you’re going back in time to stop a space-monster-thing from destroying Earth, and uh, everything as we know it.
This reverse-launch roller coaster is what Disney calls an Omnicoaster. Vehicles make controlled rotations to always keep you looking at the action. The real G-forces are felt when your coaster is speeding down the track in one direction and you’re facing off to the side. There are no loops or upside-down flips, but boy you’ll feel it is intense at certain parts.
The whole time you’re zipping around, the Guardians gang are bantering jokes while you face certain doom. And the classic pop music Star-Lord loves is blaring through speakers in your ride car. The Disney Imagineers team tested more than 100 potential songs for the attraction, but it was narrowed down to six. Guests will have one of these songs randomly play as it blasts off: “September,” “Disco Inferno,” “Conga,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “I Ran” or “One Way or Another.”
This ride doesn’t have any audio-animatronic figures — instead, it sends guests hurling on spaceships around planets, and big action is projected on multiple surfaces to make it look like you’re in space. One of those screens is bigger than a football field, according to Disney Imagineer Wyatt Winter, senior producer for Cosmic Rewind. In an interview during our press preview, he explained that the team wanted to make sure guests who didn’t know much about Marvel could still enjoy this story — and the gaps would be filled in during your wait in line.
Epcot is a park about celebrating the world’s cultures and imagining the possibilities of future technology. And somehow, the style of humor for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise made it so Disney could put a bunch of space adventurers into this park.
While waiting in the winding ride queue, guests learn the layered backstory: Star-Lord, the retro-music-loving leader of the Guardians played by Chris Pratt, visited the Epcot theme park as a child. And he is pretty famous among Xandarians, an alien race that looks exactly like us. The Xandarians traveled from their world to Epcot to make a pavilion to teach us about their planet and share their advanced technologies. But something goes wrong when a Celestial steals some tech to destroy Earth.
Still following? As someone who is a bit fuzzy on the Nova Corps (sorta like space police from Xandar), and I know nothing about Celestials (universe God-things from the Eternals movie that I didn’t watch yet), I found the adventure easy to understand because I was familiar with the Guardians characters.
Epcot fans will also find hidden references to the ride that once stood in this spot: The Universe of Energy. (Star-Lord was a big fan of the ride with all the animatronic dinosaurs.)
My family and I have gone to Epcot many times, and just like Star-Lord I’m also a fan of the classic park rides. I was worried how a talking raccoon with a laser gun could feel like it belonged in the park — and it was done in just the right way. Epcot isn’t always the star theme park at Walt Disney World, mostly because it doesn’t have as many big rides. This being Epcot’s first big coaster, it could have families making sure they fit Epcot into their vacation plans.