Before starting the review, you should know that I'm by no means an authority on this topic. Why's that? Well, I'm not necessarily a Marvel fan, and I've been to EPCOT only once in the past two decades. But hey, I really like roller coasters; that has to count for something, right?
I recently got the opportunity to ride EPCOT's newest major addition, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The ride left such an impression on me that I just had to share my thoughts on it.
Keep in mind that this is just my experience from my one ride on the coaster; this is not an "everything you need to know" overview of the attraction. But, if you like reading about people having fun on roller coasters, stick around.
And one more bit of preamble: If while reading you think this review is too negative, go ahead and skip to the preshow section; that's when I start being nice.
I managed to avoid major spoilers before riding, so I was beyond impressed when experiencing this attraction for the first time. Here are my thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
I understand that boarding groups have worked nicely to manage the hysteria on an attraction's opening day. On those occasions, I'd rather take my chances with a boarding group than wait in a 10-hour line.
However, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has been open for several months. Boarding groups feel like a nuisance this far into the ride's operation. It requires waking up by 7 a.m. to take your chances on the My Disney Experience app. I don't love relentlessly refreshing the app in hopes of getting an opportunity to ride this coaster—all while rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.
Being lucky enough to have been placed in a boarding group then meant I had to plan my entire day around a specific return time. For me, that meant staying in a certain area of the park and not venturing off too far. That meant planning out lunch so that I was done in time to be ready for my boarding time. That meant checking the app to see if my boarding time changed, and being flexible when it inevitably does.
This entire process is not ideal for me. It stressed me out in the days leading up to my one-time visit. I was worried there was a chance I might not ride the attraction I was looking forward to most. The logistical details caused me a bit of anxiety, but I suppose it all worked out in the end.
Sure, a boarding group essentially guarantees that you'll get on the ride at some point in the day, but I would've much rather carved out a few hours in my day to wait in a regular standby line just like every other ride in the park.
The worst part about boarding groups is that the system limits guests to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind only once per day. There is one exception: You can ride again if you buy a Lightning Lane pass.
I don't know when I'll be back at EPCOT again. It stings knowing I only got to experience this ride once because of a stringent boarding group system.
Anyway, onto the actual attraction.
I'll keep my thoughts on the queue pretty brief. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not really a Marvel fan, so a lot of the themes and references were lost on me, even if the story canonically takes place outside of the proper MCU.
Stepping into the queue was beyond exciting. Now, maybe that's because I finally didn't have to worry about boarding groups at this point. In any case, I was stirring with anticipation while stepping foot into that building.
Sadly, that excitement calmed down a bit once I was actually inside taking a look around.
Disney has made some tremendous queues recently. As far as Walt Disney World goes, the relatively new additions in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Pandora – The World of Avatar are exceptional.
I wish I could say the queue for Cosmic Rewind blew me away, but it came up short compared to the quality Disney has been creating lately.
Don't get me wrong—the queue was nice and had some amazing elements, but the feel as a whole was lacking. For me, it didn't have that extraordinary feeling as if you were stepping into the movie.
The Smugglers Run queue, for example, feels like I'm inching closer and closer toward the Millenium Falcon and that the Star Wars universe is active all around me. The queue for Flight of Passage almost has a heartbeat that you can feel; the world building is genuine and alive.
Cosmic Rewind's queue is kind of what you would expect, but without the extra flourishes and touches. The Wonders of Xandar premise works nicely inside EPCOT, and maybe it's my fault for expecting something more. Disney has set the standard lately that their attractions will suspend your reality. Wonders of Xandar isn't strong enough to make you feel like you've traveled to a fictional world, in my opinion. Maybe it will grow on me.
The queue, however, kept me entertained enough, and the wait was somewhat short thanks to the otherwise agitating boarding group system.
This is probably a good spot to warn you that I will be getting into spoiler territory. Even if I won't geek out about MCU characters and plotlines, here's your spoiler warning.
If you haven't been on this ride yet, do yourself a favor and stay away from spoilers. Seriously. You'll thank yourself later.
There's not much for me to say about the first preshow room, the one with Terry Crews' character: Centurion Tal Marik. Once the line reaches the second preshow room, the real experience begins.
Walking in the second preshow, my theme park dork senses were tingling. Stand away from the walls, you say? Oh, something's about to happen—I just didn't know what. Mind you, there was so much to take in all at once, so it took me a while to pick up on the whole teleportation bit.
Briefly into the second preshow, the room went black. That's when it clicked. The Poseidon's Fury fanboy in me was squealing internally. They did it! The best part of that effect was seeing everyone's reactions.
Guests all around the room were amazed, looking up with their mouths hanging open while trying to figure out how they did it. The transition was so clean and grand. I was sold immediately.
Honestly, I wish I had more to say about this. If I cared about Marvel, I probably would rant for another five paragraphs, but the effect alone was enough to give me chills. The stunning surprise, the grand visuals, and the overall feel at this point swiped me off my feet.
The underwhelming queue didn't matter one bit at this point. My eyes had widened, and I was roped in. The stakes were now high, and the experience started to feel real.
With a jitter in my step, I marched down the hallway toward the boarding station for my space-bound journey.
Walking through those gates and pulling down the lap bar is when reality sets in. "I'm really about to ride Cosmic Rewind," I thought to myself while smiling. After a brief operational delay, my train was dispatched. I was about to be sent into space.
Right away, I was impressed by the presentation of this ride. It seamlessly positions riders to face a certain direction, and that was executed brilliantly from the moment you depart the station and make the first few turns. Once the story was set up, your ride vehicle rotates around effortlessly, and you hold on tight for one of the more stunning launches on any roller coaster.
Cosmic Rewind has a perfect beginning as the music kicks in and the electric lighting effects swarm the ride vehicle. Speaking of music—before you ask, I got Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
After reaching our top speed, I was blown away by the set inside the enormous show building. Disney really put the space (no pun intended) to good use, making you actually feel like you were surfing in a vast galaxy.
The ride's layout was so well-thought-out that it managed to hide surprises around every turn. Its impressive design and creative production put you face-to-face with all the action and point you perfectly where the most exciting activity is taking place without spoiling what was ahead.
All the transitions were smooth, making for a continuously winding adventure. The screens fit in perfectly and did not seem like you were noticeably watching a video. The countless stars surrounding you felt like they were floating in the weightlessness of space. The ride vehicle spiraled around planets like being convincingly caught in their gravitational pull. Every moment flowed into the next without missing a beat.
Speaking of smoothness, I've never been on a more comfortable roller coaster in my life. It didn't feel like I was on a train racing around a steel coaster track—Cosmic Rewind actually feels like you're soaring around space; there are no bumps in the track that take you out of the moment.
I was smiling throughout the entire course. I probably looked like the world's biggest dork in the on-ride photo as my mouth was hanging wide open in amazement the whole time.
And why wouldn't I be smiling? The ride even had clever humor. "Of course it's about time! Have you not been paying attention?!" I've thought about that quote probably once a day since riding this two weeks ago.
Overall, Cosmic Rewind feels exactly like how a modern-day Space Mountain would be. It's the type of ride that Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts should've been.
Cosmic Rewind is thrilling while being family-friendly at the same time. Plus, the ride is long enough to make any wait feel worth it.
I loved every second of this coaster and am counting down the days until I can ride it again.