Disney World's new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride is not your average roller coaster

  • Disney calls its new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride its first "storycoaster."
  • The coaster cars can spin 360 degrees and travel at various speeds to adjust to the story.
  • The highly anticipated ride opens at EPCOT on May 27.

EPCOT fans know it's the only major theme park in Central Florida that doesn't offer a roller coaster thrill ride – until now.

The biggest ride to debut at Walt Disney World this year – and one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind blasts off at EPCOT on May 27 just before Memorial Day weekend, bringing with it all the fun and adventure of the Marvel movies.

And this time, saving the galaxy will take more than a dance-off.

Disney calls the ride its first "storycoaster," as guests are fully immersed in a cosmic whirlwind adventure, thwarting a Celestial named Eson the Searcher. This happens while riding in cars that fully rotate to direct your attention to the fast-paced action all around.

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Epcot's Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, will incorporate seats designed to pivot and direct passengers to the scenes unfolding around them.

I was invited to test-ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind as part of a recent media event. I brought along my 19-year-old son Alex, who loves thrill rides. I, however, am not a fan of extreme roller coasters, so I was a little nervous.

As I got on the ride, I asked a Disney cast member how scary it would be. "Don't worry," she replied. "Even people who hate roller coasters have fun on this ride."

The experience immerses guests in Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" right away. The ride is located in the newly renamed World Discovery neighborhood, fully enclosed inside the enormous showcase pavilion that once housed Ellen's Energy Adventure and Universe of Energy.

And when I say enormous, I mean enormous. By volume, four EPCOT Spaceship Earths would fit inside the attraction’s massive new building. A full-size Xandarian Starblaster stands outside the Wonders of Xandar building, giving guests a sense of scale.

The building houses more than the coaster. As we waited in line, we explored the Galaxarium, a sweeping planetarium-style space showcasing planets, stars and other intergalactic wonders that connect Earth – or "Terra," as Xandrians call it – and Xandar. There is also a gallery where guests can discover more about the Xandarian people, culture and history through displays and projections.

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As part of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the new family-thrill coaster attraction debuting this summer inside EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., guests will enter the Galaxarium, a sweeping planetarium-style space showcasing planets, stars and other intergalactic wonders that connect residents of Earth and the planet Xandar.

For added authenticity, Disney Imagineers visited the "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" film set with the actors. We'll have to wait until May 2023 for that film to release, but the Guardians will also be appearing in "Thor: Love and Thunder" opening July 8. 

Our favorite characters from the movies guide us through the ride: Rocket, Groot, Drax, Gamora and Star-Lord are all there, as well as Prime, the leader of Xandar and commander of the Nova Corps Academy played by actress Glenn Close.

If you know the movies, you know Peter Quill – also known as Star-Lord – loves his awesome mixtapes. Music plays a big role in the ride: Your race through the stars will be accompanied by one of six classic pop songs. I got "One Way or Another" by Blondie, but other tracks include "September," "Disco Inferno," "Conga," "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "I Ran." You won't know which track you'll hear until the ride blasts off.

Speaking of the blast-off: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is Disney's first with a backward launch. It is fast, loud and very intense. I started screaming my head off right away, while my son cracked up next to me.

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Eson the Celestial appears in Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the new family-thrill coaster attraction debuting May 27, 2022, in EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (MARVEL/Disney)

From there, we rocketed into the darkness of space, stars swirling around us. The ride cars rotate 360 degrees, as Eson the Celestial pursues us on a frantic intergalactic race. 

The ride is very dark, making it hard to see what's coming. For me, that added to the thrill factor. Not knowing what would happen next kept me on the edge of my seat.

It is fast, but the speed adjusts throughout to allow us to follow the story. Just when I relaxed for a moment to look around, BAM — we were speeding off again, through interdimensional portals or crash landing onto a planet.

While the ride incorporates massive digital projection screens, it is fundamentally a roller coaster complete with drops and quick direction changes. I kept bracing myself for a big, steep drop, but it was never as bad as I anticipated.

But be warned: There is a lot of high speed spinning in the darkness. If you have problems with dizziness, you may feel a little woozy.

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FLORIDA TODAY entertainment reporter Christina LaFortune and her son Alex were invited to test ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind thrill ride at EPCOT. The ride opens to the public on May 27, 2022.

Overall, though, the ride was fun and not as scary as I feared. It felt like we were riding in a rocket ship on a chaotic, fast-paced adventure with the lovable misfit characters from the movies.

I asked Alex what he thought. "It's not the scariest roller coaster I've ever been on," he said. "It's fast enough to keep you entertained, but not so fast to alienate people."

"I would definitely do it again."

Christina LaFortune is the Entertainment and TgIF Editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/christinalafortune, on Twitter at @lafortunec, or send her an email at clafortune@floridatoday.com.

The first full-size Starblaster ever built stands outside Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the new family-thrill coaster attraction at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort.