Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Review: What to Know

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The latest new ride at Epcot is officially open! Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind was long anticipated, and the time is now upon us.

This post takes a look at all aspects of the ride, as well as how to ride it. There is no standby queue, so you absolutely need to know this information.

I also include my review of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride and overall experience. Basically, we’ll take a look at whether this ride is worth all the effort it will take to get on it.

I don’t like spoilers, so I plan to make this as spoiler free as humanly possible (updated February 3, 2023).

Exterior shot of Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot

General Information about Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

This is Disney World’s first Marvel based attraction. While Disneyland has it’s share of Marvel attractions, this is an exciting first for Disney World.

Cosmic Rewind is based off of the popular Guardians of the Galaxy movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Considering that the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are my favorite out of all the Marvel movies, I’m sure you can understand my excitement for this ride.

The Guardians of the Galaxy ride is classified as a thrill ride. It is in fact a roller coaster with a one of a kind new ride vehicle.

The vehicle is designed to rotate 360 degrees while going along the track.

Here is a video that Disney released back in 2020. It demonstrates the tests being done on the ride vehicles.

This gives you a feel for how the rotating cars work. It also highlights just how smooth of a ride these cars provide.

This ride is also the first ever reverse launch coaster at any Disney park. And on top of all of that, Cosmic Rewind is one of the largest enclosed roller coasters in the world.

Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Location

This is Epcot’s very first roller coaster!

Cosmic Rewind is located in the newly labeled “World Discovery” area of Epcot. With the Epcot re-imagining that’s been going on, seemingly forever, Disney renamed the different lands of Epcot.

World Discovery is a land focusing on science, technology, and intergalactic travel. You’ll find Space 220, Mission: Space, and Test Track in this area.

Specifically, Cosmic Rewind is housed in the old Universe of Energy building. That building is now called the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion.

Disney’s justification of this rather “otherworldy” addition to a park that traditionally focused on more earthly concerns, is that Peter Quill took a family vacation to Epcot back in the day before he was kidnapped.

I kid you not.

Map of Guardians of the Galaxy Ride location at Epcot

As you can see from this map, the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is located quite close to the main entrance of Epcot.

When this ride finally opens a standby line, this will give guests entering there a huge advantage. In contrast, look at how far of a walk it is from the International Gateway.

Once rope drop is a possibility, you want to enter through the Main Entrance. But until then, we’re all stuck with the virtual queue/Lightning Lane booking challenge.

But more on that later.

Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Height

There is a ride height requirement for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. All guests must be at least 42″ in order to ride.

The Guardians of the Galaxy ride is described as a family ride.

Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Intensity

As I mentioned, this is designed to be a family ride. Therefore, this isn’t exactly a very intense ride.

An Imagineer has stated that the intensity of the ride comes in between Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Rock n Roller coaster.

I found the intensity to be akin to Expedition Everest. It has enough intensity to make thrill seekers satisfied, but at the same time is low enough for younger kids.

That being said, it’s not a walk in the park. If you have a younger child who is a little tentative about roller coasters, this is not the ride for them.

Also, this ride takes place in the dark, so some kids (and adults) might not like that.

Cosmic Rewind and Motion Sickness

This is a really hot topic in terms of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. Will the Guardians of the Galaxy ride cause motion sickness?

I don’t have motion sickness issues on rides as a general rule. Unless it’s one of those super spinny things that the floor drops out of at fairs. That will get me now that I’m old.

But in general, I don’t have issues on rides. However, if you are someone who is prone to motion sickness, it’s likely that this ride will make you queasy.

The main culprit is the combination of roller coaster ride plus the use of screens. It is those transitions which lend itself to motion sickness.

One solution I’ve heard about is to go on the ride but ignore the screens. You’ll miss some of the story that’s going on, but still get to enjoy the roller coaster part of it.

And yes, I do think the roller coaster by itself is worth it. In fact, I’m usually focused so much on enjoying the ride I don’t even take note of the storyline.

However, if you are super sensitive to going backwards or sideways, you might want to pass on Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not worth feeling sick for the rest of the day just to try out this ride.

Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Details

Ok, now that we’ve talked about the general info, what is the Guardians of the Galaxy ride?

The Guardians of the Galaxy ride is a roller coaster with a reverse launch. Yes, that’s right, you get launched backwards! In addition, the ride vehicle rotates according to the turns of the track, providing you with a ride experience like no other at Disney World.

The ride experience/queue starts in the Galaxarium. This is a planetarium like experience designed to help earthlings learn more about Xandar and their resources.

The flow of this allows you to feel like the queue is part of the ride experience. There is enough going on around you that it helps make time in line a little more bearable.

Backstory for the Ride

As I mentioned above, Peter Quill, aka “Star-Lord” visited Epcot with his mom when he was a kid. That is the basic justification.

Xandarians have built an outpost on earth located in Epcot. That particular outpost is now under threat.

Disney released a teaser video for the ride back before it opened. It gives just enough of a glimpse to make you pretty excited about the ride, but not enough to truly spoil it.

The teaser gives you a glimpse of the reverse launch, as well as the bad guy of this story, Eson the Celestial.

The preshow portion of the queue does an excellent job of laying the foundation of the story. You move through a few different rooms throughout the queue, all designed to more fully immerse you into the experience.

It all starts off with guests touring the Galaxarium, which is essentially a museum designed to help Terrans (or Epcotians) learn more about Xandar.

The line winds its way through different exhibits that are extremely detailed, teaching you all about the planet Xandar, it’s people, and it’s protection.

The Guardians of the Galaxy themselves make cameos throughout this portion of queue.

Finally, the guests are ultimately teleported onto a Nova Corps Starcharter cruiser ship orbiting Earth. Here, you learn more about the importance of the Cosmic Generator.

The Cosmic Generator was developed by Xandar to create artificial jump points throughout the universe to allow for more rapid travel. Clearly, this is a pretty important piece of equipment. Which is why Eson, the bad guy, steals it for himself!

Eson plans to go back in time to rewrite the course of humanity, focusing specifically on Earth. Of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy come to the rescue.

The Guardians of the Galaxy and the guests from Epcot all join forces to go back in time to the Big Bang to stop Eson and get the Cosmic Generator back.

This is where the name Cosmic Rewind comes from: the whole story is about rewinding time to save the present and future.

Song List for Guardians of the Galaxy Ride

Anyone who has seen the Guardians of the Galaxy movies knows that the soundtrack is an important piece. The same is true for the ride.

There are 6 songs you could possible listen to during the ride experience.

Imagineers started with a list of over 100 possible songs and finally narrowed it down to these:

  • “September” by Earth Wind and Fire
  • “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps
  • “Conga” by Gloria Estefan
  • “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
  • “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls
  • “One Way or Another” by Blondie

The team in charge of narrowing down the songs to just the right ones had the “onerous” task of riding the ride over and over again with all 100+ songs.

That must have been a rough job.

One very important feature is the fact that you don’t know which of the songs will play in your vehicle until you launch.

This gives the ride an extra measure of spontaneity, as well as giving you 6 different ride experiences.

How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is available to ride in two ways: via virtual queue and with a Lightning Lane reservation.

This means there is no option to use a standby line to get on the ride at this time. If you are unable to reserve a boarding pass via the virtual queue or a Lightning Lane reservation, you cannot ride.

If Disney follows previous patterns, the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy will likely end shortly before Tron open on April 4, 2023. They have historically done this with all the new rides over the past few years, keeping only one ride at a time in the virtual queue.

If this pattern holds, a standby line should be available towards the end of March/beginning of April.

But until then, the virtual queue is the only way to ride. Clearly, understanding these processes is pretty darn important. Let’s take a look at what they are.

What is a virtual queue?

A virtual queue allows you to get a spot in line, without having to physically wait in the line.

You get this spot on line by accessing the reservation system on your My Disney Experience app.

The system has gone through some changes since it was originally released. The virtual queue is a fairly straightforward process, but it’s highly competitive so you have to be on your game.

Using the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Virtual Queue

The Guardians of the Galaxy virtual queue operates the same way the virtual queue did for both Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

The mechanics of the virtual queue have gone through a few different iterations, but Disney seems to have settled on one that they like.

The virtual queue opens up two times a day, once at 7:00a and again at 1:00p. The 7:00a time is typically the more competitive of the two.

While there was a mad rush for the 1:00p boarding group drop initially, that seems to be slowing down a bit. Recently, there were still openings available well into the afternoon.

So if you don’t get it at 7:00a, don’t fret, it is possible to get it at 1:00p.

The only way to access the virtual queue system is via the My Disney Experience app on your phone.

All guests who want a Guardians of the Galaxy boarding group must have a valid park ticket for that day, as well as a park pass reservation.

If you want to get on Guardians of the Galaxy, you HAVE to read up on how to use the Disney virtual queue system. This gives you step by step instructions on how to use the system.

That post is also full of tips to help maximize your chances. And trust me, if you want your boarding group during the 7a drop, you want to know ALL THE TIPS.

Guardians of the Galaxy Virtual Queue During Extended Evening Hours

There is one other opportunity to gain access to the virtual queue, but it’s not available to everyone.

Guests who are staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, or other select Disney Good Neighbor hotels can try to join the virtual queue at 6pm on select dates.

What are those select dates, you ask?

These guests are eligible for what is called Extended Evening Hours, which is exactly what it sounds like. After park closing time, these guests can continue to get on rides for an additional 2 hours.

This benefit doesn’t happen every day. For the past few months, Epcot’s extended evening hours day has been Monday. I would expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

So every Monday, these select guests can join the Guardians of the Galaxy virtual queue for a chance to ride. Due to the lower number of people eligible, this is a good time to try.

However, I’d still try for the earlier times if you have a park reservation for Epcot, just to be safe. No need to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Lightning Lane Reservations for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

The other way to get on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is by paying extra money to use Disney’s ride reservation system: Lightning Lane.

To be clear, just because you are willing to pay extra money to ride, doesn’t mean you’ll successfully reserve a slot.

The booking process for the top individual Lightning Lane access rides has been highly competitive and a bit of a hot mess.

The ability to book Lightning Lane access also opens up at 7:00a. This means that you have to choose one or the other to attempt.

Pro Disney Planning Tip: If you have multiple cell phones available in your group, have different people attack things from different phones. Hopefully, one of you is successful. Just make sure all of your accounts are linked.

While the virtual queue is in operation, Lightning Lane availability has stayed open well into the day. This is because pretty much anyone who wants to ride can do so for free with the virtual queue.

For right now, don’t book Individual Lightning Lane access for Guardians of the Galaxy. Why pay when you can ride for free.

Once the ride switches to standy lines, Lightning Lane will be in much hotter demand for it.

To learn more about Lightning Lane access, make sure to take a look at my guide to Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane.

Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Review

Ok, now that you have all the basic information about the ride, let’s get down to brass tacks. What are my thoughts on the ride? Is it a worth addition to Disney World as a whole, and Epcot in particular?

Remember, I promise to keep this spoiler free so there aren’t specific details about the ride, but there is enough here to give you an idea of what to expect.

Entrance and Ride Queue

It seems like Disney has gotten particularly smart about how to set up the ride queues. They focus on keeping the line moving in an efficient way, while keeping you at least somewhat entertained in the process.

They do a good job with this once again with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

This starts before you even get into the building. The front of the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion creates a wow moment with the presence of a Xandarian starship.

Xandarian Starship outside the Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot

As would be expected, Disney Imagineering did a phenomenal job with this. It’s hits you before you even get inside.

Expect to see a PhotoPass photographer stationed here taking pictures of guests in prime photo locations.

If long enough, the line for the ride starts out here, which gives you plenty of opportunity to ogle the starship.

Once you move inside you enter the “museum” portion of the queue. The Xandarians have set up this planetarium style museum at Epcot on Terra (Earth) in order to allow Terrans to understand more about Xandar and the role it plays in the universe.

The Galaxarium is the first part of the inside queue which you encounter.

Galaxarium on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride in Epcot

The line gradually winds itself around, and then up with a huge screen up above. There are various scenes and narration which play on a 30 minute loop.

It’s a good mix between setting the stage for a “museum” type atmosphere and the quirky humor that is essential in anything related to Guardians of the Galaxy.

The next stage brings you into a stereotypical museum gallery. This section teaches you all about Xandar’s people, culture, and history.

Just like a real museum, there are models and displays interspersed throughout the queue. They draw on real science and technological principles, just applied through the story of Xandar.

This section also contains clips of interviews with various Guardians of the Galaxy characters. The trademark humor is there and it’s a nice touch while you’re simply waiting in line.

Exhibit in the Xandar Gallery during the queue for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind

In all, the queue is very effective. All of the displays, video clips, and so on are enough to keep guests pretty entertained while they wait.

This too is broken up into a few different “rooms”. This is an important psychological trick because it makes you feel accomplished, like you’re making progress, every time you get to the end of one room.

I don’t remember how long I waited in line the times I rode, but it actually wasn’t long enough to fully experience all of the video clips.

But don’t worry, once this ride opens up as a standby line, you’ll have PLENTY of time to experience every last detail.

Pre-Show Phase

Just like Flight of Passage and Rise of the Resistance, part of the queue turns into a pre-show. And while everyone makes fun of the awkwardness of the acting in the Flight of Passage pre-show (rightfully so), pre-shows are an effective tool.

You are still essentially waiting in line, but now you are entertained and you feel like it’s almost time to get on the ride. This is an important psychological boost in making the wait seem shorter.

And, the preshow also allows you to start getting into the actual story details which are relevant to the ride.

There are two pre-show rooms to go through where you are introduced to more characters from Xandar and the action starts to pick up.

The second pre-show room is particularly interesting.

Again, I won’t go into more detail than I already have about the plot points, but this section is where your excitement starts to build. And of course, humor is used as a tool that really drives home the point that this is in fact a Guardians of the Galaxy ride, not some other MCU ride.

The original actors play their roles throughout the entire attraction, lending even more authenticity to the ride.

Pre-show on Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind

There are two different pre-show rooms that you go through. At this point, the stage has been set for the ride itself. You know the story and the purpose behind the ride.

The Ride

And now you’re at the good part! Almost. You enter yet another queue to work your way down to the ride vehicles themselves. This has a much more traditional queue and loading feel to it.

The good news is, there are two sides to load into and this line moves through pretty quickly.

Also, the music in this section switches over to familiar music associated with Guardians of the Galaxy. It instantly works to really put you in the right mindset for the ride.

This section gives you the first glimpse at the ride vehicles. Each car holds four people and there are 5 cars total (or 10 rows).

Each seat has an individual lap bar restraint that holds you snuggly in place, very similar to the ones on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

This allows each person to feel snug and secure throughout the whole ride. I don’t like it when there’s one lap bar for both people. The smaller person inevitably winds up sliding around all over the place.

Ride vehicle for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind

From here, you’re off on an adventure!

Disney describes the ride as a “storytelling coaster”. This basically means it uses a combination of screens to tell a story and a roller coaster.

While this is the first time a ride like this exists at Disney World, Universal has rides with this basic concept. That being said, Guardians of the Galaxy has a totally unique feel compared to the rides at Universal.

The vehicles on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride are capable of spinning 360 degrees, but this isn’t done at warp speed.

The rotation of the cars is gentle, yet fast, and enhances the ride experience by not only pointing you in the right direction to see a screen, but maximizing the fun of the turns.

However, this is where potential motion sickness creeps in. If you are at all sensitive to motion sickness, go onto this ride prepared.

As I mentioned before, the combination of the screens with the speed of a roller coaster lends itself to a queasy stomach. Please use your preferred method of managing motion sickness before you get on the ride.

Alternately, focus on the ride itself and avoid looking at the screens if you realize mid-ride that all the movement is upsetting your stomach. You’ll still have a blast even if you don’t watch the screens.

My Opinion of the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride

My first trip on this ride was during the Annual Passholder previews held in the weeks before the official opening.

The preview I attended was on the very last day they offered them, so by that time the Cast Members has opportunities to work out any kinks in the system. Not that there were many to begin with.

Because this is a more straightforward ride experience in terms of technology, it is spending very little down time. This is great because it allows more people to get on the ride throughout the course of the day.

I’ve gotten off track. So, what did I think of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride? It instantly became one of my favorite rides in all of Disney World.

I guess that right there pretty much says it all.

In my humble opinion, I put it right up there with Flight of Passage, which is my favorite attraction of all time.

These two rides are very different so it’s a little like comparing apples with a prime rib, but they are both amazing for different reasons.

The Guardians of the Galaxy ride is just so gosh darn smooth. Technology is an amazing thing.

Don’t get me wrong, Thunder Mountain and Expedition Everest are also favorites of mine, and there’s nothing smooth about them. But it is nice to not need a chiropractor after getting off of Cosmic Rewind.

For my first ride experience, I had “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. I thought this was a rather appropriate song for the both the story and the ride movement. It definitely enhanced the overall ride.

I have since ridden it multiple times and keep getting “Disco Inferno”. As much as I love “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, the ride is even better with “Disco Inferno”!

The different styles of music give you a totally different experience. I love this because it allows you to ride it over and over again and it feels different.

The general consensus seems to be that “Saturday” is the song that gives the best ride experience. Hopefully someday I get lucky enough to have that song!

The ride is also a decent duration of time. I didn’t time it, so I don’t know exactly how long you’re on it. However, I felt it was a good length.

I always feel gipped on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train because it’s so short, but the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is significantly longer.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a worthy addition to Disney World’s lineup, and a necessary shot in the arm for Epcot.

Listen, I love Epcot, it’s probably my favorite park. But it’s definitely lacking on the ride side of things. Now, Epcot has one of the best rides in all of Disney World.

Demand for Guardians of the Galaxy is high, rightfully so. I will be one of those people trying to ride it every time I’m at Epcot. It’s just that good.

Seriously, I’m running in the Disney Princess half marathon in a few weeks and I plan to stop in the middle of the race to join the virtual queue. That’s how much I love this ride!

I can’t wait to take my family on the ride. I know they will all love it. My youngest loves Expedition Everest and Space Mountain, but hasn’t been brave enough to try Rock n Roller Coaster yet.

I have no hesitations to bring him on Cosmic Rewind. It’s an intensity that suits a lot of age demographics and preferred intensity levels.

It’s simply a fantastic ride.

Hot Tip: In my humble opinion, row 9 in Guardians of the Galaxy is the best seat in the house. This puts you in the front row of the last car. When things start spinning around, you suddenly have an unimpeded front row seat. While going backwards!

Being in the last car also bumps up the intensity level as physics comes into play. I would say either row 9 or row 10 are the best, with row 9 being the gold standard.

One last note: my ride photos have been very inconsistent in showing up in My Disney Experience, and I’m super bummed about it.

There are two ways to get your ride photo. The first is the good old traditional way of wearing a MagicBand, which is what I did.

Because of that, I ignored the little message that I passed in the queue that gives you instructions on how to make sure your phone is set up to be read by the ride camera.

I only saw this message once, but it must be there more than that. You scan a QR and that prompts you to make sure you have everything turned on that needs to be turned on to get the picture to you.

Do yourself a favor, scan the QR code and get your phone set up. Don’t be me and miss out on your ride photo.

Final Thoughts

I think this ride is a smash hit. It will also be insanely popular, in a park that desperately needed more rides.

Because of that, the popularity of Guardians will be huge.

The ride will eventually be offered as a standby line, and when that happens expect very long wait times. Until then, make sure you are very good at accessing the virtual queue so you can be a boarding group ninja.

Trust me, all that effort is definitely worth it.

Your Thoughts

Are you as excited about the Guardians of the Galaxy ride as I am? Or maybe roller coasters aren’t your thing. Let me know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Review: What to Know”

  1. As a Disney World fanatic, I am glad to be back at my “happy place”! An annual tradition is the Epcot Food and Wine Festival sampling the varieties of foods from around the world! This was our plan for the day! But before indulging in the delicious differing foods and grape juice from around the world, a bit of excitement was in store!
    AND, I’ll try anything one time…. Including the new hyped up Guardian of the Galaxy Indoor Roller Coaster!
    Now, as I have aged and gotten a bit larger than I used to be, I think this old body has told me that I should not subject it to the jerking, up and down, forward and backward movement associated with such daring exploits as roller coasters. So before we rode this popular venue, I asked a Disney Cast Member what it was like? The response was “oh, it is a roller coaster, and it is INTENSE, but it is a smoothe ride with visual enhancements”. “You will love it”!
    In the first place, I should have realized that this person was only 20 something years old, and I would have been better off asking some of the people exiting the exhibit! Second, I was trying to be brave and macho and show no fear for the benefit of my 13 year old grandson who, although was not with us, was waiting for our call to tell him how “great” it was!
    WRONG…. the marvelous and hyped up Guardians of the Galaxy proved to me that I am not so young anymore! I swore, prayed, and screamed that this three or so minutes of self imposed torture would end after the first downhill rotation where I realized why it was indoors and dark! Disney fooled us! This wasn’t the new ride it was hyped to be, it was a revision of a “tilt-a-whirl” cart like they had at a carnival when I was 8 years old, but it was sitting on top of a fast and furious beast of a roller coaster that sometimes even went backwards!
    I ABOUT DIED… or at least thought I was going to! I cussed the devil, prayed to God, and had flashbacks of what a wonderful life I was leaving behind! I could imagine people standing over my casket looking at my old twisted face and realizing that it was stuck that way because of the torture I had suffered trying act like a teenager again! I didn’t puke, but only because I had entered the danger zone on an empty stomach, but somewhere from the depths, I tasted bits of a pizza I ate three weeks ago! My head felt like a water balloon about to be dropped from a fifth floor hotel room and my knuckles somehow have solidified to the shape of hanging on to an iron bar!
    Needless to say…. This is Alpha and Omega! And as my wife says…. We rode it twice, our first time and our last time!
    She also says… “We are making the very best we can out of this thing called retirement”… and she is right! Ain’t Life Grand?

    1. I’m taking my mom to Epcot next month and we were talking about whether or not she should go on Guardians of the Galaxy. After reading your story, I’m thinking maybe not…

  2. I am looking forward to it when I get back to DW. I haven’t been there in years. I love coasters but have back and hip problems. Until I get there. Good luck

    1. Supposedly it’s supposed to be a really smooth ride. Hopefully that will allow you to enjoy it all you want!

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