Walt Disney World has finally officially announced that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot will open Memorial Day Weekend 2022! In this post, we’ll share the details from Disney, photos, and a new video. Plus, our predictions about AP previews, soft openings, virtual queue v. standby, Lightning Lane status, and more!
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a “storytelling” roller coaster, which is to say it’s a mild thrill ride with show scenes. Walt Disney World has indicated that it’s a family-friendly attraction–but it’ll still have a height requirement. Its grand opening is another milestone in Epcot’s overhaul, and happens near the midway point of the World’s Most Magical Celebration.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is located in the old Universe of Energy pavilion, near the front of the park between Spaceship Earth, Connections Cafe & Eatery, and Play Pavilion (more on these last two and their statuses later in the post). The attraction itself is inside what’s called the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion, and is in the World Discovery neighborhood of Epcot.
The opening of Cosmic Rewind is cause for excitement, as this is truly a blockbuster addition to Walt Disney World. Although the company doesn’t release attraction budgets, this first-of-its-kind attraction is the biggest and most expensive addition of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. We have heard multiple, credible accounts that its budget was over $400 million, and could be closer to $500 million when all is said and done.
To put that into perspective, Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland cost a reported $450 million and contains one of the most-ambitious attractions to date, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. Tokyo Disneyland’s new expansion including the mega E-Ticket Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast cost $700 million. Each version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge cost an estimated $1 billion, with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance being the costliest element of that.
The difference? All of those are entire lands. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is just one attraction. This would make Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind one of the most–if not the most–expensive attractions that Imagineering has ever built.
It’s also the first Marvel attraction at Walt Disney World (and possibly only, due to limitations imposed by Universal’s exclusivity agreement encompassing the Avengers and more) and the cornerstone of the ambitious Epcot overhaul. It’s thus understandable that there’s so much excitement. The stakes for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind are high–right up there with the aforementioned Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and the transformational impact it was meant to have on Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Originally, Walt Disney World announced that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind would open “in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort.” However, the closure and subsequent phased reopening threw a monkey wrench into those plans. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait too much longer.
Fast forward to today, when Walt Disney World announced that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will officially open on May 27, 2022. That’s the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to the summer season at Walt Disney World. But wait, there’s more!
Here’s the text of the official announcement from Walt Disney World:
What do we already know about this awesome new family-thrill coaster attraction at Walt Disney World Resort? Well, we know people from the planet Xandar are coming to Earth and creating the first “other-world” showcase at EPCOT – the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. We know we’ll learn more about their technology and culture as we move through the pavilion, and discover how our two worlds are similar in so many ways.
But what actually happens? I’ve got an idea – or 12% of an idea, at least – based on the new commercial spot we’re debuting right here on the blog. Check it out below, and then let’s break it down!
According to Walt Disney World’s announcement, here’s what we just saw in that Cosmic Rewind commercial:
- Someone shouts, “This is an SOS from Nova Corps … Our outpost on Earth’s EPCOT is in danger!” The Nova Corps is Xandar’s peacekeeping team serving as protectors of their planet and the broader Andromeda Galaxy, which is where Xandar is located. This must be a Nova Corps officer alerting us to an urgent situation.
- Clearly the Xandarians have come to EPCOT to oversee the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. I can tell because Spaceship Earth is visible outside the window, gleaming in all its glory. Oh, and because it says “EPCOT – Walt Disney World Resort” right there on the screen (nothing gets by me, I tell ya). But something is amiss because …
- Someone who appears to be a Nova Corps soldier shouts out, “Everything is disappearing!” And, yep, we see things – people, clouds, you name it – literally zipping backward out of existence. Rewinding, perhaps? Hmm …
- The officer is holding up a viewscreen communicator, and then we flash to the other end of that line … to the familiar confines of an M-Ship cockpit, where Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, and a few of our other favorite Guardians of the Galaxy are relaxing between missions.
- Rocket is absorbed in apparently trying to “fix” Quill’s Awesome Mix tape. Thankfully, Groot is at least paying some passing attention to what’s happening on the screen in front of them and unmutes the volume – just in time to hear a distress call …
- “Help the galaxy – before it’s too late!” the officer urges – and then she, too, disappears … along with Spaceship Earth! Now we have Rocket’s attention, too, even if Star-Lord is peacefully snoozing away. (He’s been asleep this whole time? Typical.)
- Always considering himself the captain of the ship anyway, Rocket promptly takes the controls and decides to blast off for EPCOT. Because, as he says, “It’s save the galaxy time – again.”
- This is where we’ll come in, I think. As Rocket fires up the ship, we see other people zooming around the screen in Starjumpers, a type of Xandarian spacecraft. And just as the clip ends, Rocket takes the M-Ship into a jump point – the technology that allows Xandarians to travel vast distances of space in mere moments. And that’s it!
Now, let’s turn to some speculation about Cosmic Rewind’s Lightning Lane status, potential virtual queue, soft openings, AP previews, and more…
There are also a few wildcards with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The first is whether it’ll be part of Genie+ or an Individual Lightning Lane. This is really a “wildcard” in name only, since Walt Disney World hasn’t officially announced anything.
We’d say there’s a greater than 99.999% chance that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be an Individual Lightning Lane attraction. It’s really a question of how much it’ll cost and how quickly it’ll sell out each day. Will Cosmic Rewind be the first Walt Disney World attraction to break $20? $25? $30?!? My money is on $25. I think Disney could easily get $40 per person, but might not want to risk the backlash. They still haven’t raised prices on Rise of the Resistance, despite daily sell outs early in the morning.
The other big question is whether Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will move to Genie+ (which still desperately needs more rides at Epcot, even with the addition of Frozen Ever After) or if Epcot will be the only park with two Individual Lightning Lane attractions. We could see it going either way given that the Rat Ride is less than one year old.
Another big question is whether Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will use a virtual queue. After Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ended its boarding groups last fall and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure stopped its VQ this winter, there are currently no attractions at Walt Disney World utilizing this much-maligned system.
Both Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure used virtual queues for different reasons. The Galaxy’s Edge headliner did due to a lack of reliability. The Rat Ride did so due to a lack of physical space back in the expansion to the France pavilion.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind hopefully doesn’t suffer from downtime issues and it probably doesn’t lack queue space. There should be a lot inside the building, and there’s definitely ample overflow space outside. That means we’re in the clear. Cosmic Rewind should be standby…right?!?
Well, maybe. The issue with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is actually the approach. If you’ve navigated the construction walls around the Giant Epcot Dirt Pit™️, you’re likely aware that getting between Spaceship Earth and World Discovery isn’t easy. It’s a recipe for potential problems, and could get downright dangerous at rope drop as guests stampede to be among the first to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
It’s conceivable that Epcot operations could implement a slow walk procedure to World Discovery in the morning, but that would be a big burden on Cast Members and there would always be guests within that sea of humanity jockeying for position with one another. Disney is pretty risk averse, and those liability concerns could dictate the decision here.
Even though Walt Disney World likely wants to avoid bringing back the virtual queue due to the drop in guest satisfaction it causes, I don’t think they’ll have any other choice here. I’m expecting a virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. (Spoiler alert: whatever decision is made here, expect the exact same one with TRON Lightcycle Run for the exact same reasons.)
The positive development here is that the sharp turn to go behind the former Innoventions building is no more, as Epcot has reopened part of the regular walkway connecting the Epcot entrance area to World Discovery. This was done as Walt Disney Imagineering prepares to open Connections Cafe & Eatery sometime in the coming weeks, presumably before Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Even though this recently-opened pathway is wider and more conducive to smooth traffic flow, it’s still possible that peak park opening demand for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will surpass what’s necessary for comfortable crowd flow. In which case, a virtual queue is still possible.
While we’ve gotten good at gaming virtual queues (and have “speed strategy” advice so you can achieve similar success), my personal hope is for a standby queue. It’s the more guest-friendly approach that levels the playing field, is less stressful, and results in fewer complaints.
Plus, if there’s a virtual queue, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind likely won’t open for Early Entry or Extended Evening Hours–and we really hope it’s available for both!
It’s also worth touching upon one other upcoming addition to Epcot: the Play Pavilion. Originally conceived to offer interactive activities aimed at kids as a replacement for the defunct Wonders of Life, Walt Disney World has offered zero substantive updates on the Play Pavilion in the last 2 years.
Like so many other things, the Play Pavilion should’ve been open by now. We always viewed it as counter-programming to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind that would help World Discovery absorb crowds. However, there’s absolutely not chance it’ll just “spontaneously” open with zero updates alongside Cosmic Rewind.
Walt Disney World likes the slow buildup for attraction openings–fans “need” to see more concept art and hear about Imagineering’s painstaking efforts to pick out flooring. Play Pavilion is easily still months–if not a year or more–away. Or, it could’ve been quietly cancelled or taken back to the drawing board. Expect to hear more during the D23 Expo in September 2022.
Finally, there’s the question of soft openings and affiliation previews. Soft openings are also known as trial operations or technical rehearsals, and are basically an unannounced and controlled test period. They provide an opportunity for theme parks to open an attraction prior to its official opening and conduct operations and Cast Member training in a more forgiving and low stress environment.
Soft openings are not publicized via any official resources: not on park maps, the official Disney Parks Blog, annoying TikTok videos, wait time boards, or even in the My Disney Experience app. As a result, they always draw significantly fewer crowds than official openings. They’re a nice perk for guests who are already in the park and the most plugged-in Walt Disney World fans.
They’re also a hassle for park operations. Bloggers/vloggers tend to linger around outside and regular guests ask a lot of questions. For these and other reasons, Walt Disney World has moved away from soft openings in the last few years. Given that precedent, we do not expect general public soft openings for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Instead, our expectation is that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will offer pre-registered previews for select groups. Disney Vacation Club, Golden Oak, Club 33, and select tiers of Annual Passholders would be the most likely candidates. We expect this to work almost exactly like the previews for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure last year, right down to all eligible APs not receiving the email before slots started filling up.
Also similar to that, we’re going to go out on a limb and predict roughly 3 weeks–nearly a full month–of previews for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. As evidenced by the preview rides given to executives and investors, the ride is ready to roll. Walt Disney World is simply waiting for the most opportune time to open it. While Memorial Day is the unofficial start of Summer 2022, the entire month of May 2022 will likely be a bit slower at Epcot.
The scenario was similar with attendance in September of last year when Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure had a prolonged preview period. This was mutually advantageous: it offered locals a “squeak peek” at the new attraction with shorter wait times, while also helping spike attendance for Epcot and pulling forward some of those locals’ visits from October.
These are pretty bold and specific predictions regarding soft openings and pre-registered previews, but we’d honestly be more surprised if Walt Disney World doesn’t follow the exact same playbook for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind that was used for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. (We should know one way or another in the coming days–if Cast Member previews start by mid-April, that’s a good sign of AP previews in early to mid-May 2022.)
UPDATE: Walt Disney World just sent out the above ‘save the date’ email to some eligible DVC members and Annual Passholders. Despite us being on the same contract, Sarah received it and I did not, naturally. (Not receiving emails from Disney is pretty common, so don’t freak out if you didn’t get it.) Looks like the actual invites and links should go out soon, so STAY TUNED!
Both of us will be monitoring our emails like hawks in the coming weeks and will give you a heads up ASAP if/when preview registration goes live. Remember, you typically don’t need the email to register–just the link. You can subscribe to our free email newsletter for instant alerts.
Ultimately, we’re looking forward to experiencing Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opening May 27, 2022 at Walt Disney World. Even as a “recovering” EPCOT Center purist, it still bugs me that this is being added to the (former) Future World. As does the gigantic blue show building…and the amount spent on one single addition when the park needs a lot of help. However, what’s done is done–and this should be a really fun attraction.
That’s really the core of the apple. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is likely to be a crowd-pleasing attraction that wows guests with both its thrills and technology, plus its layer of Imagineered detail and storytelling, plus popular music and the irreverence of these Marvel misfits. It’ll likely rival Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Tron Lightcycle Run, and Avatar Flight of Passage for the longest wait times and most coveted Individual Lightning Lane selections in all of Walt Disney World.
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Are you excited for the grand opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot? Think it’ll have a virtual queue or standby line right at opening? What about soft openings v. pre-registered previews? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!