Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind: How to ride Disney’s newest roller coaster

Jun 5, 2022

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Walt Disney World’s newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, officially opened at Walt Disney World in Orlando on May 27 and has guests (virtually) lining up in droves to help save the galaxy.

The ride brings a series of firsts to Disney World. Cosmic Rewind is Epcot’s first-ever roller coaster and it is also Disney’s first reverse launch on any coaster. The ride is also Disney World’s first Marvel-themed attraction, housed in Epcot’s new “other-world” showcase pavilion. If those weren’t already enough highlights to catch your attention, the attraction is like a giant dance party in space and just might be the best time you’ve ever had on a ride.

But, unfortunately, getting a chance to launch through the galaxy isn’t guaranteed and it can be a real challenge if you don’t know how the current Disney virtual queueing system works.

Here’s everything you need to know about riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

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In This Post

What is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind?

First things first, Cosmic Rewind is a high-speed, thrilling coaster in the dark that takes guests on an adventure through time and space alongside the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Dubbed both a “storycoaster” and “omnicoaster,” the ride’s 360-degree rotating ride vehicles turn to direct riders’ attention to the attraction’s combination of screens and physical sets.

A highly immersive queue and pre-show starring the Hollywood A-list cast from Guardians of the Galaxy Vols. 1, 2 and (forthcoming) 3 kick off the experience. Guests then board “starjumpers,” the ride vehicles, and reverse launch into what feels like one big intergalactic disco.

In Disney terms, think of it as Space Mountain with an added layer of next-level technology, a crowd-pleasing soundtrack of one of six upbeat hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and a smooth, swaying motion that really makes it feel like you’re soaring (or dancing) through the galaxy.

The initial reviews are in and guests (including yours truly) are calling this the hands-down, most fun attraction Disney has ever created.

Is the ride open for parkgoers?

After several weeks of previews for Walt Disney World cast members, annual passholders, Disney Vacation Club members and Club 33 members, Cosmic Rewind officially opened to all guests on May 27, 2022.

But, there’s a catch.

There is currently no standby queue (aka old-fashioned line) available, so the only ways to experience this new ride are by joining the virtual queue and securing a boarding group or by purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane entry.

Both of these options are accessible only via the My Disney Experience app (see below for more info) and both are going to require you being at the ready at precise times. More on that shortly.

Where is the ride in the park?

Located in Epcot’s World Discovery neighborhood, in the area of the park formerly known as Future World, Cosmic Rewind is housed within the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. The pavilion, which was previously known as the Universe of Energy pavilion and housed the opening-day attraction Universe of Energy, has now been dubbed Epcot’s first “other-world” showcase pavilion.

The revamped pavilion’s new backstory is that Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt both in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in the attraction), visited Epcot as a child and suggested the people of the planet Xandar establish the Wonders of Xandar pavilion to showcase Xandarian culture to the Terrans (people of Earth).

The World Discovery neighborhood has rapidly grown into a vibrant hub with several of Epcot’s latest openings, all part of a massive, multi-year transformation.

Two of Epcot’s newest restaurants — Space 220 and Connections Café & Eatery — are just steps away from Cosmic Rewind’s tapstiles, as is Creations Shop, the park’s new flagship retail location. Other nearby World Discovery attractions include Mission: Space and Test Track.

Related: Why Epcot is now Disney World’s go-to park

Who can ride Cosmic Rewind?

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is described within the attraction queue as a “thrilling, high-speed, turbulent ride that goes forward and backward through the dark and includes sharp turns, sudden drops and stops.”

The ride has a minimum height requirement of 42 inches and is not recommended for people who are pregnant.

The queue is accessible to guests in ECVs and wheelchairs but guests must transfer to ride vehicles to ride. Ride vehicles are accommodating to guests of a wide range of sizes, more so than some of the newer rides over at Universal Orlando.

Assuming they meet the height requirement, children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by a person age 14 or older. For groups with children who don’t meet the minimum height requirement, Rider Switch is available and enables adults to take turns riding the attraction while the other adult waits with the child unable to ride.

(Photo by Brooke McDonald/The Points Guy)

Motion sickness concerns

Some guests prone to motion sickness and/or sensitive to screens might find this attraction nausea-inducing.

I ride all Walt Disney World and Disneyland rollercoasters without a problem but found that I struggled a bit on this ride if I paid too much attention to what was happening on the screens. After a few rides, I found that if I kept my head focused in the direction the vehicle was moving, rather than on the screens, I was able to ride without a problem.

Although the ride vehicles do rotate — at one point in the ride the vehicle turns a full 360 degrees — the rotation is definitely a controlled turn like that of Haunted Mansion rather than a high-speed spin like the Teacups.

Is it scary?

With a height requirement of only 42 inches, many younger children will be tall enough to ride, but parents might be wondering how scary the ride is — especially given the PG-13 rating of the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

The main components that could bother some kids would be the darkness and speed of the coaster and the attraction’s villain, a Celestial named Eson. My youngest son rode the attraction on his 6th birthday and said he didn’t find it scary at all, but thought some kids might find “the big monster guy” a bit frightening.

For what it’s worth, he also said Cosmic Rewind is his new favorite ride at any Disney park — and he’s ridden them all.

My advice for parents is if your kids are comfortable riding any of the following rides: Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, or Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! at Disneyland, they should be fine to ride this attraction.

How can you ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind?

As previously mentioned, the only ways to blast off on this galaxy-saving adventure is by snagging a spot in either the virtual queue or by purchasing an individual Lightning Lane entry. Here’s what you need to know about both options.

Virtual queue

The virtual queue is the only way to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind without paying an additional cost on top of your park admission.

But, you should know that snagging a coveted boarding group via the virtual queue is far from guaranteed. In fact, boarding groups are getting snatched up in mere seconds for this high-demand attraction, so if you rely only on the unpaid virtual queue system, you run the risk of missing out on your chance to ride.

Guests with an Epcot theme park reservation for that day will have the opportunity to join the virtual queue via the My Disney Experience mobile app at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Guests can attempt to join the virtual queue from anywhere at 7 a.m., but must have entered Epcot prior to 1 p.m. in order to join the 1 p.m. virtual queue. You can only secure a boarding group when the clock strikes either 7 a.m. or 1 p.m. as within seconds all of the available virtual queue spots are taken.

Snagging a spot in the virtual queue doesn’t mean you won’t spend any time waiting in the physical queue — but for Cosmic Rewind, spending a little time in line isn’t a bad thing. Getting a boarding group via the virtual queue essentially secures a return time at which point you join the standby queue. While it can vary, guests typically wait only 15-30 minutes once entering the standby queue.

(Photo by Brooke McDonald/The Points Guy)

The queue for this ride is immersive and detailed. Old-school Epcot fans will especially love all the Easter eggs that nod to the park and pavilion’s history. I’d actually prefer a little time waiting rather than skipping most of it as you do in the Lightinng Lane — at least the first time you ride it.

For more information on how to use Disney’s virtual queue system and tips to secure a spot in line, check out TPG’s full guide to the Disney virtual queue system.

Individual Lightning Lane

We’ve previously noted how quickly the virtual queue fills up for Cosmic Rewind, so if you want to improve your chances of getting to ride and you’re willing to spend some money to do so, buying Individual Lightning Lane access is the way to go. But, there is a catch.

What is the Lightning Lane?

The Lightning Lane is Disney’s new name for what used to be the FastPass queue. This is a shorter, fast-tracked line that skips much of the standby queue and sends you more or less straight to the pre-show. Purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane selection for Cosmic Rewind gets you fast-tracked entrance to the ride at a designated time.

Individual Lightning Lane entry for Cosmic Rewind costs between $14 and $17 per person plus tax and varies by day. You’ll see the day’s price confirmed before making your selection and confirming your purchase.

Who can buy an Individual Lightning Lane entry?

Technically, Individual Lightning Lane selections are available for purchase to all Walt Disney World guests.

However, only guests staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, the Walt Disney World Swan, Dolphin or Swan Reserve, or Shades of Green can purchase Individual Lightning Lane selections when they first become available each day at 7 a.m. All other guests can purchase their first Individual Lightning Lane selection at the park’s opening time. And frankly, there may not be many — if any — available right now if you don’t have that head-start on purchasing.

Unlike with the virtual queue, you don’t need an Epcot Park Pass to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane, but if you’re starting your day in a different park, you’ll need a ticket or annual pass with park hopper access,. You’ll also need to select a return time for 2 p.m. or later, which is when park hopping begins. You must have tapped into your first park where you had your park reservation before you’ll be able to enter Epcot after 2 p.m. for park hopping.

Although Individual Lightning Lane selections aren’t scooped up quite as quickly as virtual queue boarding groups (which often fill in as little as 3-5 seconds), they are still selling out quickly — sometimes within the first minute. However, we have seen Cosmic Rewind Individual Lightning Lane selections available for purchase as late as 8:20 a.m. and so keep trying if you miss the first drop of availability.

This does mean guests staying off property are unlikely to get the chance to purchase Individual Lightning Lane entry for Cosmic Rewind and will instead have to rely on the virtual queues that are available to everyone at the same time(s).

Extended hours for Deluxe Resort guests

Additionally, on nights when there are Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at Epcot for deluxe resort guests, registered guests staying at Disney deluxe resorts and villas as well as the Walt Disney World Swan, Dolphin, Swan Reserve (all three of which are bookable with Marriott Bonvoy points) and Shades of Green, will have an additional opportunity to join the virtual queue at 6 p.m.

If they are successful, they will receive a boarding group to ride the attraction during the extended hours window after the park closes to day guests. Consult this list for participating hotels and schedule, which is subject to change.

Guests attempting to join the 6 p.m. virtual queue do not need to have a Park Pass for Epcot and do not need to have entered Epcot before joining, but they will need valid admission for the day and will need to have entered their first park where they hold a Disney Park Pass reservation before visiting Epcot during the Extended Hours window.

Deluxe resort guests who secured a 7 a.m. or 1 p.m. boarding group are still eligible to join the virtual queue a second time during Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.

Related: The best hotels at Disney World in 2022

Swan Reserve at Walt Disney World gives you Extended Hours access to the park for that extra time to ride Cosmic Rewind — and is bookable with Bonvoy points. (Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Riding multiple times per day

It is possible to ride up to three times in one day — which is great news for hard-core fans since you can experience up to six different songs on the ride. Each song makes the ride experience a bit different, so you might want to ride multiple times.

In the morning, you can purchase both an Individual Lightning Lane selection and join the virtual queue. If you want to try for both, it’s best to either split up and have one person in your party go for virtual queue and one person go for Individual Lightning Lane or, if only one person is making selections, it’s essential to try for the virtual queue first.

Even when the Individual Lightning Lane appears to sell out right at 7 a.m., return windows typically reappear just after 7:10 and again at 7:20, as a result of purchases that timed out or weren’t confirmed during the initial window. In other words, if at first you don’t succeed, try again and you should be able to score Individual Lightning Lane entry so long as you begin trying at 7 a.m. or immediately after the 7 a.m. virtual queue fills up.

For guests who are staying at a Disney Deluxe resort with Extended Eventing Theme Park Hours access, you can also join the 6 p.m. virtual queue in addition to the standard virtual queue options and purchased Lightning Lane.

Souvenirs

The merchandise collections for this Cosmic Rewind have to be some of the best we’ve ever seen, packed with throwback nods to the ‘80s and to Epcot’s past. Find merchandise both in the Treasures of Xandar shop just outside the ride’s exit and in the nearby Creations Shop.

My other favorite souvenir from Cosmic Rewind is an excellent on-ride Disney PhotoPass photo. Be sure to scan one of the 3D cube QR codes positioned throughout the queue so that you can link your ride photo to your My Disney Experience app.

I tried out the PhotoPass opportunity to help give riders a better idea of where in the ride the photo is taken for your best Insta-worthy pose:

Bottom line

It can be challenging to get a chance to ride Walt Disney World’s best new attraction, but rest assured, this ride is more than worth it.

Cosmic Rewind is now my absolute favorite ride at Walt Disney World (as well as TPG editor Madison Blancaflor’s favorite ride) and it is most definitely not a one-and-done experience. Chances are you’ll want to do it again and again, as I did after my first ride.

As a family that visits Walt Disney World a lot, we rarely purchase Individual Lightning Lane entry in an effort to not break the bank. We instead opt to rope drop the standby line when the park first opens or skip pricey rides with long waits altogether and save them for a future trip. That being said, I can’t imagine a trip without Cosmic Rewind, so for the foreseeable future, our family will be purchasing Individual Lightning Lane entry and trying for the virtual queue every day (yes, this means booking Epcot Park Passes for every day of our upcoming trips — it’s seriously that good).

Many guests relying solely on the standard virtual queue options are being met with serious disappointment. We’ve seen reports from frustrated guests who have repeatedly failed to get a boarding group. While no one likes standing around waiting all day, in the interest of a more level playing field, we do hope to see Disney switch to a standby queue sooner rather than later to give everyone who desperately wants to ride Cosmic Rewind the opportunity to do so, provided they’re willing to wait.

After all, the Guardians need our help saving the galaxy, and none of us want to let them down.

Featured photo by Kent Phillips/Disney. 

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