Disney World's New 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Roller Coaster Is One Epic Thrill — and We Rode It!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens May 27 at Epcot in Orlando, Florida — and PEOPLE got a preview of the ride

Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

It's safe to say Disney Parks goers have never ridden a roller coaster quite like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

The new ride, which opens to the public at the newly renamed World Discovery section of Epcot on May 27, is a historic offering for the Orlando, Florida, destination in many ways. Not only is it the first ever reverse-launch on a Disney coaster and one of the largest fully-enclosed coasters in the world, it's also Epcot's first roller coaster thrill ride — giving patrons a whole new reason to visit the theme park.

PEOPLE had the chance to test out the high-speed, turbulent coaster during a recent press preview, where attendees praised it as the best coaster in any Disney attraction.

It's a special treat for Marvel fans itching for another ride built around the Disney-owned superhero franchise. The only other thrill ride with a Marvel tie-in at a Disney property is Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, the Tower of Terror re-skin that resides at Disney's California Adventure.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MAY 05: General view of the "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" Disney's new ride during a media preview event at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World on May 05, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Gerardo Mora/Getty

That doesn't mean riders need to be a lover of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise to appreciate Cosmic Rewind, though there are plenty of treats in store for those who have watched the films (both streaming on Disney+).

Not only do all of the original five Guardians appear — including Star-Lord Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) — but there's also a cameo from Glenn Close, who reprises her role as Nova Prime for some pre-attraction clips.

Superfans will recognize Eson the Searcher too, the Celestial who serves as the ride's big bad. (He was previously seen in flashback footage in James Gunn's first Guardians film.) And of course, the fictional planet of Xandar — where the ride takes place — will look very familiar, the home world of the Xandarians and the capital of the Nova Empire recreated directly from the films.

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Before they get to the coaster, the queue will wind guests through the "Wonders of Xandar" exhibit in the Galaxarium, which Disney describes as "a planetarium-like exhibition showcasing the similarities and differences between Xandar and Earth's galaxies."

Amid the display cases are various items of memorabilia from this world, including 3-D maps, digital images of the technology, and Xandarian uniforms. There are even models of various ships like the Guardians' first ship, the Milano — named after Alyssa Milano, Quill's childhood crush — and the Nova Cruiser, also seen in a giant rendering outside the entrance.

There's also video of the Guardians being interviewed by a Xandarian newscaster, in which Pratt's Quill drops some references to his days at Epcot as a kid before he was abducted from Earth by the Yondu Ravager Clan in 1988.

Two pre-shows brief guests on the story of the ride, which involves battling Eson after he steals the portal-creating cosmic generator. As riders evacuate the ship via Starjumper shuttle escape pods, the Guardians swing on the scene to reprogram the ships to help them go after Eson in their space chase.

Look out for a cameo from actor and former linebacker Terry Crews, who dips his toe in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his role as Centurion Tal Marik.

Like the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a fully-enclosed dark ride, making it difficult to orient oneself when actually on the trip. The coaster begins by shooting guests backwards, but from there, they're sent in every different direction, each of the ride's innovative 360-degree rotating four-seat omni-mover cars twisting and turning them around through sudden drops, sharp turns and stops.

Park goers who suffer from motion sickness may want to avoid this one.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MAY 05: General view of the "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" Disney's new ride during a media preview event at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World on May 05, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Gerardo Mora/Getty

Throughout the ride, which is housed in a massive structure that could fit four Spaceship Earths inside, the walls are covered in projections, showcasing the intergalactic battle guests are engaged in alongside the Guardians. They'll pass the Milky Way, the moon, Earth, and lots and lots of stars. The visuals are stunning at every turn, and only add to the immersive experience.

And in the spirit of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, which are known for their iconic soundtracks, Cosmic Rewind has a mixtape of music helping score the fun. Each ride blasts one of six potential tracks: "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire; "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps; "Conga" by Gloria Estefan; "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears; "I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock of Seagulls, or "One Way or Another" by Blondie throughout.

Good luck ever hearing those songs again and not feeling your heart start to race.

Once finished, the ride — like many at Disney Parks — spits guests out into a gift shop, where they can purchase a variety of Guardians of the Galaxy-themed swag.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind was first announced in 2017. It replaces the Ellen's Energy Adventure ride pavilion, as well as expands into a new structure.

The new ride opens as part of the Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary celebration, which kicked off last fall and runs for 18 months.

It's also a part of a much larger overhaul of Epcot. According to Disney Parks' blog, the park will be divided into four neighborhoods: World Showcase, where you'll still be able to eat and rink your way across continents; World Celebration, a central corridor that includes the iconic Spaceship Earth sphere; World Nature, home to attractions themed to Finding Nemo and Moana; and World Discovery, where the Guardians will reside within the cheekily named "other-world showcase."

Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has just wrapped filming, writer and director James Gunn announced earlier this month.

"I love this amazing cast & crew & their beautiful talent & kind souls," Dunn wrote alongside a picture of the cast he shared to social media. "I'm a lucky human to have them on the journey with me for nearly a decade."

The third film is due in theaters May 5, 2023. It's the final installment into the Guardians of the Galaxy series, Gunn said on Deadline's Hero Nation podcast earlier this year.

"This is the end for us, the last time people will see this team of Guardians," he explained. "It's so, so big and dark, and different from what people might be expecting it to be. I just want to be true to the characters, the story and give people the wrap-up that they deserve for the story."

Gunn added that concluding a story that fans have followed closely for years is "always a little bit scary" — teasing, "I'm doing my best. I'm aware that the third film in most trilogies sucks."

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