For better or worse, the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is very different than the Infinity Saga that came before it. More than ever, the movies don’t feel particularly connected, instead letting the movies and Disney+ shows build out the world of Marvel even further. From the Eternals and Shang-Chi to Moon Knight and Hawkeye, the MCU is spread out in a number of directions right now, which is where Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmis Rewind comes in.
The new storytelling rollercoaster, which opens May 27 at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, is a major step forward for thrill rides at Disney’s theme parks. However, it’s also a standalone Guardians of the Galaxy adventure that feels at home in the current Phase 4 of the MCU. Now, it’s worth noting that this ride–along with Disney’s other Marvel experiences like the other Guardians-themed ride, Mission: Breakout, in Disney’s California Adventure–exists in a theme park-heavy sliver of the multiverse. With the movies and shows feeling more standalone than ever, though, Cosmic Rewind is a natural fit.
The ride is set after the first Guardians film and features the whole gang–sans Mantis, who entered the picture in Vol. 2–and finds Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and the gang pitted against a truly gargantuan Celestial villain named Enos. Naturally, you get sucked into the battle, and it’s all set to one of six classic songs that set a soundtrack to your journey.
As far as connections to the larger MCU go, Enos is a Celestial that debuted in the Eternals comics, so it’s entirely possible that character could play into the future plans of that piece of the universe. That’s not what’s important about Cosmic Rewind, though.
The premise for the ride is that Xandar has established a showcase pavilion in Epcot, allowing the people of Earth to learn more about Xandarians. “In this story, if you are kind of paying attention here in the [queue], this is set after the events of the first film–after the first Kree battle,” Walt Disney Imagineering producer Spencer Lynn told GameSpot. “That’s really part of why Xandar is doing this outreach to promote greater peace through understanding.”
While they are here on Earth, or Terra as they call it, to promote peace, their reasoning for installing this experience at Epcot gives a deeper dive into the character of Star-Lord, beyond what’s been established in the films. They chose Epcot thanks to a 1987 family vacation Quill went on, which he still gushes about.
Those ties, back into Star-Lord’s own past, are something that helps not only deepen the backstories of the Guardians but help Cosmic Rewind stand on its own as a unique attraction. With Walt Disney Imagineering working hand-in-hand with Marvel Studios to make sure everything makes sense in the universe, Cosmic Rewind offers up the purest Marvel theme park attraction yet, as it’s a truly unbelievable experience using brand new technology and the cast from the movie (plus a new character played by Terry Crews) to create a wholly new ride that takes you through a story directed by Guardians movie mastermind James Gunn.
And it’s hard to overlook that new technology. While this is an indoor rollercoaster–trumpeted as one of the longest in the worst–it’s also a brand new theme park attraction using what Disney is calling Omnicoaster vehicles. Essentially, as the vehicle speeds along its track, it also turns to direct the attention of those riding to show scenes. Imagine a Haunted Mansion ride vehicle mounted to a rollercoaster track and you should have some idea. Those show scenes are the footage directed by Gunn, which is a wild trip through space as you and the Guardians fight Enos in an attempt to save the galaxy one more time. And if you think the coaster is going to take it easy because it has scenes to show you, don’t count on it. This is a seriously fast coaster that, while it doesn’t go upside down at any point, is exhilarating.
With that in mind, who else in the MCU could this coaster be about but the Guardians of the Galaxy? They’re a wild and rowdy bunch. And while we won’t see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 until the summer of 2023, Cosmic Rewind is the kind of sequel that makes sense in Phase 4. It’s simply a good time to sit down and enjoy the story without having to think too deeply about what it means for the next five movies–or rides, for that matter. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens May 27 at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.