‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to bring new energy to Epcot

The long-in-the-works thrill ride should open during “The Most Magical Celebration on Earth”

Concept art for Epcot's new headliner attraction: "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind." (Disney)

BAY LAKE, Fla. – When “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” officially debuts, Epcot will be one of the hearts of Disney’s 50th as it is in the midst of as high-dollar, multi-multi-year reinvention by Imagineers and Disney brass.

It’s no secret the new permanent replacement for “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” will be featured, along with the first new addition to World Showcase since “Frozen Ever After” took over Norway’s “Maelstrom” ride in 2016. Too bad the pandemic pulled the plug on the original well-laid plans.

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Select Disney cast members have already enjoyed a “squeak peek” of the new “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” ride in Epcot’s France pavilion. Annual Passholders, still fuming from news of imminent price hikes and benefit cuts, will get their chance starting this weekend. I am looking forward to trying it out. By all accounts, it is a fun ride. Likely the equivalent of a D-Ticket from the old Magic Kingdom/Disneyland ticket books.

It was not, however, originally intended to be a thrust of the 50th. While new to Florida, the original has been operating daily at the “Walt Disney Studios” park in Paris since 2014. “Remy” should have been shrinking guests to mouse-size starting last year. It has been complete and ready to operate for most of this year.

The grand opening for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is set for Oct. 1, 2021, at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The family-friendly attraction makes guests feel as if they shrink to the size of Chef Remy as they scurry through Gusteau’s restaurant. It will open in an expanded section of the park’s France pavilion and will open as part of the 50th anniversary celebration for Walt Disney World. (Matt Stroshane, photographer) (Disney)

Disney held it back for the 50th, to tout something exciting. What’s more thrilling than a ride based on a 2007 Pixar film that didn’t exactly set the box office on fire? How about a tie-in to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” one of the most surprisingly successful entries in the astoundingly lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Logo for Epcot's new headliner attraction: "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind." (Disney)

When “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” closed approximately 1,490 days ago, everyone — Imagineers included — expected to have its replacement ready to go for Oct. 1, 2021, if not many months before. After all, EPCOT Center itself went from groundbreaking to opening day in about 1,095 days. However, despite the immense setbacks due to the pandemic, we have a brief update on the progress of construction.

EPCOT Center's original "Universe of Energy" attraction ca. 1982 (Disney)

On his Instagram feed, Epcot’s lead Imagineer Zach Riddley announced a statue of Guardians members Rocket and Groot will be part of the “Disney Fab 50 Character Collection” of golden statues scattered through Disney’s four major Florida theme parks.

Golden statue of Rocket and Groot will be part of the "Most Magical Celebration on Earth" celebration of Walt Disney World's 50th (Disney)

During that announcement, he said, “We are deep in the final stages of preparing our first ‘Other-World Showcase’ pavilion at EPCOT: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.” While that is not much of a clue when it will actually open, work has noticeably picked up on the exterior.

Construction on "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" At Epcot (Disney)

Inside my understanding is the coaster track has long been complete inside the massive new gravity building that seems to dwarf the original “Universe of Energy,” a building once described as pharaonic by Walt’s nephew Roy E. Disney.

Part of the coaster track for Epcot's new headliner attraction: "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind." (Disney)

We do know, from D23 and other presentations, that Epcot’s first roller coaster aims to tell a story along with the drops. It is no accident the coaster train cars resemble the people-eating omnimover rides used in most of EPCOT Center’s original adventures, including the World of Motion (now Test Track is in that spot), Spaceship Earth and Journey Into Imagination.

A coaster car from Epcot's new headliner attraction: "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind." (Disney)
Disney Imagineers inspect some of the show scenery for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the new attraction in development inside EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The out-of-this-world coaster experience will take guests on a thrilling adventure across the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy. (David Roark, photographer) (Disney)

The ride system is designed to rotate guests to face whatever Imagineers want you to see. Let’s hope it will feature some amazing animatronics like its California counterpart, “Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout.”

Guardians of the Galaxy--Mission: BREAKOUT! The exterior of The Collector's Fortress shimmers as night falls at Disney California Adventure Park. The all-new attraction Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission: BREAKOUT! will take guests through the Fortress of The Collector, who is keeping his newest acquisitions, the Guardians of the Galaxy, as prisoners. Guests will board a gantry lift which launches them into a daring adventure as they join Rocket in an attempt to set free his fellow Guardians. The epic new adventure blasts guests straight into the “Guardians of the Galaxy” story for the first time, alongside characters from the blockbuster films and comics. As guests join Rocket in his attempt to bust his pals out of The Collector’s Fortress, they will experience randomized ride experiences complete with new visual and audio effects and music inspired by the popular film soundtracks. (Rob Sparacio/Disneyland Resort) (©2017 MARVEL/Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For editorial news use only.)

While Epcot’s Guardians attraction will tell a completely different story, one involving aliens from the planet Xandar (wasn’t that wiped out by Thanos?) coming to Earth to showcase “the wonders and mysteries of our galaxy and galaxies beyond, ” according to Riddley.

Concept art for an early scene of "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind." (Disney)

Industry insiders claim “Cosmic Rewind” will be one of the most expensive attractions in theme park history, perhaps around half the cost of all of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.” Like the other delayed 50th headliner attraction, “Tron: Lightcycle Run” in the Magic Kingdom, “Cosmic Rewind” should open sometime during the 18-month celebration. We will keep you posted as new details come in.

Disney 50

To all who come to this happy corner of ClickOrlando.com, welcome! Walt Disney World is counting down to its 50th Anniversary, and so are we. With 50 days until 50 years, we are taking a daily look back at the past, how Disney’s opening shaped Central Florida’s present, and a peek at what’s in store for the future.

We’re also looking to hear your memories of Walt Disney World: What do you love? What do you miss? What are some of your magical moments? You can share them with us by sending us an email and we’ll post them all for everyone to enjoy. Some might even be featured during our News 6 TV coverage of Walt Disney World’s 50th.

Here’s to dreaming, and here’s to another half-century of The Most Magical Place on Earth!

About the Author:

Ken Pilcher is a lifelong Floridian with more than 30 years in journalism experience. He joined News 6 in 2003 and has covered Central Florida attractions and theme parks since 1988. He currently produces News 6 at 7 p.m.