‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind’: What It Takes to Bring a Family-Thrill Attraction to Life
Go behind-the-scenes of the brand new attraction at EPCOT!
What does it take to bring something as grand as the Guardians of the Galaxy film and characters life? Well, first of all, you’re going to need some amazing tunes, a huge space, and a dedicated team of individuals working together to try and match the scope — and humor and heart — of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot, and more.
Ahead of the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort, Marvel.com chatted with Spencer Lynn, a producer on the attraction, and Kassandra Rose, color and design artisan for Walt Disney Imagineering, about working behind-the-scenes to create the family-thrill ride located in the first-ever other-world Pavilion: the Wonders of Xandar.
My first question is simple: can you explain your roles?
SPENCER LYNN: As producer, we're tasked with making sure we get across the finish line and deliver on what we said we were going to deliver. And I think in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, we've done that.
KASSANDRA ROSE: As a color designer and artisan, we are in charge of all of the color and finishes that you see, exterior and interior. We work on the Starblaster, we're working inside all of the scenic treatments that you see, even the ride vehicles. Any UV blacklight paint that you see inside the ride.
When you take on a project like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, where do you start? How do you take the idea and actually create what we see now?
SPENCER LYNN: Everything starts with the story. We take the amazing story of the Guardians of the Galaxy that everyone's grown to love, and then we combine it with the amazing technology that we know how to do, which is, in this case, the Omnicoaster, and a lot of other things throughout the pavilion as a whole. That's what led us to where we are today.
KASSANDRA ROSE: My starting point is always the story. So, going back to the authentic story, the Guardian story, and then trying to figure out how do we subconsciously tell that story to guests? As an artist, and focusing on paint and color, I don't get to use words or sounds. Everything you see with the finishes, the way they react in the light with projection, the other teams, that really comes together and is integrated through that process.
All of the Guardians we know and love have very specific color schemes, which I can see represented throughout the attraction. Can you talk about like, matching that? When we see the ship, we know that's associated with Star-Lord.
KASSANDRA ROSE: All of those little nods that you see, we have thoroughly planned out and worked with all of our partners. We do want you to understand, like I said, subconsciously, ‘oh yes, that belongs to that. This belongs to this.’ But we also wanted to create an environment, that, even if you've never seen the film, you kind of know and understand going through the queue that this story is specific to EPCOT.
This is an attraction like I've never been on before, and I've honestly been trying to describe it. Can you try and describe it? For someone who hasn't experienced the attraction, what would you say about it?
SPENCER LYNN: It is a family-thrill coaster that features Disney's first-ever reverse launch, so it's very unique in how you move through this phase. With that omnicoaster technology, we're actually pointing you to all the story elements that we want you to see and ensuring that you don't miss anything the whole way through. But if I had to put in one word, which is always the next question, fun. Fun is the key to all of this.
KASSANDRA ROSE: If I had to put it in one word, I think it would have to be thrilling. When I rode it for the first time, I was really shocked at how amazing and new this is for Walt Disney World. I had never been on a coaster like this before.
Do you have a favorite moment throughout the coaster, or even the queue?
SPENCER LYNN: My favorite moment is here in the Wonders of Xandar pavilion, when there is some amazing magic that happens, and we teleport you straight from EPCOT up to a Nova ship orbiting above Earth.
KASSANDRA ROSE: My favorite moment is actually before you come in, when you see the Star Blaster in all its glory, so that is really exciting for the guests.
I know one of the big things about this new other-world showcase pavilion is that it's a lot of history. There were things here that came before this. Can you talk about, including some of those nods to past things and integrating them in here? I never thought I would hear Star-Lord say, “veggie, veggie, fruit, fruit.”
SPENCER LYNN: From the beginning, we knew this was going to be an EPCOT story, and had to be an EPCOT narrative that makes sense in this park. Some of the really fun things that we've sprinkled throughout, which— I can't spoil them, because when you stumble upon them, it's so worth it. But Peter Quill visited here in 1987, and he definitely inspired Xandarians to come here, and leave a few of those Easter eggs along the way. It's super cool to have characters that live in the real world and were able to experience EPCOT at one point, and I can't wait to see if that means anything longer term.
What do you hope guests take away from this as a whole experience? As soon as they're off the ride, how do you want them to feel?
KASSANDRA ROSE: I think, as soon as they get off the ride, I want them to come back. There's so much here in the pavilion, and once you get on the attraction, every time you come, you're going to see something different.
SPENCER LYNN: I'll go back to the fun. I hope that people say, that is the most fun I've had in a long time. Between the fun that the Guardians offer as characters and the thrill of a coaster, it's like a winning combination. And if and if they come off and they say, I want to do it again, then yeah, do it again and again and again.
How do you hope the Guardians kind of change the landscape here at EPCOT?
SPENCER LYNN: Well, it's an exciting time at EPCOT, right? We're in the middle of this multiyear transformative era, and the Guardians are a part of that. And I think that's really cool that they get to be incorporated into this overall look at the park, and have kind of a lasting mark.
Over at Disneyland, we've got Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission - BREAKOUT. Why do you think a family-thrill coaster is perfect for EPCOT, here and now?
SPENCER LYNN: Again, go back to the technology. It's really amazing that we were able to develop this Omnicoaster, and there are a lot of great stories out there. But to be able to use the Guardians and combine those two things together, that's really unique. And I think that's really the thing that pushed us over the edge.
KASSANDRA ROSE: And I think that really ties into a lot of the themes of EPCOT. Advancing technology, innovation, and bringing cultures together. So, this pavilion and this attraction really just kind of embodies that.
What do you have to say to the guests who are going to ride it six-plus times to try and get every single song?
SPENCER LYNN: You're probably going to have to do it six or seven or eight or nine or 10.
KASSANDRA ROSE: Or more.
SPENCER LYNN: The song makes a huge difference. They're all great, they're all fun. But they're all fun for different reasons. It's like picking your favorite seat, everyone's got a different favorite for different reasons. I think it's everyone's going to have a different answer for what their favorite song is.
KASSANDRA ROSE: It's amazing the effect the music has on your experience, seriously. When we were testing out the songs, hundreds of songs, everyone was like, wow, this is a totally different experience with these songs, so that's why we really worked hard on picking the ones that we did. And I'm excited for the guests to find their favorite.
SPENCER LYNN: And there were a lot of songs that we went through and thought, oh, that'll work. And then as soon as we put on the ride, it's like, hm. Maybe not. And then there were others that totally came out of nowhere-
KASSANDRA ROSE: And surprised us.
Do you have favorite songs?
KASSANDRA ROSE: Mine was one of the first that we put on, “September.” I was like, is that going to work? That really stuck with me, we've had it, I think, since the beginning, so I love it.
SPENCER LYNN: Yeah, “September” is definitely one of my favorites. “Conga” is super fun. I think it's the surprise of the group, and it's so fun to dance along to.
KASSANDRA ROSE: I'm dancing the whole ride when that one's on.
All right, last question: Is there anything you'd like to say to Guardians fans?
KASSANDRA ROSE: I would say you're definitely in for a treat. This is a really special story for Guardians, specifically for EPCOT. You're not going to get it anywhere else.
SPENCER LYNN: It is the hardest experience to describe to someone, and the only way to really understand it is to come to it yourself.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a brand new, family-thrill coaster developed by Walt Disney Imagineers just for this attraction. It’s an Omnicoaster that will amaze guests as it rotates 360 degrees throughout the attraction so the focus is always on the action, and additionally will feature a reverse launch on a coaster, never before seen in Disney Parks. It is also one of the longest enclosed coasters in the world, which means it lives up to and matches the enormous scale of adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy films!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens May 27th at EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort.
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