How Disney Brought James Gunn’s ‘Swagger’ to Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster

This summer, the Guardians of the Galaxy are back in more ways than one! In addition to appearing in Thor: Love and Thunder This July, Marvel Studios’ favorite misfits are also the stars of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Return. Opening on May 27 at the EPCOT of Walt Disney World, Cosmic Rewind is revolutionary “coaster of stories”, allowing fans to save the galaxy alongside Star-Lord, Rocket and the rest of the crew.

The adventure begins when EPCOT guests step into the Wonders of Xandar pavilion to learn about Xandarian culture and its advanced technology. During a presentation, the Celestial Eson seizes Xandar’s Cosmic Generator in an attempt to turn back time; and it’s up to the visiting Earthlings – and the Guardians – to save the galaxy. Again.



While Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Return was a challenge in terms of its revolutionary rotating vehicles and reverse launch, bringing Guardians director James Gunn’s vision from the big screen to reality was another; and according to Disney Imagineering, it was one they were determined to pull off.

How Disney Incorporated James Gunn’s Style Into Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

When Disney invited The Direct to find out Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Return ahead of its May 27 debut, Imagineering explained that the translation of the guardians of the galaxysignature style – they called “swagger” – was incredibly important because it is so recognizable and inherent in ownership.

In addition to joining James Gunn on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to film the live footage of the ride, Disney Imagineering claimed they “checked in with Gunn” during the creation of the attraction and that the director was also involved in the “script reviews.” Surprisingly, Cosmic Rewind features an impressive 75 minutes of new original Guardians content.


Imagineering also shared that they “I watched the original Guardians a lot” to replicate the look and design of Xandar. In fact, they’ve included Xandarian forms and his physical language in just about everything, including the ride’s safety panels; and design elements of the Kyln from the 2014 film can also be seen in the ride building.​​​​​​

A new way to experience Gunn’s Guardians

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind

Even though Disney’s Marvel attractions aren’t considered canon and exist in their own timeline, EPCOT Cosmic Rewind is pure guardians of the galaxy fun and one hundred percent on brand with what fans saw on screen.

Disney has long been known for its authenticity and attention to detail at its theme parks, and Marvel fans will surely appreciate Imagineering’s commitment to bringing the cosmic world of James Gunn into ours.


However, this is not the first guardians of the galaxy theme park attraction created by Imagineering or that James Gunn and cast have been part of.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! opened at Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in 2017, paving the way for the park’s Avengers campus, which officially debuted in 2021.

But even so, it was important that Disney got Cosmic Rewind to the right. Not only is this the first MCU attraction built at Walt Disney World, but contractual issues mean it could be the last. Also, while Mission: Escape! takes place entirely inside the Collector’s Fortress, Cosmic Rewind was tasked with recreating elements of Xandar, depicting a huge celestial, and taking guests through the far reaches of space.


Despite such challenges, Disney seems to have pulled it off, giving fans a whole new way to experience a Marvel adventure that stays true to James Gunn’s cosmic corner of the MCU.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Return is set to open at EPCOT at Walt Disney World on May 27.