HOW it started: “Welcome to the wonders of the Xandar Pavilion!”
How it’s going: A wild ride across the cosmos in the company of those rollicking Guardians Of The Galaxy.
But I should have known. Disney doesn’t create ordinary rides, hence their latest attraction was always likely to be spectacular.
And so it proved. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the attraction, and Walt Disney World’s Epcot park in Orlando is the location of this blockbuster ride that offers a first-of-its-kind rollercoaster experience.
With Volume 3 of the blockbuster Marvel superhero film franchise not out until May 2023, fans of Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket and Co can get their fill of galaxy-saving excitement with this all-new escapade.
It is billed as a storytelling coaster, but it’s really a gigantic dive into the world of the Guardians, where the Nova Empire’s planet, Xandar, has come calling on Earth.
But instead of a galactic expo of peace, love and goodwill to all life forms, the occasion has been hijacked by the evil Eson the Searcher, and mayhem ensues.
But don’t worry if you can’t tell your Groot from your Gamora, this ground-breaking attraction, which opens on May 27, is all about immersive thrills that come thick and fast without scaring Auntie Mabel.
In short, it’s something the whole family can enjoy, and marvel over.
The dimensions of the ride alone are mind-boggling.
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Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth, the 180ft-tall “golf-ball” ride narrated by Dame Judi Dench, would comfortably fit inside the Guardians Of The Galaxy building four times.
It would fill the Royal Albert Hall. Twice.
But it needs to be big because this is a galaxy-wide experience, as you’d expect from the epic adventures of these inter-planetary heroes.
The queueing area alone is a cosmic tour de force, and then the ride delivers the kind of non-stop, action-packed thrills that are the Guardians’ trademark.
As Disney show set designer Kevin Doxey told me: “This is a galactic chase through both space and time in the full, fun style of the Guardians Of The Galaxy.
"It’s going to be fast, it’s going to be hectic and it’s going to be full of their sense of humour.”
It also has the rip-roaring musical soundtrack from Star-Lord’s famous Mix Tape, which helps ensure that the ride genuinely rocks as it speeds through the cosmos.
But the true stars of this show are the cleverly designed ride cars, which can turn, spin and pivot as they race, making for a totally original experience inside the immensity of a building that only feels like the vastness of outer space.
One second you are facing forward into the clutches of Eson on the giant, all-encompassing screens, and the next you are shooting backwards powered by the forces of The Big Bang (because this is also time travel).
It is an absolute five-star “Wow!” from start to finish, and you will want to ride again and again to absorb the wealth of cinematic detail woven into this true Marvel of a coaster.
Not bowled over by the super-hero world? Don’t worry, Disney has plenty more to woo visitors as it continues its 50th anniversary celebrations through to March 2023.
The latest Cirque du Soleil show, Drawn To Life, is now on stage at Disney Springs, celebrating the art of animation with the kind of daredevil acrobatics and breathtaking grace that only the Cirque company can weave together.
More live entertainment is also coming back to life this summer.
Disney World finally shakes off the last traces of the pandemic and returns to its full catalogue of riveting set-pieces.
At the Magic Kingdom, the daily Festival of Fantasy parade is back in action after a two-year hiatus — complete with fire-breathing dragon.
And the epic extravaganza of the Fantasmic! nightly finale at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be revived with a new segment devoted to Disney princesses Elsa, Mulan and Moana.
Meanwhile, fans of Finding Nemo will be delighted to hear that Animal Kingdom will debut a reimagined version of its grand musical production dedicated to the little clownfish later this year.
Finding Nemo: The Big Blue … And Beyond! will incorporate new characters from the film as part of a retelling of the Nemo story.
Epcot will be celebrating more than just the Guardians Of The Galaxy as its three-year transformation comes to completion in 2023.
Where once the Innoventions plazas of new technology kept visitors amused, that section of the park will re-emerge next year as the World Celebration area, flanked by the new World Discovery (that’s Star-Lord and Co) and World Nature (with a walk-through Moana attraction).
In a major nod to Walt Disney himself, World Celebration will be highlighted by Dreamers Point, a special homage to the park’s founder, and an array of live entertainment venues that will bring new life to this central section.
So, whether you’re ready to return in 2022 or happier to wait until 2023, there’s no shortage of Disney magic for the happiest celebration on Earth.
Just be ready to save the galaxy, all over again!
Facts and figures
GUARDIANS Of The Galaxy film composer Tyler Bates created more than two HOURS of new music for the attraction.
There are six different soundtrack songs that accompany the ride, including I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls and Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears.
The main building covers more than 200,000sq ft and is longer than a football pitch.
The plaza in front of the ride features a full-size Xandarian Starblaster spacecraft.
It is the longest fully-enclosed ride in any Disney theme park and one of the longest indoor roller-coasters in the world.
Disney went on set at Guardians 3 to film with the stars, including Chris Pratt and Glenn Close, to record their parts in the new attraction.
COVID: Fully vaccinated travellers can enter with a negative PCR or lateral flow Covid test taken no more than one day before travel.
Kids aged 17 and under are exempt from vaccine requirement but those not fully vaccinated must take a test three to five days after arrival.
GETTING /STAYING THERE:
Virgin Atlantic Holidays has seven nights’ room-only at Disney’s All Star Resort from £1,609pp including Disney tickets and Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow on September 7, 2022.
See virginholidays.co.uk or 0344 472 9646.