The Marvel Cinematic Universe's success can be seen far outside the franchise's box office return and the incredible fan reception. Marvel Studios' movies and Disney+ shows have also served as inspiration for exciting merchandise and thrilling fan attractions, largely at Disney theme parks all over the world.
2021 held the grand opening for one of these new attractions, Avengers Campus, at Disneyland's California Adventure in Anaheim, California. Building on the "Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!" ride that replaced the Tower of Terror, the park now features in-depth experiences like "WEB SLINGERS - A Spider-Man Adventure" alongside Marvel-based eating options like Hank Pym's Test Kitchen.
Disney World's Epcot is also taking inspiration from this endeavor with the "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" roller coaster currently in development. While the in-story ride will certainly be a fun tribute to the Guardians' adventures in the MCU, the movies' director recently confirmed that it will stand on its own two feet with its narrative.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Not In the MCU
Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy director James Gunn took to Twitter to offer some details on the "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" ride coming to Epcot in Disney World next year. Gunn is directing material that will be included in the ride during filming for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
@goof715 asked when the ride's story takes place in relation to its MCU counterpart since it includes Adult Groot rather than Baby Groot, to which Gunn confirmed that "It’s in its own universe."
The same Twitter user pressed further on the matter by asking if this means Vol. 3 will include Adult Groot before Gunn reaffirmed the ride's non-MCU-canon status :
"This is not Vol 3 - it is Cosmic Rewind, which is its own thing."
Shortly after the theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in May 2017, Gunn had teased plans for rides like "Mission - BREAKOUT" and explaining how rides like this and "Cosmic Rewind" exist in their own separate universe away from the MCU:
"'Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAOUT!' is the beginning of a new, separate & fun theme park universe & is not canon to the MCU.
Guardians Disney Rides In Their Own Universe
When Marvel teamed up with Disney's theme parks to bring the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy to new attractions, it was confirmed that the events in the MCU would have no effect on the in-park story. While this mainly means that the Mad Titan Thanos's Snap from Avengers: Infinity War never happened and that heroes who are gone in the MCU timeline are alive and well in this real-world attraction.
"Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!" first proved this to be true upon its introduction in 2017.
The ride stays impressively true to its MCU counterpart by using the Guardians' core backstories in material that riders see upon entering, including story beats like Gamora's complicated relationship with her adoptive father Thanos. Then, everything changes once the ride begins as the team is imprisoned as a part of the Collector's exhibit, forcing them to escape Knowhere and bring riders along for the journey.
While the story beats for "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" are still under wraps, this same tactic will be used, keeping Star-Lord and his teammates in an adevnture that doesn't tie into their MCU narrative. There's a chance they may have met Thor and fought Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, but it will have no bearing on what happens on the roller-coaster itself.
With this ride coming just a few months before the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and about a year before Vol. 3, fans will have just enough Guardians content in this ride to hold off the anticipation for the MCU's newest cosmic thrills.
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" is set to open in Disney World's Epcot in Summer 2022.