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Hello and welcome to this week's edition of Theme Park News! We're talking all about Disney's wild new ride, news from coast to coast and even a surprise from Disneyland Paris. Here's everything you need to know and may have missed!:
DISNEY HAS ENTERED THE THRILL RIDE CHAT
If you're attune to theme park news, you likely already know the early word on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the new roller coaster opening at Walt Disney World on May 27th, has been overwhelmingly positive. Disney has a huge hit on their hands with this a reverse-launch Marvel-themed coaster that also happens to be one of the largest indoor coasters in the world.
Frankly put, it's a whole lotta ride. As intense as it is massive, Cosmic Rewind remains an unprecedented amount of fun heretofore not really seen within Epcot. (And no, Mission: SPACE is not fun and I will not hear otherwise!) I began my first ride fearful that I'd walk off wobbly or nauseous — or worse, unimpressed, but what I felt can only be described as a kind of religious experience, both overwhelming and unforgettable. Once I could wrap my brain around its scale, I was able to appreciate the ride in a new way, but it remained ecstatically fun and free from the diminishing returns I had incorrectly anticipated. (That nausea I speak of is real, though. This coaster is triggering for people with motion sickness, so heed my advice and pop the Dramamine!)
Personally speaking, whenever I review a new ride, I have certain requirements including a non-negotiable amount of times I need to sit on board before I write a single word. I plopped my butt into that seat seventeen times total not for research but because I…had to go back on. I HAD to go back ON. I skipped coffee, lunch, water, even the bathroom just to keep riding while attending a media preview, reaching such joyous highs that I found myself dancing in my seat and desperately trying to squeeze in one more ride prior to my flight home the next day.
Given that Disney folk are one of the most difficult-to-please fandoms, the ride's reception is nothing short of a triumph. If you're on the fence about it, I've penned a little guide to help with just that — including answers to some popular questions:
But, the real story here isn't about how this coaster is a banger worth booking a trip around, which it is. It's almost more significant of a triumph considering how badly Epcot, and Walt Disney World as a whole, needed an attraction like this.
You see, Universal Orlando Resort has always positioned themselves as the spot in town for themed high-octane thrills. Just take a look at that ad campaign from a few years back, geared towards kids growing up and out of Fantasyland fun. Disney is known for combining theming, intellectual property and family-friendly experiences while Universal? Universal has positioned itself as where you go for real fun, for scary fun, for flips and drops and physical frights. Cosmic Rewind, though, closes the gap and brings us back to a pre-pandemic time of Disney and Universal battling it out for Orlando-bound consumers, leaving them torn on which new park experience to plan around next.
Not to give you a piss-poor lesson in market share and economics and the benefits of competition — I barely paid attention in statistics class because I was on Tumblr, so I simply cannot — the significance of this coaster goes far beyond it being the first Marvel attraction within one of Disney World's theme parks. It officially places Disney in competition yet again with this new attraction jam-packed with the kind of thrills Universal has cornered the market on in recent years.
Of course, not every single ride at Universal Orlando Resort is a high-octane masterpiece, but Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure breathed new life into Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley when it debuted in 2019 with on-board surprises, a shocking speed, and the most interesting ride vehicles (motorbikes and sidecars!) to date. Followed by Velocicoaster's opening — a, pardon my language, balls-to-the-wall good time that pushes the limits to a jaw-dropping level, even for folks who enjoy coasters — Universal solidified itself as the place for themed thrills, as Disney rolled out more thematic experiential attractions.
Because, really, what has Disney World put out lately that some would consider "scary"? The company ideology of putting storytelling first has, as of late, been primarily exhibited through trackless ride vehicles on Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and, yes, even Rise of the Resistance. (2018's Slinky Dog Dash, the newest coaster at Disney World, has a secondary launch but is more playful and glee-inducing than anything.) It's a sweet spot of family-friendly enjoyment and thematic experience that serves them well — but if you want to feel the rush of a roller coaster, especially on Velocicoaster and Hagrid's, you're bound to consider even just a day at Universal Orlando Resort.
Most of Disney's true roller coasters, the ones with big drops or inversions, are classics at this point. Expedition Everest, whose show-stopping backwards drop and detailed design are still among Disney's all-time best, opened in 2006; Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Disney's most aggressive thrill ride second only to one that had on-board barf bags, opened a whopping 22 years ago.
So, having an absolute banger of a ride that combines true coaster thrills, a franchise that fans are over the moon for and a party-like atmosphere solidifies Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind not just the flavor of the month but one of the most significant rides at Disney World. And, right behind that comes Tron LightCycle Run, a dupe of Shanghai's futuristic ride that, as someone who has experienced it firsthand, is a surefire hit, officially putting Disney back in the coaster game for years to come.
What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, a bunch of fantastic new attractions for anyone who is making their return trip to Orlando since the pandemic began. But even more so, with Universal's new Epic Universe on the way, proof that the future of Floridian theme parks is going to be packed with worthy new rides, and in the coaster wars between both resorts, we're the ones who benefit.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- These theme park hotel rankings from USA Today may surprise you…!
- I adore these D23 Inside Disney video podcast episodes, and the Guardians of the Galaxy one they just did is excellent. It feels like a throwback to Disney Channel specials inside the parks!
- We got a sneak peek at merchandise for sale aboard the forthcoming Disney Wish cruise ship.
- Universal Orlando is hiring for over 5,000 positions this summer, including full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs. (Dang!)
- If you're into Epic Universe rumors and news, well, I'm going to point you over to Orlando Park Stop for some new details.
- Disneyland Resort is honoring AANHPI Heritage Month with musical performances, a Turning Red photo op, Main Street window display and more. Don't miss the nightly ukulele music and complimentary hula lessons each weekend at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar!
- Heading to Knott's Berry Farm this summer? Get ready to rock — DJ Lance Rock, that is.
- I went out of town and completely missed Mickey Mouse lighting up the Eiffel Tower!? What!!!
- LEGOLAND California is debuting its first-ever Ferrari attraction this week, complete with a Ferrari F40 built from LEGOs. Cool!
- Adventures by Disney just announced new 2023 trips to Sicily and the British Isles, so yeah, I know what I'll be daydreaming about!
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
This will be my last issue of Theme Park News at SYFY WIRE! I've had a wonderful time over the past three years and am so grateful for the time I've spent here and everyone I've worked with.
If you've liked what you've read here, you can keep up with my many (many, many) theme park musings over on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, as well as on my theme park podcast, Very Amusing with Carlye Wisel. Happy trails!