Disney’s Epcot needed an overhaul. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is here to save the day


 Disney's Epcot needed an overhaul.  Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is here to save the day

The company enlists the help of a group of intergalactic villains. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a state-of-the-art indoor roller coaster featuring the popular superheroes who debuted in the 2014 film, opened at the Florida theme park on Friday.

It’s not just any everyday attraction. This coaster is key to future-proofing Disney’s Parks business.

Epcot is undergoing the “biggest transformation in its history,” the company said. Cosmic Rewind — an attraction that has reportedly cost $500 million — is central to this change.

Disney is integrating a synergy strategy with Marvel, one of the company’s most popular movie brands, to bolster a fundamental part of its business while updating one of its geekiest theme parks.

The strategy

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a new rollercoaster ride at EPCOT.
Disney’s focus is on streaming, with the latest earnings report focusing heavily on Disney+ and its 137.7 million subscribers. But investing in its resorts remains critical for Disney, as it offers the company a deeper connection with consumers that its streaming competitors can’t reach.

“Streaming gives Disney an everyday presence in the lives of its consumers, but Parks frees Disney’s minds for those consumers in a way no pre-recorded media ever can,” Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com, told CNN Business. “A visit to a park or a cruise becomes a lifetime memory for millions of consumers – something that fosters a lifelong affinity with the Disney brand.”

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is Disney's newest state-of-the-art attraction.
The ride comes as Disney parks recover from two terrible years. The company’s resorts have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, losing billions of dollars.

But the segment made $6.6 billion in revenue in the second quarter of this year — more than double a year ago.

The company has spent the last few years updating its resorts around the world, often making use of its popular franchises. These include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney World in 2019 and Marvel’s Avengers Campus at California Adventure in Anaheim, California in 2021.

Now it’s Epcot’s turn. Type “Cosmic Rewind”.

The ride

EPCOT is in the middle of an overhaul.

Epcot offers other exciting rides like Test Track, but it’s never been considered Disney World’s most exciting resort. Rather, this award belongs to Hollywood Studios, their theme park with rides based on Star Wars and The Twilight Zone.

In fact, the original Epcot was not intended to be a theme park at all, but rather Walt Disney’s proposed futuristic neighborhood known as the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” Hence the abbreviation.

Marvel is the biggest name in entertainment, and now Disney is using it to boost its resort business to attract families who might have found the park’s previous iteration a bit boring.

Disney gave CNN Business a first look at the ride, and “Cosmic Rewind” is anything but boring. The rotating roller coaster matches the fun of the series, whose two films have grossed more than $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office.

In fact, it’s less of a ride and more of living in your own Marvel movie.

Guests are immersed in a story that unfolds from the moment they queue. Once on board, the roller coaster weaves through a battle between the Guardians and a giant projection of a celestial space set to hit songs like Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” which fit the film’s disco vibe.

That full immersion is exactly the point, according to Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We’re looking for the next level of storytelling, where our guests can immerse themselves in their favorite stories in a whole new way,” D’Amaro told CNN Business.

“As Walt always said, Epcot should always be in a state of becoming and it has never stayed the same,” he added. “Our goal is to keep this special park dynamic, alive and nostalgic, but ready for the future.”

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