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Thinking About Using Disney’s Lightning Lane For GOTG: Cosmic Rewind At Epcot? The Reason To Avoid It Has Nothing To Do With The Price

Footage from ride cam on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 2022
(Image credit: Walt Disney World Parks)

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the sexy, brand-new ride at Walt Disney World. It has all the new bells and whistles, an original ride system and the awesome Marvel Cinematic Universe to pull its story from. As with most recent new rides at Disney World, there are two ways to get on board: the Virtual Queue and the Individual Lightning Lane. One option costs money, the other does not, which might be enough to determine how you try to ride it, but there is more reason than price to avoid the Lightning Lane, as you miss a lot of the experience.

While the Virtual Queue will have you waiting for around 30 minutes after your boarding group is called to actually get on the ride, and the Lightning Lane basically drops you into the pre-show, that 30 minutes is valuable for anybody who wants to have the full Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind experience. Hear me out.

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind reverse launch

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

The Virtual Queue Vs. The Individual Lightning Lane

If you want to get on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, you’ll need to make some decisions before you ever get to the park. The virtual queue system is free to all guests, but spots go quickly and you can’t choose when you’ll ride. You have to use the My Disney Experiences app to jump into the queue when slots are made available, either at 7 am or at 1 pm, and hope you get a spot.

The Individual Lightning Lane costs extra money, namely around $15 per person, but it gives you a bit more control about when you ride. If you’re staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you can grab a Lightning Lane spot at 7 am. Otherwise, if there are any left, you can grab a spot when Epcot opens for the day. The additional cost however, at least in theory means that this option is a bit easier to get, as most people will go for the free option first. Many dislike the Lightning Lane option on principle because it charges guests more money for an already expensive vacation, but there's another reason not to use it: you miss half the experience.

The purpose of the Individual Lightning Lane is to allow guests to skip the line; that’s what you get for the money you spend, and there’s no argument that you get what you pay for on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The Lightning Lane entrance drops you directly into the first pre-show room and skips the entirety of the queue. This sets it apart from most of the Genie+ attractions, as most of them still have some sort of wait.

Terry Crews and Glenn Close in the pre-show for Epcot's Cosmic Rewind

(Image credit: Jessica Rawden)

What You See In The Queue For Guardians Of The Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 

But that’s the problem, because the queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a pretty incredible thing to see, and not seeing it cheapens the overall experience of the attraction itself. Cosmic Rewind’s storytelling begins in the queue as the attraction takes the concept of the World Showcase nation pavilion of Epcot and extends it into the fictional. The attraction is a pavilion designed by the people of the planet Xandar to show the people of Earth what their world is about. As you weave through the line, you seen various models and displays telling you about the history, culture and technology of this alien world.

When you eventually do arrive in the first pre-show room, Glenn Close appears on the screen as Nova Prime, reprising her role from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and she talks about everything you have just seen. The problem is, if you paid $15 for the Lightning Lane, you didn’t actually get to see it.

The honest truth is that even the virtual queue short changes you on the full experience. You'll wait about 30 minutes once you get in line with the virtual queue option, but even that means you'll be skipping part of the queue early in the show building, which has its own presentation that you might never see. 

It's a bit of an ironic situation. If you've never ridden Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind before, you'll probably be more willing to spend that money to make sure you do. Once you've had the experience once,  while there are multiple songs to experience during the ride, you may be less willing to spend extra money on it. But the truth is that paying to skip the queue is, at best, more worth it only after you've stood in line once.

Rocket, Groot and Peter Quill head to help Xandar save Earth in Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

(Image credit: Disney)

Not All Lightning Lanes Are Created Equal

This is significantly different then some other Lightning Lane attractions. As another major example, Rise of the Resistance will also basically drop you right into the beginning of the attraction if you spend the money. You get dropped in a large room and then the door opens and you see the hologram of Rey that starts things off. 

Once again, you get what you pay for. The difference here is that, while the Rise of the Resistance queue isn’t without its charm, showing a Resistance base that’s been built into a cave system, complete with uniforms, helmets and other supplies in cases, is all static. You’re not missing nearly as much by skipping this one. The queue here creates an atmosphere, but it doesn't tell a story.

A lot of people dislike the Individual Lightning Lane option because it charges money for what was once free at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It also charges money separately from the Genie+ service, which allows guests to skip lines on many other attractions. It would make sense for the vacationing family to bite the bullet and spend the extra money on something like Cosmic Rewind as a way of making sure they don’t miss out. This is exactly what Disney wants you to do.

But be aware that while the Lightning Lane will get you on the ride itself, it will not give you the full experience. For that you’ll need to take your shot with the virtual queue, at least until the Virtual Queue goes away and a standby line takes over, which will almost certainly happen eventually. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.