Iconic Imagineer Joe Rohde Speaks Out on ‘Guardians’ Coaster Controversy

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joe rohde

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the latest addition to EPCOT, scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend. Despite the excitement, some fans have been disappointed with the ride, especially its location in EPCOT.

EPCOT, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, started as Walt Disney’s dream to have a future-focused city where people could live, work, and enjoy world-class experiences. Over the years, it has evolved into a celebration of the future, earth’s natural beauty, the vastness of space, and cultures from around the world.

Credit: @TheHorizoneer

Rewind: VIDEO: New ‘Guardians’ Coaster Pays Tribute to EPCOT’s Forgotten Past

EPCOT fans have long-questioned the addition of Intellectual Properties to the Disney Park, as it intentionally opened without them, instead focusing on the wonders of learning and imagination. Over the years, to critical fan response, EPCOT has replaced Norway’s Maelstrom with Frozen Ever After, added character meet-and-greets around the theme Park, and, most recently, recreated Disneyland Paris’ beloved Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure dark ride in France.

Though fans who have been able to preview the ride have overwhelmingly enjoyed it, some EPCOT fans are still uncertain that it fits in the Park. Some of them took to Twitter this week to ask Disney Imagineering Icon Joe Rohde what he thought of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind’s place at EPCOT.

Joe Rohde explorer outfit
Credit: D23

Joe Rohde is best known for being the lead designer of Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Though retired, many Disney fans look to his expert opinion when a new attraction or experience opens at not just Animal Kingdom, but any one of the Disney Parks.

User @Millionaire2K Tweeted Rohde, asking:

@Joe_Rohde Please chime in on the GotG in Epcot debate! What’s your thoughts? Oh, and have u ridden?

Joe Rohde
Credit: Disney

Rohde replied that he hasn’t ridden, given that he’s enjoying life in California post-retirement. He asked fans to clarify more on the debate before he’d chime in:

I don’t know anything about a debate. Also (Retired. Live in California.) what’s the gist?

User @BillZanetti explained some Disney fans’ concerns about the theming to Rohde and said fans trusted his opinion because of his work on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission: Breakout, which replaced Tower of Terror at Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure Park and is widely popular. He wrote:

I think that people want to know your opinion on it because they know you had the Marvel Creative Portfolio at one time, and you led Mission: Breakout through an extraordinarily fast process. The new offering at Epcot had a lot more time to develop and the debate is “fit”…

‘Avatar’ producer Jon Landau and Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde collaborated to create Pandora.

Rohde replied, stating that you have to find a balance between how well done the coaster is and how well it fits into not EPCOT’s past, but it’s current Intellectual Property initiatives:

So then the question is not necessarily how well does this express Epcot as it was, but rather how well does it address the mandate to use IP in the context of Epcot. You have to parse between “Is it well done?” versus “Is it addressing a valid initiative?” Don’t smush.

A fan (@gatortebowfan15) who rode Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Walt Disney World praised the coaster, saying that while it might not fit into Walt’s initial vision for EPCOT, he thinks it’s going to be a success:

I can report I was able to ride Guardians at EPCOT Center over the weekend. I know it may not fit into the original educational theme of the park, but let’s give Walt Disney Imagineering some credit, it’s a really great attraction. I’m sure it’s going to very popular.

EPCOT cosmic rewind with spaceship earth
Credit: Disney

Rohde quoted this response, praising Tom Fitzgerald, an Imagineer that initiated and developed Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. He wrote that his own opinion on the ride shouldn’t matter since only those who have ridden it should be involved in the debate:

Tom Fitzgerald is a great Imagineer with a great nose for popular consumption. He initiated and developed this project. I would therefore believe that the attraction is great, having not seen it in person. The debate should be constrained to those who have.

User @derekjcole expressed that he feels there’s a split in the Disney Parks fan community between people who have ridden the ride and those who haven’t:

Seems like those that have been on it love it and those on Twitter that have not hate it. Who are we to believe?

Onboard Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Credit: Disney

Rohde gave one last opinion on the subject by quoting this Tweet, stating that the most essential part of any Disney Parks attraction is to make Guests happy. He wrote:

Yes. The ultimate ultimate goal is to bring happiness. Are people happy?

Time will tell what Joe Rohde thinks when he has the opportunity to visit EPCOT and ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind!

Guardians of the galaxy cosmic rewind
Credit: Disney

Have you had the chance to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT? What do you think of its place in the Park? 

If you want to visit Walt Disney World on your next family vacation to experience any of the four Disney Parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — but aren’t sure where to begin planning, then don’t hesitate to reach out to our friends over at the Authorized Disney Vacation Planners at Academy Travel for a free quote.

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