A recent Disney patent uncovered for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster at Epcot can give us a lot of insight as to what kind of ride is in store. Ever since the Universe of Energy (or Ellen’s Energy Adventure) closed in August 2017, there has been quite a bit of speculation as to what the experience will be like. While we don’t have an exact breakdown of scenes and show elements, we now have a good idea of how the ride is going to flow.
Seemingly without question, this ride will be compared to Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida. Let’s jump into the patents to find out why!
First, let’s look at the patent. According to drawings that were filed, a roller coaster system that had the ability of spinning the car 360-degrees is the basic premise. More interesting, the charging system to do so could line up with the undercarriage of the car to charge it in various positions in the ride. This prevents it from needing an electric busbar to power it continuously. It also means the cars will need batteries and a few docking stations. This will be most likely located at load/unload and a few key show scenes.
Naturally, people are going to start comparing the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts since both rides feature similar turning mechanisms to have the coaster car face a controlled direction at any given point along the track. In other words, if the goal is to get you to face a screen, the car turns in an appropriate direction. If the designers want your car to “spin out of control,” they can do that as well at the exact same speed and spin every single time.
Now, why would you want to face a particular section of the show building? Simple: screens. Like it or not, there is no way this ride won’t be filled with screens built into the show sets featuring StarLord, Groot, Rocket and the gang. What might those show scenes be like? I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to consider Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout as a good indicator of how those scenes might flow.
Using a similar style of animation, character development and even soundtrack, I’m willing to bet that the new Guardians coaster will be very, very, very similar to Mission Breakout. After all, those projects were in development around the same time. So why start from scratch when similar design work has already been done and those characters have already been created digitally?
However, one can’t claim that the track layout for this new Guardians coaster will be anything like Gringotts. Here is part of the description according to Disney’s patent:
There remains a need for a new gravity-based roller coaster design that allows a passenger compartment to be provided motion, including yaw, in addition to its travel along the [direction of travel] defined by the track. Preferably, these roller coasters would facilitate maintenance and provide the motion in any section of the track including corners and areas where vehicles are traveling at higher rates of speed while falling due to gravity (or stored potential energy being converted into kinetic energy) and where it is impractical to provide busbar systems.
This actually hints that the drops in this particular ride will be fairly substantial. On the other hand, Gringotts doesn’t have many drops, and the ones that do have aren’t that big compared to other indoor coasters. In a coaster that could have even one major drop, having a busbar to power anything would not only be inefficient, it would also create a lot of wear and tear on that busbar and the undercarriage of the coaster.
Here’s what we won’t see: tilting track pieces. As many of you who have ridden Escape From Gringott’s know, there are brief “simulator-esque” scenes where the train locks into a piece of track. That track piece has actuators underneath it where it can rock forward or back while the train car pivots from left to right. Universal actually owns the patent on that particular effect, so unless Disney can find a way around the patent without violating how that particular piece works.
Overall, this doesn’t mean that there can’t be various special effect pieces of track that can be added to the Guardians coaster at Epcot. As with most coasters that have opened at Disney Parks for the last 25+ years, the manufacturer is undoubtedly going to be Vekoma. Which is fairly well known for their launched coasters (like Rock N’ Roller Coaster, Tron or Big Grizzly Mountain). Will we see a launch here? I think it’s highly plausible.
So what do you think, will people compare the new Guardians coaster to Escape From Gringotts? Will it be more advanced or perhaps even more thrilling? Let me know what you think!
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