Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
(November 3, 1998 - present)
History and photos of the Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin shooting gallery ride in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The story for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin dates back to 1972 and Tomorrowland's first Omnimover attraction, If You Had Wings.
Opening on June 5, 1972, If You Had Wings was a slow-moving, Omnimover attraction that was sponsored by Eastern Air Lines. Guests would board the ride and experience a four-and-a-half minute journey past exotic travel destinations such as Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad, and even New Orleans, Louisiana. Naturally, those just happened to be some of Eastern Air Lines' top travel destinations. The ride also had a "speed room," a cone shaped room with a giant curved screen that featured clips of first-person activities from taking off in an airplane to riding a motorcycle to riding on a train. Fans would blow air on the riders to help simulate the perceived faster movement, an effect that would be replicated in other Walt Disney World attractions.
The ending for If You Had Wings had the riders descend and make a "landing," returning to the ground. Waiting for them at the ride's exit were some travel agents for Eastern Air Lines (a predecessor to today's method of dumping riders into a gift shop), ready to book your next vacation.
Eastern Air Lines dropped its sponsorship of If You Had Wings in 1987, and the ride closed in the spring of that year. The closing would be brief as the Eastern Air Lines logos were stripped from the ride.
If You Could Fly opened in its place on June 6, 1987.
The conversion from If You Had Wings to If You Could Fly involved removing the Eastern Air Lines logos and references, changing the ride's theme song, and slightly altering the beginning of the attraction. Instead of riding past a screen showing clips of Eastern Air Lines, the screen was changed to show a bunch of birds in flight. Otherwise, the rest of the ride was virtually identical to the original version.
On January 4, 1988, If You Could Fly was closed to be transformed into a new experience.
Sponsored by Delta Air Lines, Dreamflight opened on June 23, 1989. Still using the same Omnimovers and ride track, the rest of the attraction was completely re-themed to that of aviation --- past, present and future.
Dreamflight took guests on a tour through the history of aviation, from the early days of dreamers to the age of barn stormers. As aircraft advanced in technology, so do the destinations as Dreamflight showed international scenes such as Paris, France, and Tokyo, Japan. The ride would then advance to the jet age and guests would pass through a "speed room" showing a high-speed take-off. The next scene would show a video clip of flying to a distant planet and making a supersonic flight through a futuristic city. Dreamflight would return to the present and conclude by taking guests past a giant pop-up book flipping between two cities. Guests would then pass through the unloading station and then exit into Tomorrowland.
The ride's sponsorship with Delta Air Lines ended on December 31, 1995, and the ride was temporarily closed in the spring of 1996. Just like with If You Had Wings, it was time to remove some details from the ride.
Take Flight opened on June 5, 1996. The ride was basically the same as Dreamflight except for the removal of the Delta Air Lines references in the line queue, throughout the ride, and in the theme song. The theme song was still there but slightly modified for the unsponsored version of the ride.
Take Flight only lasted for about eighteen months in the Magic Kingdom. It closed for good on January 5, 1998 to make way for a completely different experience.
Fortunately for Disney, the next attraction to occupy this spot would quickly become a smash hit with the park guests, and it would still remain a popular ride to this day.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin officially opened on November 3, 1998. The ride still utilized the same Omnimover ride system and track layout as Dreamflight and If You Had Wings, but this time the experience would be radically different. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin combines the excitement and competitiveness of a shooting gallery with the fun and wacky sci-fi theming of the world of Buzz Lightyear, a popular character from Disney's Toy Story animated films.
The experience for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger spin begins with entering the Star Command Headquarters there in Tomorrowland. In the line queue an Audio-Animatronic version of Buzz Lightyear uses a View-Master to tell us about evil Emperor Zurg's plot to steal batteries (known as "crystallic fusion cells") and leave the space vehicles powerless. Our mission is to use the laser guns on our ride vehicles to fight back against Zurg's alien army and to target the "Z's" wherever we find them. Each time we hit one of the targets, the counters in our vehicles keep track of our overall score. There's a chart at the end of the ride to see how well we compare ourselves to the rest of the new recruits.
|Level 1||STAR CADET||0 - 1,000 points|
|Level 2||SPACE ACE||1,001 - 10,000 points|
|Level 3||PLANETARY PILOT||10,001 - 100,000 points|
|Level 4||SPACE SCOUT||100,001 - 300,000 points|
|Level 5||RANGER 1ST CLASS||300,001 - 600,000 points|
|Level 6||COSMIC COMMANDO||600,001 - 999,998 points|
|Level 7||GALACTIC HERO||999,999 points|
The ride itself takes guests through fantastic scenes and past many wacky creatures, from alien creatures to the Little Green Men to a couple of encounters with Emperor Zurg himself. In addition to aiming and shooting at targets, there's also a joystick that controls where our ride vehicle is facing. We have the control to make it turn and spin. Want to go through the whole ride while spinning non-stop? You can make it happen!
At the end of the ride (after the on-ride photo), Buzz Lightyear is able to capture Emperor Zurg. He's able to capture Zurg because of our help, of course. The riders pass through the unloading station, see their on-ride photo on the exit ramp, and then have the option of purchasing it as a souvenir. Off to the side of the store is Emperor Zurg standing in a small prison cell. After passing through the store, riders re-enter Tomorrowland.
The best way to score points in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is by knowing for a fact which laser dot is yours. Then hold down the trigger and fire away, hitting the targets as many times as you can. Of course, some targets are worth a LOT more points than others.
Want to know some tips and secrets for shooting at the best targets on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin?
BEST TARGET #1 - GIANT ROBOT'S HAND
|On the right side of the first room there's a giant robot. Shoot at the "Z" on its hand. Be cautioned that it's hard to aim the laser guns up and down, so you'll have to shoot at this target at a lower angle when entering and leaving the room.|
BEST TARGET #2 - THE VOLCANO
In the next room there's a large alien landscape with a volcano on the far wall. Shoot at the targets on the volcano and make it "erupt" (the eruption flashes behind it on the wall). It's a long-distance shot, but it'll definitely be worth it when you start racking up the points.
The good news is that the width of the laser beam slightly expands the further it travels. Even though this target is across the room, you should have an easy time hitting it. Just make sure you know which red dot on the wall is yours.
BEST TARGET #3 - EMPEROR ZURG
|After the volcano room you'll have an encounter with Emperor Zurg. Shoot at the "Z" on the bottom of his machine. This is a tricky angle and since it's difficult to point the gun down, you can only hit the bottom target when entering and leaving this scene.|
The general rule with secret targets is that the harder it is to hit a target, then the more points you'll receive when hitting it. If you successfully hit those three mentioned targets a few times, you'll easily have a huge score, possibly as high as the Ranger 1st Class or Cosmic Commando. As far as gaining that elusive ranking of Galactic Hero, that'll take a little more skill . . .
Since its opening in 1998, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin has continued to be a hit with the crowds. Although this is an Omnimover attraction that is constantly loading riders, wait times can hit forty-five minutes or longer on the busier days. The ride does use Disney's FASTPASS system, so that is an option for experiencing this attraction during busier times.
It's safe to say that the overwhelming success of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin helped inspire the creation of Toy Story Midway Mania over at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Midway Mania is another shooting gallery (and highly addictive) ride that uses the cast from the Toy Story movies.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is a simple but yet highly entertaining ride that makes you want to keep riding again and again so you can try to beat your best score. There's no height requirement, and the vast majority of park guests can enjoy this attraction. The scenes are fun, the characters are great, and this is simply a fun attraction. Make sure that you make Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin a part of your visit to the Magic Kingdom.
|FASTPASS||Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is a FASTPASS attraction.|
|TIP #1||You have unlimited ammo on this ride. Hold down the button and keep shooting at every target. Don't worry --- you do NOT lose points when missing the targets.|
|TIP #2||The general rule is that the harder it is to hit a target (the angle or the distance to it), then the more points you'll receive for hitting it. Some targets are worth a LOT more points than others.|
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