Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (a.k.a. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast or Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, depending on the park) are a series of Tomorrowland shooting dark rides based on the Disney/Pixar film Toy Story 2 at Disney Parks around the world. Although each ride may have a different name (as seen on the infobox to the right), all share the same plot and major characters. As each form of the attraction appeared, new technology has allowed the guest to better interact with the ride and even connect with personal computer users.
The attractions use a third-generation Omnimover system and are a combination of a shooting gallery and a dark ride. The first ride featured laser guns that were not movable, but later versions featured the guns that are held in a holster and movable with the exception of a cord to keep them in the vehicle after the ride has ended. In 2005, the Walt Disney Company premiered a home version of the ride in the form of an internet video game that allows users to connect with guests at the parks. The scores of each guest from the dark ride are tallied with the internet gamer and increase the points won. There was also an attraction at Walt Disney World's DisneyQuest with the name "Buzz Lightyear's Astroblaster", where players rode and controlled cars while shooting balls at each other. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin was named the 2004 Disney Magazine Reader's Choice Award winner for Best Magic Kingdom Park Attraction for Young Kids.
The back story of the ride revolves around the attempts of Evil Emperor Zurg (voiced by Frank Welker in Space Ranger Spin and Andrew Stanton in Astro Blasters [with Tesshō Genda and Laurent Gamelon in international languages]) to steal the batteries (known as "crystallic fusion cells") used to power the space vehicles of the "Little Green Men" (voiced by Jeff Pidgeon [with Toshiharu Sakurai and Christophe Lemoine in international languages]). Participants are "Star Command" raw recruits sent to defeat Zurg. The queue area is awash in the chartreuse, white, and bright blue hues of Buzz Lightyear himself (voiced by Pat Fraley, who did the voice for all the English language Buzz Lightyear attractions [with Minoru Inaba and Richard Darbois in international languages]). Since Buzz Lightyear is a toy, the attraction is cleverly scaled to give the illusion that one has just been reduced to the size of an action figure, featuring such detail as giant, exposed Philips screw heads and an explanation of the interactive phase of the ride that resembles a toy's instruction sheet, only on a gigantic scale. An Audio-Animatronic Buzz Lightyear figure and giant
(Disneyland) and/or View-Master (Disney World) provide the explanation of the "mission" to destroy Zurg's secret weapon with your blasters. While his body is audio-animatronic, Buzz's face is actually a screen with a projection of computer animation, allowing better lipsync and more expressive features, making him look like a more realistic representation of the character from the films.
"Astro Blasters", "Laser Blast", "Planet Rescue", and "Space Ranger Spin" are equal parts shooting gallery and dark ride. Visitors board an Omnimover space vehicle featuring two laser pistols and a joystick. The pistols are used to shoot laser beams at targets of varying point values. Targets that are hit while lit up will produce much higher scores. A digital readout on the dashboard shows the player's score. The joystick allows full 360-degree rotation of the vehicle to assist in aiming. During the ride, if the ride slows down or completely stops (this is a result of either a handicapped guest or a ride breakdown), this allows for "bonus points" as the pistols and targets do not turn off. There are 4 different shaped targets which are worth different amounts of points: round (100 points), square (1,000 points), diamond (5,000 points), and triangle (10,000 points).
At the conclusion of the ride, the digital score flashes L1, L2, ... L7, displaying the ranking or level achieved for the below scores:
Level 1 Star Cadet: 0 – 1,000
Level 2 Space Ace: 1,001 – 10,000
Level 3 Planetary Pilot: 10,001 – 100,000
Level 4 Space Scout: 100,001 – 300,000
Level 5 Ranger 1st Class: 300,001 – 600,000
Level 6 Cosmic Commando: 600,001 – 999,998
Level 7 Galactic Hero: 999,999
At one point in the attraction, each visitor is photographed during gameplay and, at "Astro Blasters", has the option of sending an electronic postcard via e-mail at the exit queue. "Astro Blasters" photos include the player's score. If the score is in the top 100 highest of the day, the player's ranking is also included in the photo. The Top 10 players' scores are shown on the scoreboard at the exit queue, along with 3 letters that the person chooses to identify themselves. The top person gets their face posted on the screen. The Disneyland version once featured at-home play tied directly to the attraction itself via the Internet; however, this is disabled.
The installation at the Magic Kingdom utilizes an existing ride system by Arrow Development. The remaining installations use an omnimover system by Sansei Yusoki.
The Magic Kingdom's version of the ride, known as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and the first version of the Buzz Lightyear attractions altogether is the third Omnimover ride to operate in Tomorrowland's south show building.
The layout and systems of the ride date all the way back to 1972. This space was originally home to If You Had Wings, an aviation-themed ride sponsored by Eastern Airlines. Eastern Airlines dropped sponsorship of the ride for financial reasons in early June 1987. All Eastern themes were moved, and the ride was renamed If You Could Fly. If You Could Fly closed down in January 1989.
Six months after If You Had Wings/If You Could Fly closed down, the ride reopened as a completely redressed ride called Delta Dreamflight, sponsored by Delta Air Lines. Delta sponsored the attraction until January 1996, when, due to financial reasons and sponsorship of the 1996 Summer Olympics, they withdrew their sponsorship. The ride was renamed simply Dreamflight until June 1996 when the ride became known as Take Flight. Take Flight closed in January 1998 to be transformed into Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which opened ten months later. Space Ranger Spin thus has a combination of the elements of its predecessors and all new scenes (the speed tunnel is the original speed tunnel from If You Had Wings and Delta Dreamflight). Three of the chickens from the barnstorming segment of Dreamflight are now residents of Planet Z, recolored as green space chickens that are among the targets in that area.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority dioramas
The installation of Space Ranger Spin also impacted the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which runs through the south show building. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority, or TTA as it is often called for short, had opened in 1975 as the WEDway PeopleMover. At that time, If You Had Wings was the attraction occupying the south show building. Three diorama windows were also positioned on the track: two on the right and one of the left. These allowed the Mexico, Jamaica, and Trinidad scenes to be visible to riders on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in such a way as to hide all projectors, lights, and other show support equipment.
The diorama windows were altered once more when If You Had Wings was transformed into Delta Dreamflight. This was done because the windows no longer correctly lined up with show scenes. The first window was replaced with backlit panels depicting the ride's barnstormer scene. Window two looked into the Parisian Excursion scene, from a viewpoint which heavily distorted the tableau's forced perspective. The third window would have had TTA riders looking directly into an extremely bright light and so was completely obscured with plywood and black fabric.
When the ride transitioned yet again into the current attraction of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in 1998, the first window was refitted with the diorama of the hair salon, and the second left open to look into the new attraction, though concern was expressed over the fact that this view allows TTA riders to look directly into banks of high-powered blacklights. At one point during Space Ranger Spin, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the TTA passing through the building.
Disneyland's version of the ride is called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Like the Magic Kingdom version, it also uses infrastructure from previous attractions. The space the ride takes up was first occupied by the Circle-Vision 360° theater. The space was transformed in 1997 when Tomorrowland received a major makeover, and the Circle-Vision theater became part of the queue line for the infamous Rocket Rods. The Rocket Rods were prone to breakdowns and ran from 1998 to 2000. After closing, the queue line stood empty for several years until Astro Blasters opened in 2005. Astro Blasters occupies the space formerly used by the Rocket Rods' queue. A key difference between Astro Blasters and Space Ranger Spin is that in Astro Blasters, the laser guns can be removed from their mounts to allow for more accurate shooting (similar to Men in Black: Alien Attack at Universal theme parks), while in Space Ranger Spin, they cannot be removed from their mounts and have limited movement.
On April 30, 2021, Disneyland Resort reopened after being temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, Disneyland's version of the attraction remained closed, until June 26, when it reopened.
Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland
The Tokyo version of the ride is called Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters and it is the original version of the second version of the ride and all of the ride's audio is in Japanese. At Hong Kong Disneyland, the ride was called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and a highly identical clone of the Tokyo version with a more elaborate queue, with its entrance Buzz Lightyear statue being taken from the defunct DisneyQuestChicago's Astro Blasters bumper car attraction. The Hong Kong version was also entirely in English, and only trilingual for safety rules. Those two versions also featured a floating Planet Z outside of the DreadNought. Their version's cruisers are called XP 38. On March 3, 2017, Disney announced that the attraction would be closing and replaced by Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! as the second Marvel themed ride at Hong Kong Disneyland. The ride closed on August 31, 2017. In 2023, the attraction is set to become part of Stark Expo. However, Tokyo Disneyland's version is still operating today.
At Disneyland Paris, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast replaced the Circle-Vision 360° production Le Visionarium, which closed in 2004 after plans to place the attraction in Walt Disney Studios Park's Animation Courtyard were rejected. This version of the ride is much like the Disneyland version, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, except for the presence of a tribute to Le Visionarium: When you are in the robot attack scene at the beginning, if you look beneath the left arm of the Box-O-Bot, you may be able to see 9-Eye (the Circumvisual Photodroid from Le Visionarium) hiding there. However, it is easy to miss this tribute.
The most recent version of this attraction is called Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue. Heavily based on the opening scene of Toy Story 2, the attraction takes place on the planet where Zurg has his lair set up with the same style of robots as featured in the film, as well as featuring Buzz Lightyear heavily via the use of screens.
The queue of the ride shows different pictures of Buzz Lightyear and the Little Green Men. It also shows the battery cells and pipes plugging into Star Command. Guests then pass the Buzz Lightyear animatronic (This version of the animatronic has his wings open and is not holding anything). After listening to what he has to say, guests then leave that room and board the XP 37. Attached to them are ion laser canons and a joystick to spin the cart.
Tokyo Disneyland/Disneyland/Hong Kong Disneyland/Disneyland Paris
This ride's queue (as well as the other Astro Blasters/ Laser Blast) includes a walkie talkie with Buzz Lightyear on it reading his wrist communication device. The speakers provide backstory to the ride and how Zurg is attacking Green Planet, home of the Little green men. It also includes a picture of Zurg as wanted criminal number one. It has pictures of The green squadron leaving to attack. It also has posters describing the blasters and the XP 40 (or 38/39/41) star cruiser. In the FastPass line, there is a picture of Buzz Lightyear shooting a purple, green and orange colored alien. It also shows Lightyear leading a team of Space rangers as well as making a cameo for Princess Mira Nova from the film and the TV show Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (BLoSC). The guests enter the briefing room to see Buzz Lightyear (This animatronic has no wings out and is holding an Astro Blaster. The Astro Blaster has a timer for when Buzz does his talking. As he says his line about finding Zurg's secret weapon, the astro blaster lights up and blasts it's laser at the Etch a Sketch wiping off the picture of Zurg. However, in Paris for a brief period in the late 2010s, the laser couldn't keep up with the timer and the laser shined a little early, which has since been fixed after the 2021 refurbishment). The animatronic gives a one-minute speech before a red alarm goes off signaling for the line to move along. The guest proceed down a long Corridor seeing the LGMs testing the Blasters. The guests then board the Star cruiser (each of the queues are different in each incarnation).
The Queue has the look of a Star Tours type attraction and is the longest indoor queue for all of the versions of the attraction. It looks like the International Space Station. The walls are covered with pictures of Buzz Lightyear himself. Video monitors are displayed on some of those walls. The monitors play videos of the LGMS, and Zurg with his new weapon. Buzz Lightyear will also appear on the screen fighting the robots. Most of the videos show the Star command space ship. Each ship has a red and green blaster on each side. After the queue, guests will walk into the room where the space cruisers are.
The ride begins when the cart enters a room with four blue colored astronauts holding guns aimed at a disco ball. The ride then enters a robot attack scene. An orange robot called the Box-O-Bot (originally labeled as a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot during the Mattel sponsorship), a blue and purple robot called the Gigantobot, a green robot called the Battery Bot, and a Dog Bot are all present in this scene. The ride then slopes down a short hill into Planet Z. Here guests encounter many aliens including space chickens, space spiders, and others. There is also a volcano that is shooting green goo. The guests then enter Zurg's fortress where they see a battery delivery. Zurg is in his spaceship, which he calls his Spiderbot. In the next room the aliens show the guests that Zurg has escaped. The next room is the projection tunnel and in it Zurg is shooting at the guests. The final room shows Buzz Lightyear fighting with Zurg in the now destroyed Spiderbot. The Little green men help Buzz tear it apart. Then the unload area shows Buzz Lightyear thanking the guests while holding Zurg in the claw. Guests will then exit the ride into Buzz's Star Command where they can purchase a photo of themselves on the ride.
Mattel, having just transferred its sponsorship from the It's a Small World attraction thus in turn making that attraction sponsorless in nearby Fantasyland originally sponsored the Walt Disney World attraction from its opening to 1999 when all references to Mattel were removed from the attraction. The Disney World version has been without sponsorship ever since.
Tokyo Disneyland/Disneyland/Hong Kong Disneyland/Disneyland Paris
The ride begins in the robot attack scene with The Box-O-Bot, the Gigantobot, (Who have changed positions and coloring as in WDW's version. The Box-O-Bot was neon orange and was on the left side of the track and the Gigantobot was dark blue and purple and was on the right side of the track. Now-Box O-Bot is just orange and is on the right and the Gigantobot has a red body and red ears), the Dogbot (who now has a brown color) and the Batterybot (who is now red and has a target on his nose [This variation is in Paris and in California while a similar version with a target on his forehead is in Tokyo and Hong Kong]) are all present during this scene. There is also a mini Space Ranger in what looks like an X Wing. The Guests enter Zurg's Dreadnought down a hallway shooting batteries until you reach his laboratory. Zurg is shooting his "Zurgatronic Ion Blaster" (he dubbed it this in BLoSC). He is standing behind his now damaged Secret Weapon. Guests are about to transition into the next room which is completely dark while robots are being electrocuted trying to land the Dreadnought. The Guests enter Planet Z (In the French Version of the ride Buzz Lightyear says "Attention Space Rangers, you've landed on Planet Z! Be ready for anything"). Guests can shoot aliens including a call back to the pterodactyl that belongs to Sid Phillips in the First Toy Story Film. Before leaving Planet Z, Zurg in his secret weapon is gloating towards the guest and laighing in triumph because it appears he is about to shoot Green Planet. Guests then enter a light tunnel with Zs around it. The next room is similar to Space Ranger Spin. Buzz Lightyear is using his Astro Blaster to take down Zurg's Secret Weapon. The Green Squadron are helping Buzz take down the ship. The final room has the LGMs signing the receipt to return Zurg to Al's Toy Barn. Zurg promises revenge as the Green Squadron thank the guests. Buzz Lightyear then thanks the guests. He tells them to put the Blasters where they belong and to check the score board. Guests exit the ride to the gift shop (ie Little Green Men's Store command or Star Command Suppliers).
The Ride begins on a planet where the Little Green Men are helping guests take down the Zurg Bots. As well as Buzz being there using his laser. He is later seen fighting two of the robotic giants. Afterwards, the vehicles move into a mine where Zurg has been digging to get his weapon to fire at the planet. He sets up more robots as Buzz struggles to stop the Evil Emperor's mining. After a while, Zurg is defeated and swears he will get revenge. On your way out (like all the attractions) you see a scoreboard with the different scores from Level one to Seven.
Characters from the TV series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command make cameos during the ride. In Florida, XR and Commander Nebula are in the hallway after the ride ends and a character similar to Mira Nova is on the wall in the FastPass line at the California version and on a different wall towards the exit at the Paris version.
The Star Cruiser Ride Vehicles appear in Disney Infinity as a Power Disc. They also appear in Kingdom Hearts III, in which they are utilized as part of Attraction Flow, a game mechanic that summons Disney theme park rides as attacks.
The Magic Kingdom attraction was the first appearance of Zurg, as the ride opened one year before the movie was released.