Confession time: Although I work as an editor for a major video game strategy guides publisher, I am terrible at video games. The last video game I remember beating was the 1991 release of Duke Nukem. As a result, things like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom don’t hold much attraction (pun intended) for me.
But like anyone with a competitive spirit, when I go on an attraction that has some sort of competitive slant to it, I want to do my best. After a little bit of Google-fu, I found many articles about Buzz Lightyear ride tips claiming to have the secrets to max out the ride score. But how would they work in reality? I compiled a team of non-experts, snagged a bunch of FastPass+ selections, and headed on in.
Meet your test team: Julia (hey, that’s me!). Age: “remembers the 1980s distinctly”. Video game experience: Mostly theoretical, but see also the bit about “remembers the 1980s”. No one can beat me at Pong, mainly because I can’t find anyone who still plays it.
Erwin (loyal husband who wonders what he got himself into). Age: “older than Julia, but much more hip and groovy” (people still say hip and groovy today, right?). Video game experience: Competitively casual. Currently playing: A marathon run of the Kingdom Hearts series. On a stressful work day, Katamari Damacy comes out of the vault to help that competitive nature.
Lily (bringing the cute). Age: “almost five” (and counting the days until her birthday). Video game experience: Not really into video games, but loves her iPad apps. Did manage to beat her dad at Wii bowling once. Could probably beat her mom at Wii bowling every time.
Now that you’ve met the team, here’s the game plan:
We did two rides each. In one car, Lily and I would work together to see how high we could get her score. In the other car, Erwin would use the techniques that I scoured from the Internet to competitively get the highest score he could.
Specifically, there were five techniques that were mentioned time and time again:
- Hold down on the fire button instead of clicking it again and again.
- Hit the farther (left) arm of the Robot in room 1 for 100,000 points.
- Hit the top spot of the Volcano in room 2 for 25,000-50,000 points (sites varied on the amount of points they assigned to it).
- Hit the bottom of Zurg’s spaceship in room 3 for 100,000 points.
- Hit the mysterious “black box” in the speed tunnel for 100,000 points.
Many Internet hint sites said that by following those simple instructions, “anyone” could max out their score at 999,999.
Ride 1, Lily and Julia: My instructions to Lily were to hold down on the fire button and I would “assist” with the aiming and spinning of the vehicle. Immediately, this plan ran into a snag. If she could reach the button to hold down on it (which required a decent amount of finger strength for a four-year-old), then I couldn’t aim for any low targets. That meant that the only high-point target she could reach would be able to hit would be the Robot arm when it was up or the Volcano. Unfortunately, the ride effect of the Robot was not working on any of our rides, and the high-score point spot was stuck in a low and inaccessible position. Because we were “working together” to aim and shoot, we had little luck hitting either it or the Volcano. We spent most of the ride attempting to hit the high-point targets, and as a result, we ended up not hitting much of anything until the last room.
Final score: A disappointing 9,300.
Ride 1, Erwin: As mentioned, because the Robot arm wasn’t moving, it was almost impossible to get the gun at an angle where the high-value target could be hit. Because he spent so much time trying to get that, he essentially left the first room with a negligible score. He had better luck with the Volcano and the Zurg spaceship, but was not able to find the mysterious Black Box on any of his rides.
Final score: An average (for him) 260,000
Ride 2, Lily and Julia: This time, I would hold the fire button and then assist her aiming in the general area of targets, but she would select what she was aiming at. This made her feel that she was doing more on the ride. We skipped the impossible-to-hit Robot and didn’t manage to hit the Volcano. What we did go for were the targets that were incredibly close, and because we were actually hitting targets, we were doing better on score. Halfway through, the ride stopped in Room 3 right in front of the high-point target at the bottom of Zurg’s spaceship. I helped her aim right for it, and we let the points roll in. Before the ride stop ended, we had hit that elusive 999,999.
Final score: Maxed out at 999,999, but without the emergency stop, we would have been around 300,000
Ride 2, Erwin: This time, while he attempted to hit the high-point targets, if he found that they just weren’t working for him after a second or two, he went for other targets to increase his score. He skipped the broken Robot, but got several hits on the Volcano. He wasn’t in a position to hit the Zurg spaceship the way we were, but poked around the room to hit other targets during the ride stop.
Final score: An impressive 783,800.
I asked Lily which she enjoyed more, and while she enjoyed maxing out the score, she had more fun just doing it “on her own”.
For Erwin, I asked if he felt knowing where the high-point targets were helped with the game. On the other hand, just focusing on the high-point targets meant that he was scoring one big score and nothing else for an entire room. He found he did better trying for a couple seconds on a big target, and if it wasn’t working, going for “targets of opportunity”.
I needed to go back one more time for some photos for this article, and as I went through, I tried to see what I could score on my own. I would take the necessary picture in the room, and then go for any target I felt I could hit in the first room, snapped the next picture and focused on up-close targets in the second room, and then snapped the final picture and focused on the target at the bottom of Zurg’s spaceship.
The end result? While I didn’t max out the scoreboard, it was far better than I had done in previous rides.
Final score: 565,700.
So what’s the secret to getting the best score possible on Buzz if you aren’t a professional gamer?
* Holding down the button all the time does work better than clicking it again and again. It is difficult for young children, however, and letting them press the button again and again is its own fun.
* If you are riding with a young child, try to put them in positions for easy up-close scoring opportunities, and assist them with aiming, especially if your ride vehicle stops and you can get them focused in on a high-point target.
* If the Robot in room 1 is not moving, skip trying to hit it and go for anything that is accessible.
* If you find you are able to hit the Volcano in room 2, catch it coming into the room and then rotate backwards to hit it on the way out. If you can’t hit it almost immediately, focus on other targets, including the closer ones that are easy to hit multiple times. After all, hitting a 10,000 point target six times is more valuable than hitting a 50,000 point target once!
* Almost anyone can have luck hitting the Zurg spaceship target in room 3, so if you are riding with a child, “help” them get that target to improve their score and let them do it on their own for the rest of the ride.
* Hitting the black target box in the speed tunnel is very much hit-or-miss. If you manage to hit it, keep your aim steady and rack up the points. If not, just enjoy the ride. The black target box is located on either side of the exit, at the point where the spaceship animation stops and then moves to the other side. Try spotting it on a first ride through, and then you know where you are looking at.
One other tip that I think should be on everyone’s list: Have fun. Yes, getting a high score is a wonderful rush and provides bragging rights, but the real fun of the game is spending time with your family.
Got any other tips or tricks to try? Maxed out the score? Share your experiences in the comments!