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Five Things to Know About Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

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Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is a slow-moving, spinning (hence the name) interactive dark ride where you point and shoot “laser cannons” at targets to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg. Oh, and you’ll earn points for bragging rights too. So, if you want to learn more about this epic space battle, read on. Otherwise, if you prefer to blast your way to the nuts and bolts, here’s your shortcut.

1. The queue sets the stage for your adventure.

The queue for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is pretty old-school. No interactive games. No super-clever Easter Eggs everywhere you look. (OK, there are a few.) And the indoor portion is a bit on the short side; once it’s longer than about 25 minutes or so it spills over into an outdoor queue area.

Inside, the switchbacks meander through an area themed to look like Buzz Lightyear’s Star Command. It’s pretty cartoony and not terribly engaging, but it does set the stage for the ride’s story. The highlight is a life-size audio-animatronic Buzz Lightyear at the end who tells you about your mission.

2. It’s a ride!

The plot of the ride is simple: Buzz’s arch-enemy Zurg is stealing batteries from toys in order to power his new weapon of mass destruction. Throughout the ride, he’s helped by his army of robots.

Buzz’s army (that’s you) try to defeat the battery thieves by shooting them down. There’s no shortage of fluorescent effects and blacklight, and if you choose to sit back and watch you’d have a fine time appreciating this epic space battle. But should you choose to answer the call, you could be forgiven for not even realizing what the premise of the ride was, and thinking instead that …

3. It’s a game!

Your mission is to help Buzz stop Zurg. Your Omnimover vehicle is an XP-37 star cruiser which you can spin while shooting infrared “laser cannons” at Zurg and other targets. Each car is equipped with two laser cannons and two scorekeeping displays, so you’re in competition with your riding buddy.

A joystick enables you to spin the star cruiser so you can line up with the different glowing “Z” targets. When you pull the trigger, you can see a tiny, pinpoint of a red laser beam hitting or missing the target. As you travel through different scenarios, new targets appear; you adjust your aim, the car keeps moving, you spin and shoot again and again, accumulating points all the while.

For many folks, the first time you ride, you’ll spend some time getting better at using the controls to spin and firing the cannon. You can shoot individual shots or hold the trigger for continuous firing. You also figure out which targets will garner you the most points. The second time you ride, you’ll be surprised how much higher your score is.

The ride lasts about 5 minutes but seems much shorter because of the fast-paced action. If you’re hopeless at games of skill, check out our tips at Beating Buzz: A Guide for People with No Skill.

4. Buzz wasn’t the first to occupy this space (get it?).

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin officially opened November 3, 1998 and was the first of this type of interactive Omnimover ride. However, this space originally housed an attraction about aviation called If You Had Wings, which was sponsored by Eastern Airlines. When Eastern discontinued sponsorship in 1987, the ride was renamed If You Could Fly; this version closed in 1989. The ride then reopened as Delta Dreamflight, sponsored by Delta Airlines, and ran until Delta dropped sponsorship in 1996. No sponsorship == need a new name, so the moniker was changed to Take Flight. Take Flight was the last of the flying/aviation-themed versions, and it closed in January 1998 to be reworked into Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

There are still a few elements of the previous attractions that have been incorporated into the ride. Fun fact: three chickens from Dreamflight have been turned into green space chickens which you see at one point in the queue. The ride is so popular, you’ll find other iterations of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Park (Paris), and Shanghai Disneyland.

5. The Nuts and Bolts.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is located in Tomorrowland between Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom. Since it’s an indoor attraction, bad weather doesn’t affect its operation, but if you’re waiting in the extended outdoor portion of the queue, you may be exposed to the elements.

Each space cruiser can hold 2 or 3 people depending on the adult/kid ratio and size of the passengers. You sit on a lightly padded bench with a hard back and a single pull-down lap bar for all riders in a vehicle. There is a small step up from a moving walkway to board the ride vehicle.

Non-ambulatory riders must transfer to a Standard Wheelchair. There are no health or safety warnings for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and no height requirement or Rider Switch. Handheld Captioning and Audio Description are available.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is open for Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park hours. It can be a surprisingly good target at the beginning of the day, as the simple premise makes for a somewhat addictive ride and lines can get long during peak hours. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin also offers Lightning Lane via Genie+, and it can be a solid choice for a reservation if the return time is not too far away.

The Bottom Line.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is a family-friendly, fun-filled ride. You won’t go to infinity and beyond, but you’ll have a great time. All the thrills come from the element of competition, not sudden dips, drops, or turns. Most of our readers love it and you can count me among them! We ride it a couple times each visit, mostly because my wife always gets a higher score than I do. But someday…

Have you saved the galaxy on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Bob Jacobs

Bob Jacobs lives in Wisconsin where he retired as Editorial Director for a well-known catalog company. He and his wife Cristie have four children, seven grandchildren and a cocker spaniel named Penny the Dog. They’ve visited Walt Disney World regularly since 1992.

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