The Buzz Lightyear attractions (a.k.a. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, 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 1999 and 2000 Disney/Pixar films Toy Story 2 and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins located at five of the Magic Kingdom-style Disney Parks (all except for Hong Kong Disneyland). 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 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 Resort's DisneyQuest with the name "Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters," 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.
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.
The back story of the ride revolves around the attempts of Evil Emperor Zurg (voiced by Frank Welker in the Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin attraction and Andrew Stanton in the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters attraction) to steal the batteries (known as "crystallic fusion cells") used to power the space vehicles of the "Little Green Men." (voiced by Jeff Pidgeon and Debi Derryberry) 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 does voice for all Buzz Lightyear attractions). 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 Etch-a-Sketch (Disneyland) and/or Viewmaster (Disney World) provide 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" 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) during the ride, this allows for "bonus points" as the pistols and targets do not turn off. There are 4 different shaped targets which are worth different numbers 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-L7 displaying the ranking or level achieved for the below scores:
At one point in the attraction, each person is photographed during game play and has the option of sending a free electronic postcard via e-mail at the exit queue. The 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 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).
The installation of Space Ranger Spin also impacted the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, 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 at Walt Disney World, it uses infrastructure from previous attractions. Its show building originally housed the Circle-Vision 360° theater. In 1997, as part of a major makeover of Tomorrowland, the Circle-Vision theater was removed and the space became part of the queue for the now infamous Rocket Rods. The Rocket Rods, which were prone to breakdowns, ran from 1998 to 2000. This space was then unused until 2005, when Astro Blasters opened.
A key difference between this ride and its counterpart at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is that its laser guns can be removed from their mounts to allow for more accurate shooting (similar to Men in Black: Alien Attack). The laser guns at Space Ranger Spin at Magic Kingdom cannot be removed from their mounts and have limited movement.
At Hong Kong Disneyland, the ride is also called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and is a highly identical clone of the Tokyo version of the ride. On March 3, 2017, Disney announced that the ride will be closing and would be replaced with an Ant-Man themed attraction, making this to be the second Marvel themed ride at Hong Kong Disneyland. The ride closed on August 31, 2017.
At Disneyland Paris, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast replaced the Circle-Vision 360° production Le Visionarium, which closed in 2004. 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 might be able to see 9-Eye (the Circumvisual Photodroid from Le Visionarium) hiding there. However, it is an easy to miss tribute.
In the Paris version of the ride, the dialogue is the same but translated into French as well as English. In the queue, the Buzz Lightyear animatronic speaks English, as well as French for those who speak French, and don't understand English. Some areas of the ride provide both dialogues, but in the scene where Zurg's weapon is half-destroyed, it switches from English to French in a 6 dialogue loop as it does in the California version of the ride.
The most recent version of this attraction is called Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue. It is more heavily based on the opening scene of Toy Story 2, taking place on the planet where Zurg has his lair set up, and featuring the same style of robots as in the film.
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