While all attractions in Walt Disney World® are first and foremost about having fun, there is one located in the Magic Kingdom® Park that creates competition which keeps guests coming back time and time again. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin® is one of the most popular attractions in Tomorrowland® and puts guests right in the middle of a galactic battle between good and evil. Let’s take a closer look at the history of the attraction and just what makes it so much fun today.
The attraction space was originally occupied by If You Had Wings which was open from June 5, 1972 until June 1, 1979 and was sponsored by Eastern Airlines. When the sponsorship ended, the attraction was renamed If You Could Fly and operated until January 3, 1989. Delta then took over sponsorship, and a new attraction was constructed titled Delta Dreamflight and opened on June 26, 1989. Like its previous history, the Delta sponsorship ended, but the attraction simply changed its name to Take Flight and continued operating from June 5, 1996 until January 8, 1998. Finally on November 3, 1998, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin® debuted to rave reviews from fans.
The attraction was so popular that it was recreated across the world in other Disney Parks. In Tokyo Disneyland® the attraction opened April 15, 2004, in Disneyland® on March 17, 2005, in Hong Kong Disneyland® on September 12, 2005, and finally in Disneyland® Paris on April 18, 2006. Despite the attraction being very similar in all of these parks, it actually has several different titles. Disney World is the only park to use Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin®, Disneyland Paris uses the title Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. Disneyland®, Tokyo Disneyland®, and Hong Kong Disneyland® all use the title Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. No matter what the title, this attraction has been encouraging guests to channel their inner galactic hero for years.
When entering into Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin®, you are greeted with the headquarters of Star Command. All along the walls are pictures of the galaxy’s quadrants and planets including one called Pollust Prime which looks a lot like Earth. If you look closely at the planet, you may notice a large piece of land shaped like a certain Mouse’s profile. It appears several times throughout the queue. As you progress further through the queue, you will notice that there are flashing red lights and alarms and that something is happening. Up ahead there is an audio-animatronic Buzz Lightyear informing everyone that they are the latest recruits of Star Command and needed to help defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg. Zurg has infiltrated Gamma Quadrant Planet Z to steal batteries, and it is up to guests to help stop him. As you listen to Buzz explain your mission, be sure to check out the View-Master being used to display images of your mission as well as an Etch-a-Sketch depicting the Xp-37 Star Cruiser, your ride vehicle.
Once seated inside your Star Cruiser, you are on your way and quickly find yourselves in battle in a room filled with robots. All around you are targets with the letter Z, and for each laser hit, you are rewarded a certain amount of points. Here’s a hint- to rack up some big points in that first room, check out the moving arms of the orange robot. The second room features a volcano looming in the background and various aliens throughout the landscape. In this room, look for three chickens who appear directly in front of the Star Cruiser- they were also featured in Delta Dreamflight and remain as an homage to the attraction’s history. Be sure to also look towards the far end of the room for large windows looking down into the attraction. That is actually the track for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover which circles Tomorrowland® and gives guests a bird’s eye view of both the land and some of its attractions. Be sure to take a spin on it to look down and spot some new targets for your next ride on Buzz Lightyear.
The third room features your first glimpse of Zurg himself surrounded by batteries. Aim for those batteries lining the edge of the vehicle’s track for some fun reactions! You then progress into a tunnel which simulates flying through space. You might want to take a breather from shooting while moving through the tunnel as there are no targets, but don’t! If you keep it up and aim at the moving spaceship you can keep scoring throughout this scene! Finally, you come face to face with Zurg in the final showdown. Try not to look too scared, as you are also having your picture taken at the same time!
After congratulations from Buzz himself, be sure to compare your score to the point system to see just what Star Command Rank you are. Here are the rankings:
Space Ace: 1,001-10,000
Planetary Pilot: 10,001-100,000
Space Scout- 100,001-300,000
Ranger 1st Class: 300,001-600,000
Cosmic Commando: 600,001-999,998
Galactic Hero: 999,999
What is the highest you have ever ranked?
Once you disembark and head into the gift shop, be sure to check out a few things. First, look for your pictures capturing your final battle with Zurg! Directly across from the picture screens an alien can be found pointing to a classic yellow Hidden Mickey. Finally, nearby there is certain mischievous little blue alien who can be found flying his spaceship across the sky. See if you can find these great little details!
From signing up as a recruit for Star Command to coming face to face with the Evil Emperor Zurg, every moment of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin® is a thrill and definitely brings out the fun and competitive side in guests. If you have never gotten to experience this attraction before, sign up for Star Command on your next visit to the Magic Kingdom® Park – you won’t be sorry!
(Photos are from the author’s personal collection.)
What is your favorite part of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin®? Ever gotten the highest score to be a Galactic Hero? Have you ever gotten to experience the attraction in a different Disney Park? Let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.