Today I head over to Tomorrowland to review one of my favorites at the Magic Kingdom (despite its current state). The space it occupies has been operational since opening day in 1971. However, since opening day, it served as advertisement for various airlines, most of which had failed or needed to not spend sponsorship money on a shitty attraction. The time was right for Disney to throw the concept out without a parachute, and with the sequel to one of its biggest money makers coming up, they elected to inject a bit of synergy into the parks. It’s been 21 years since the replacement, the sheen has worn off on this attraction, making it the perfect time for us to cover Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin!
Toy Story debuted in 1995 to both audience and critical acclaim, setting up a franchise of films, making Pixar into a renowned animation studio on par with Disney Animation, and making John Lassiter into a “made man” until last year. Harassment allegations aside, a sequel to Toy Story was set to debut in December of 1998, and for synergistic purposes, Disney took a ride space that had been used exclusively as a showcase of airlines, gave it a fresh coat of paint, a few new animatronics, attached some laser guns to the omnimover ride vehicles, and slapped some three-eyed aliens on it! And thus the bastardization of my favorite land at Magic Kingdom has begun!
Walking into Buzz is both a relief and a disappointment these days. It’s relieving to walk into a building with a massive amount of air conditioning, but once you look around at the queue, you’re made kind of sad by the state of affairs. Fast pass has ruined the wait time of this (and all) omnimover attractions at Disney World. There’s always a significant wait time for this attraction, and its all because of the arbitrary rules of letting 100 Fast Pass guests in for every 10 without. So, while you burn through one of your vacations most valuable assets, hundreds of others are standing awkwardly in line waiting for the Fast Pass line to thin a bit.
One of the crowning animatronics when it debuted, guests pass by a 6 foot tall Buzz, who explains the basic premise of the attraction. The evil Emperor Zurg has taken all of the power cells (D batteries), leaving the Galaxy without a power source. Our mission as riders is ostensibly to combat the minions of Zurg while the elite regiment of three-eyed aliens gets the power cells back. Ride vehicles are outfitted with the best plastic laser gun that could be fixed to a vehicle in the mid 1990’s, and guests have a joystick to spin the vehicle around.
Once guests hop on board the ride vehicles, they’re taken on a journey at the break neck speed of a fat guy exhausted from walking around Epcot. Have you ever seen that cult classic Office Space? The opening credits roll over a scene of traffic where a guy using a walker is out pacing a car. That’s exactly how fast you move on the attraction. That said, Disney did add the popular element of the Tea Cups in that your vehicle spins. Throw in some lighting effects, and you do feel like you’re moving at the pace of a guy with a “dad bod”.
The first room guests enter is a reminder of your mission: fight off the minions and robots of Zurg while the aliens get the D batteries back. You’re then dropped into the action, fighting off a giant robot with a barrage of laser blasts. Pro-tip: aim for the back of the giant robots left arm and you’ll rack up the points. You can only hit this as you move into the second room, which is a swamp-like scene featuring several other creatures that move about. If you were the chick from The Exorcist, you could theoretically see the TTA trains that pass through above you, but if you were the chick from The Exorcist, I might suggest seeking out an old priest and a young priest rather than vacationing. There is a Catholic Church minutes from the Magic Kingdom. Google it…you’ll get there.
Guests continue to pass through various rooms of similar size and decor, shooting targets and kicking ass until they’re confronted by Zurg himself. The evil emperor is thwarted, however, by your infantry tactics and the subversive paratrooper skills of the aliens, eventually running out of power while you make the jump to hyperspace and escape. Smile or look super intense while taking your pot shots at Zurg, as this is where your picture is taken. Look at this gem from one of our recent trips:
After you complete your journey through hyperspace, you pass by a score chart, letting you know how you stack up and what “rank”. If you hit a single target, you’ll get ranked level 1, which is a mere “Space Cadet”. If your’re like me and know what you’re doing, you can rank as high as level 7, which of course is “Galactic Hero”.
Overall, I do enjoy Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin more than most of the Magic Kingdom offerings. I like that it gives me a chance to compete against friends and family. I also like that it’s interactive and gives me something to do instead of sitting back and allowing the action to take place around me. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Toy Story Midway Mania and Mission:Space, but this has been a feature on the Mission:Space predecessor Horizons, and is also notable at Test Track with the “design your car” section of the queue. It would appear that this is where attraction designs are going, as Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will be offering such in their Aluminum Falcon ride (not a typo, I’m just being insulting), and there’s already a VR Star Wars experience. Not all future attractions will have the Goosebumps “Choose Your Own Adventure” plot line, nor should they to be, but I’m glad I get to keep kicking my wife’s ass when on vacation!
-The Disney Cynic
“I’m all beers!”