June 7, 2010

A Space Ranger Spin


The first version of the Buzz Lightyear attractions was Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, which debuted in Magic Kingdom on November 3, 1998. This was the original ride of this name, and each subsequent version after had a ‘new’ technology and made it a better ride experience.

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 of 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 of 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 back story of the ride revolves around the attempts of Evil Emperor Zurg to steal the "crystallic fusion cells" (i.e., batteries) used to power the space vehicles of the Little Green Men. 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. 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 Viewmaster provide explanation of the "mission", which is 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.


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.

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. Round, square, triangle, and diamond shaped. The triangle and diamond shaped targets are worth the most points.


The installation of Space Ranger Spin also impacted the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which runs through the south show building. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority had opened in 1975. 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.

Onto the pins (and button)!! First we have a Walt Disney Imagineering Button that shows the story of the ride with the Little Green Men in the vehicle shooting their lasers. The button reads “Buzz Lighyear’s Space Ranger Spin Arriving October 1998 Walt Disney Imagineering.”


This first pin was released in 1999 for the Millenium Celebration for the press, and it was saying that the new attraction, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin was apart of the celebration.


The next two pins feature the same logo for the attraction, though one features Buzz, and the other does not.

pin2734  pin20348

A popular part of the ride is the vehicles, and these next two pins feature key characters in the vehicles that guests board to help defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg.

pin18287  pin24363

This final pin features Zurg in his machine, in the attraction, this is used to take guests pictures. (Sorry for poor picture)pin27469

Pictures and Information from Pin Pics and Wikipedia

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