Insider Secrets to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Evil Emperor Zurg is a menace who must be stopped! I mean, any emperor who actually brands himself as “Evil” is problematic, right? Thankfully, you are a vital part of The Resistance. You have a laser pistol and a license to kill thanks to your title of Space Ranger.
You are all that stands between Zurg and interstellar domination. Here are a few fun facts and game tips about one of the silliest and most immersive attractions at Disney, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
The Space Ranger Story
Buzz Lightyear is a member of Star Command, defenders of all that’s good and right in the galaxy. They oppose Evil Emperor Zurg, who is on a quest for intergalactic domination. You join Buzz Lightyear in stopping Zurg from pulling off his latest nefarious plot.
Zurg is doing the worst thing imaginable in the Toy Story universe. He’s stealing batteries from defenseless toys! Now THAT is evil. Your mission is to save these “crystallic fusion cells,” thereby preventing Zurg from powering up his doomsday weapon.
The catch is that you’re the Space Ranger equivalent of a rookie. No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to save enough batteries to stop Zurg. Instead, you’re heading toward an outer space laser battle with his spaceship, the Spiderbot. Luckily, Buzz Lightyear and the Little Green Men arrive in time to save the day.
Be honest. Did you have any idea about any of that? You just grab the laser pistol and start aiming, don’t you? You shouldn’t feel bad. That’s what everyone does!
One Concept, Many Versions
All six Disney theme parks around the world have a version of the Buzz Lightyear attraction. They don’t share the same name, though. Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland have Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, while Tokyo Disneyland’s variant is Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. At Shanghai Disneyland, you’ll find Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, and Disneyland Paris hosts Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.
The most famous version is Magic Kingdom’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the original version that debuted in 1998. All of the other attractions are from the 21st century, opening from 2004 to 2016. Shanghai Disneyland’s iteration is the newest one. It’s also the most unique attraction in that it has more moving pieces and intricate 3-D set designs.
The First Pixar Attraction
Disney has opened several Pixar attractions over the years and even a few themed lands. You can visit Cars Land to bask in the majesty of Radiator Springs. You can shrink down to the size of Buzz Lightyear at Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can even visit multiple Pixar neighborhoods at Pixar Pier. It all seems so typical today.
Back in 1998, however, a Disney ride based on a Pixar attraction seemed impossible. For starters, only one Pixar movie had even been released by this point. When Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin opened to the public, A Bug’s Life was still three weeks away from its opening weekend. Toy Story 2 wouldn’t come out for another year.
Park executives gambled that Buzz Lightyear was appealing enough to anchor a ride even though Disney had no official connection to Pixar. In fact, the fledgling studio was viewed as the competition. Despite this perceived feud, Disney negotiated a license for Toy Story characters to build the Buzz Lightyear attraction. Yes, at one point, there were as many Pixar rides as there were Pixar movies!
How to Get High Scores
Whichever park you visit, Buzz Lightyear is one of the few competitive attractions. It pits player vs. player in a battle for scoring supremacy. The winner will claim bragging rights for the rest of the day if not the rest of the vacation.
You want to crush your enemy and hear the lamentations of their women, right? You need a few tips. These are specifically for the Magic Kingdom version of the ride, but many of the premises are applicable at all Buzz Lightyear attractions. You’ll see seven scoring ranges at the end of the ride. You’re aiming for Galactic Hero, which requires a score of 900,000-999,000. More importantly, do NOT want a score of 199,000 or less. That’s the bottom category, Space Ranger 1st Class.
People who take a picture of their Galactic Hero score can show it to a cast member and receive a prize. People who fall into the Space Ranger 1st Class range have no recourse but to slink away in shame. I won’t lie. I’ve done this a lot. Buzz Lightyear rides require a lot of practice. Here are a few ways to master the game.
1) Control the Joystick
The person in charge of the joystick determines which way the vehicle spins. With some clever timing, you can turn your ride cart so that you can score points while your opponent can’t. It’s fair game and a surefire way to get both of you laughing hard.
2) Test Your Laser
Buzz Lightyear rides start with a practice range, a shooting gallery set against a blank wall. While many players sit idly, savvy shootings take this opportunity to study their laser aim. Some blasters shoot high or low, while others pull to the sides. Before the actual scoring begins, educate yourself on your laser’s tendencies. You’re sure to improve your total score by doing so.
3) Find the High-Scoring Targets
This tip may seem obvious, but a lot of people don’t understand that they’re wasting time shooting at the wrong things. The Z symbols throughout the ride vary in value. Logically, you’d expect harder targets to count more, and they do. Some of the highest scores are hidden in plain sight, though.
For example, the giant red robot in the first area flaps his arms up and down. Shoot in the open spaces around the arms. A 100,000-point target is here, assuming that you can hit it. Similarly, there’s a target on the volcano worth 25,000 points. You’ll know when your aim is true because it will trigger a volcanic eruption!
4) Look for Nested Targets
On Toy Story Mania!, you’ve seen the targets that you hit that open into new, higher scoring targets. You may not know that Buzz Lightyear has them, too. You’ll find a few places where a good shot will lead to the appearance of previously hidden Z symbols. Nested targets require a bit more work since you must aim several times correctly. They’ll increase your score dramatically in a matter of seconds, though.
5) Shoot Smart, Not Fast
The final tip is best explained by watching this video. Buzz Lightyear as a game requires solid impulse control. Yes, you have unlimited ammo and can fire the blaster as much as you want. You should resist this temptation, though. Instead, you want to be selective with your targets and firing. You have plenty of time on the ride to scope out the highest scoring opportunities, aim at them, and hit the bullseye. It’s a better strategy than firing willy-nilly.
In the video linked here, pay attention to how little shooting the player does. They still wind up with 999,999 points. Contrast this demonstration of patience against the way that you’ve approached the game. What’s your highest score? How many shots did you fire to get there? It was probably more than one a second, wasn’t it?
You can get so wrapped up in the shooting that you risk ignoring the most rewarding targets. It may not feel that way when you’re bubbling with adrenaline, but the scoring system rewards a systematic approach.