Welcome back to the WDW Ride Guide podcast, your guide to all the wonderful rides in Walt Disney World. I’m your host Ben Crain and I’m so glad to be joining you again today. Together we are going to have some fun learning about and imagining our way through another WDW ride. We will cover everything that makes this ride unique and discover whether you want to add it to your Disney trip.
Perhaps you have heard of a little ride called Toy Story Midway Mania! Well, we aren’t going to cover that ride today. However, we are covering a ride that once shared a similar level of popularity in it’s early days. In fact, this is another great example of a ride that was so popular in its original park that versions of the ride have been built in all of the other Disney parks since. It is time to shrink to the size of toys and enter the galactic fight between Buzz Lightyear and the evil Emperor Zurg. Let’s get started with our…
Know Before You Go Essential Facts
- The ride is located in the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland
- There is no height requirement
- Fastpass + is offered
- The fright factor is 0 out of 5
- Guests must transfer to a wheelchair
- Audio Description and Hand Held Captioning are available
- Children under age 7 must be accompanied by a person age 14 years of older
- The ride is just over 4 minutes long
- The ride opened on November 3, 1998
Calling all junior Space Rangers! The world’s greatest super hero, Buzz Lightyear, needs new recruits to help defeat the evil Emperor Zurg. The universe is in great peril as Zurg travels throughout the Gamma Quadrant stealing batteries from toys to power his ship. It is up to a brave new class of cadets to track down Zurg and defeat him. Sign up today!
Are you ready to go to infinity and beyond? If so, you need to head over to the Tomorrowland sector in the Magic Kingdom galaxy. Once there, look for Star Command- Home of the Universe Protection Unit. The exterior of Star Command will have a sign reading Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin! When you arrive to take on Zurg you may find you are not alone. The Space Ranger program is very popular and lines may run 20 minutes to more than 1 hour during peak enrollment. Contact Star Command prior to your trip for special assignment Fastpass+ reservations.
Once inside, you will begin briefing on your upcoming secret mission. A winding corridor will display important mission details. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the diagram of your XP-37 Space Cruiser. The XP-37 is a specially designed junior cadet training vehicle. You will notice each cruiser is equipped with a spin toggle for navigation, a crystalloid fusion power unit, and twin Ion cannons. The cruisers will hold up to 3 cadets, but only 2 will be able to fire the cannons. If your squad of space rangers each want a chance to shoot their ion cannon, be sure to notify the line commander that you want to travel as a party of 2. Moving on, you will see a map of the known sectors. Sector 9 has detected an unknown object, which is why you will be headed there. Shortly before boarding your XP-37, you will meet up with Buzz Lightyear himself. He will give you the final details of your mission. Pay close attention so you know how to defeat Zurg!
The loading station features an omnimover platform, so be prepared to enter your cruisers quickly. Any space rangers utilizing electronic controlled vehicles will need to transfer to a wheelchair for boarding their XP-37. Once aboard, you should familiarize yourself with the controls. The spin toggle will be located in the center of the cruiser. You will need to select your most skilled pilot for this duty, as they will be required to navigate with one hand and shoot their ion canon with the other. You will have a few seconds to learn the controls before your mission begins. When you arrive at your first planet you will need to locate the round targets with the Zurg insignia. These are easily identified with the lightning bolt Z in the middle.
As soon as you see your targets, begin firing your ion canons! The more targets you hit, the more damage you will cause to Zurg’s ship, and the higher rank you will earn at the end of your mission. If you really want to shoot up the ranks, aim for targets located higher up and further away. Your cruiser will display your score and that of your co-pilot. You can have a friendly competition, just remember Zurg is the real enemy! The success of your mission will depend upon your ability to work together as you spin your cruiser into the optimal firing position. Your XP-37 will be set to move through space slowly, allowing you maximum firing time.
During the course of your mission, you will travel to several different realms of space. Be prepared to come face to face with the evil Emperor Zurg. Once you find him, you need to hit him with everything you’ve got. You can hold down on your ion canon which will ensure a steady stream of single ion pulses. Stay locked on your target and watch your score skyrocket! If your mission is successful, you should see Zurg’s ship being pulled apart by our three-eyed green alien friends. The little green men hailing from Pizza Planet will recover the batteries from Zurg’s ship once you have defeated him. Do your best and you will receive a big salute from Buzz Lightyear as you return to Star Command.
When your mission is complete you will unload in the Maintenance Bay. Be sure to stop by the command center to see your mission photo. This will be a mission long remembered and your picture could help bring new recruits to Star Command. If your Magic Band has been pre-equipped with Memory Maker, this photo will download to your data base automatically.
Finally, recruits, be on the lookout for Buzz Lightyear as you exit Star Command. If your mission takes place between 15:00 hours and 19:00 hours, there is a good chance you will see the decorated hero in the exit courtyard. Fall in line with the other junior rangers and you can meet Buzz as well as take pictures. This is an often overlooked opportunity that you won’t want to miss!
Thank you for your attention Space Rangers. Remember, together we can defeat Zurg and deliver batteries to toys all across the universe!
Well, there you have it. This Disney dark ride meets electronic shooting gallery is one the whole family can enlist for together. It is hard for me to believe that Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin has been operating in the Magic Kingdom since 1998. It seems like not that long ago that I was preparing for a Disney vacation and looking forward to the new Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland. It had been a few years since I had been to Walt Disney World, but my brother-in-law had just returned from a trip a few months prior. He was super excited about this really cool new ride he had just experienced. It was the first thing he told us about when he learned we were planning our own Disney trip. At the time, he was a very adventurous 18 year old kid. So, I expected his excitement to be directed towards a new roller coaster or thrill ride in the parks. You can imagine my skepticism when he told me about a ride with no height requirement, no loops, no drops, no thrills. Instead he described Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I have to admit, it sounded like a little kid’s ride. I wasn’t sold.
Well, I did indeed ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin on that next trip and I was impressed. I may not have been as blown away as my brother-in-law, but I had to admit, the ride was fun. To me it was a little like combining the slow moving omnimover system of Spaceship Earth with laser tag. The dark black background of space sets the perfect backdrop for the neon colored aliens and ships. Black lights bring the 3-headed monsters, volcanoes, targets, and batteries to life in neon green, orange, and purple. Add to this the challenge of spinning your vehicle into position while firing your laser cannon and it feels like you have stepped inside a real life video game. I think that is what my brother-in-law responded to it so strongly. He was a pretty big gamer back then and this was the ultimate gaming experience at the time. He wasn’t the only one who felt this way. When the ride first opened up it was extremely popular.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin was the Toy Story Midway Mania! of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Just like the popular Pixar themed ride of today, back then a Fastpass+ was a necessity. Also like Toy Story Midway Mania!, kids could not get enough of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. This was a ride that families could do over and over. Young kids loved seeing the world of Buzz Lightyear come to life, while their parents loved competing each time to beat their last score. Fast forward to today and the ride has not really changed as we approach its 20th anniversary. During that span of time, there have been minor refurbishments, but not a major overhaul of the ride. I think that has contributed to it’s declining popularity. Most park visitors have experienced Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin already and so it isn’t at the top of most lists. Today, you rarely need a Fastpass+ for this ride. If you catch the ride in the early morning hours or late in the day you could even ride multiple times without too much of a wait. Of course, like almost anything, during peak season you should expect a wait and may even want to use a Fastpass+ if this is a can’t miss ride for your family.
That brings up the question, should this ride be updated? There are newer versions of the ride in the other Disney parks and one could argue that the technological advances in those versions could be adapted for this Magic Kingdom original. However, when I really think about this, I think I would keep the ride as is, at least for now. There are a number of changes I would like to see in Tomorrowland before we get to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Chief among these would be a reset button on the space housing Stitch’s Great Escape, but I digress. One recent update is the new Animated Magic Shot. This short video is included with Disney’s Memory Maker.
Buzz is still a fan favorite character and this ride still packs a lot of fun for the whole family. In fact, I may be in the minority here, but I actually prefer this ride over Toy Story Midway Mania! The line is never too long when I visit, I don’t get queasy from wearing 3-D glasses like I do on Toy Story, and my arm doesn’t feel like it is going to fall off after the ride is over. If you haven’t been on Toy Story Midway Mania!, that may not all make sense, but don’t worry, we are covering that ride on the next podcast! Soon it will all become clear. For today, let’s just say you definitely want to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin next time you are in the park. If you are going to ride, then you want to get the highest score possible, right? If you want to get the highest score possible you need to know which targets award the most points, right? If you want to know what targets award the most points, well my friend, you have come to the right place.
When you finish your mission aboard Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin you will see a scoring chart at the end of the ride. It will read:
Level 1: Star Cadet (0 – 1,000)
Level 2: Space Scout (1,001 – 10,000)
Level 3: Ranger 1st Class (10,001 – 100,000)
Level 4: Planetary Pilot (100,001 – 300,000)
Level 5: Space Ace (300,001 – 600,000)
Level 6: Cosmic Commando (600,001 – 999,998)
Level 7: Galatic Hero (999,999)
How do you achieve the level of Galactic Hero and wipe the floor with your competition? Well, you need to know the cheat code, I mean location of the secret targets. So, if your family is around, now is the time to politely excuse yourself. This is top secret information, the difference between vacation bragging rights and loser buying the next round of dark chocolate Mickey Mouse ice cream bars.
Before we continue I should warn you this information is not for the purist. Personally, I like to go into the ride trying to find the high targets rather than knowing where they are beforehand. Of course, I’m going to tell you so there is no way I can ever win now without feeling a little guilty. See the sacrifice I’m making for you? If you are still listening, I’m going to assume you don’t feel guilty about getting a little competitive advantage and you have removed yourself from any other listeners. Here we go!
Room 1: Look for the large orange Box-o-Bot on the left of the room. Shoot the target on the inside of his left hand for 100,000 points. Near the room’s exit look for the claw up above. This target is located near the Planet Z sign and is also worth 100,000 points. Spinning around to hit this target as you leave may provide the best shot.
Room 2: Hit the target near the very top of the volcano. This is worth 25,000 points for each successful hit. Also in this room is the alien in the box. Each hit on the alien is worth 25,000 points. The spinning target at the top of the room’s exit is worth 25,000 points.
Room 3: Find the target at the base of Zurg’s ship. This is the target at the very bottom just below the flashing sign reading “pitiful”. Hit this as many times as you can. Each shot is worth 100,000 points. Your best chance comes as you enter the room. When you are exiting, the shot gets tougher.
Room 4: Zurg’s ship will be torn apart but you can still hit the target at the very bottom of the ship for 100,000 points.
Room 5: Hit the target just below the mouth of Zurg for 75,000 points. Zurg will be swinging from the claw and you won’t have long to hit this last target so be quick!
If you find these targets and hold down on your laser canon you should reach a score of 999,999 points with relative ease. Be sure to take a picture of your score before the XP-37 resets. Show this pic to the cast member at the ride’s exit and you will get a special button to show off your Galactic Hero status! Of course, you and I will know that you cheated just a little bit, but hey, buttons are cool. That totally makes it worth it, right?
If you really want to study the above mentioned targets before your next Space Command mission, check out this video from a youtube channel called “SeeYaRealSoon”.
Whether you go into this ride with a well mapped out strategy or a fresh pair of eyes, I think you will have a great time. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is another great example of a ride the whole family can enjoy together over and over again. Add to this another great meet ’n’greet just outside the ride and you are in for a real treat. If you can catch Buzz when there isn’t a long line, you can actually get several great photos with the Space Ranger. Rachel and I found Buzz right after a rain shower last time and we had him all to ourselves for a few minutes. He was a great sport and we had a blast trying out all of our Buzz poses.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you have had fun playing the role of Space Ranger for the day. The magic of Disney is unlocking the child in each of us. I hope that you have a great week and until next time, make each day a ride worth taking!