Thursday, November 3, 2011

78. O.T.D. - 11/3/98 - Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin Opens


Little Buzz and Mama
Today we say happy 13th birthday to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. It is one of the most popular attractions in Tomorrowland and certainly a favorite of our five year old son. Buzz Lightyear is part dark ride and part shooting gallery and is based on the popular Toy Story movies. It features an Omnimover system similar to the Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth. However, each car contains two laser guns and a vehicle rotating joystick to help you aim at the various targets throughout the ride. Each target has point values from 100 points up to 10,000 points and the goal is to beat the person sitting next to you. The 4 1/2 minute ride is fun for all ages and can get pretty interesting among competitive family members.

If You Had Wings
Prior to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, there were several other attractions that used the same basic Omnimover ride layout, minus the guns and vehicle rotating joystick. The original tenant of this space was "If You Had Wings" which debuted on June 5, 1972, less than a year after the opening of the Magic Kingdom. It was sponsored by Eastern Air Lines and featured travel destinations that were all served by Eastern. The ride vehicles would move through theater-like sets with rear projected scenes displayed on small movie screens. The cars swiveled to give guests a good view throughout the ride. In all, there were thirty-eight 16mm projectors used in the attraction. There is little question that this ride was a 4 1/2 minute commercial for Eastern Airlines and where they could fly you.  However, it was a fun little journey (with a catchy theme song) that holds a special place in the hearts of old school Walt Disney World fans.

On June 1, 1987, Eastern Airlines' fifteen year sponsorship of "If You Had Wings" came to an end and the ride closed. Five days later the attraction re-opened as "If You Could Fly" and all references to Eastern, including the original theme song, had been removed. On January 4, 1989, If You Could Fly was permanently closed. Later that year, Delta Air Lines took over the sponsorship of the attraction and it opened as Delta Dreamflight on June 23, 1989. Although it used the same ride system as the previous attraction, Dreamflight had all new scenery and music. It's theme was basically a pop-up book version of the history of flight using basic sets, projection effects, and some Audio-Animatronics.  Dreamflight lasted until June 4, 1996 when it was closed to make way for the creation of the "Buzz" ride that we have today.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin was a huge hit when it debuted thirteen years ago and is still just as popular today. On busy days, the wait times can approach an hour and there is almost always a pretty long line, so I certainly recommend using FASTPASS whenever possible. However, this is one of those "not to be missed" attractions, especially if you have a young boy in the family!

Have a Disneyriffic Day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

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