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Battle of the Blasters

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Disney has put before us two attractions that pit guests vs guests, or single-riders vs single-riders. Both have the same beloved characters from Toy Story, but one focuses more on a single star from the movie franchise. In both, you have the opportunity be ranked on your ability for accuracy and speed. I thought it would be fun to look at Toy Story Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios versus Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland.

Opened in the fall of 1998, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin features guests vs guests in an experience that is 'out of this world'. Seated in an omnimover, guests are battling the evil Emperor Zurg on a quest to gain points by shooting lasers at batteries throughout the former If You Had Wings attraction. The colorful attraction features blacklights, neon glows and the ability to spin your ride vehicle any way you want (trust me, when I was young, I wouldn't care about the points...I was all about spinning it in pure circles until my dad made me stop!).

The familiar sound of Buzz Lightyear and the Aliens along with Zurg appear throughout the attraction, giving you motivation our taunting you as you continue your journey.

My gripe about this attraction, though, is something that I've already mentioned. The ability to control your own vehicle. This is something that Toy Story Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios has a major benefit from...but more on that in a bit.

The targets in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin can also be more difficult to hit as your 'gun' has limited moving room, the buttons are showing age and not always working (from experience), and the omnimover can give you a difficult time to set up and aim.

The queue for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is fun, and is normally constantly moviing, albeit slowly. But the speaking Buzz Lightyear has moved to the end of the actual ride now, taking it out from the queue where it had been for some years.

Now lets talk about Toy Story Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Or as I like to call it, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin 2.0, without much Buzz.

Toy Story Mania opened with huge fanfare in 2008 at Disney's HOllywood Studios and in my opinion, while I LOVE the Space Ranger Spin, think they've tackled a lot of the problems with Buzz Lightyear's Tomorrowland feature. Allow me to explain.

The ability for accuracy has greatly improved. Not only do the ride vehicles stop at each screen, the ability to move around your 'gun' is a lot smoother. You're being timed on each screen, and get a fair warning when the attraction will move on to the next screen.

Instead of a button that could get worn down over time (see my discription of Buzz's attraction above), you're pulling on a string that releases the ammo to the screen. And in actuality you aren't releasing anything...rather the accuracy of your gun tells the ammo where to go.

The colors in the attraction make the queue bright and fun, and parents will see a tip of the hat to many boardgames of their childhood. If you're lucky, Mr. Potatohead might even interact with you in the queue!

Overall, I think Disney fixed up many problems with Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and have given guests a much more enhanced experience in Toy Story Mania. Plus, the 3D in Toy Story Mania with 4D effects during the ride also makes it more enjoyable.

While both of these attractions are fun, if you only have time to do one on your Walt Disney World vacation, make it a trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Toy Story Mania.

Have fun!

About this column

Chris Reid is the host of Cosmic Reid's Starlight Cafe on Magical Mouse Radio and loves to talk about Disney's Hollywood Studios


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