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The true story of how Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast got its music

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast attraction is set to a jazzy, high-energy soundtrack, but did you know it spun off from two specific songs from the hit movie, “Toy Story”?

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
Photos courtesy of Disneyland Paris

The popular Buzz Lightyear attraction in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris (now celebrating its 30th Anniversary) pits new Space Ranger recruits against the Evil Emperor Zurg, and while the laser-blasting fun takes center stage, the soundtrack that follows recruits also plays a key role.

Its melody, created by composer George Wilkins, was based on two Randy Newman songs from the movie: “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” and “Strange Things.”

George had plenty of experience creating music for Disney parks, having provided tunes for Walt Disney World, including Epcot pavilions Horizons, The Land, and The Living Seas, as well as Disneyland’s Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, so when it came to the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast attraction, he was ready to take guests on a “Toy Story” trip down memory lane.

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast queue

It all starts in the queue, where George morphed the original, jazzy version of “Strange Things” into a “catchy space march” created through a combination of live instruments and electronic sound samples.

The music that follows guests as they walk toward the boarding area was intended to make them think of the “strange things” they would soon encounter on their journey, including Zurg’s robots (represented by the song’s chorus) and the creatures of Planet Z (represented by the song’s verse).

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” was adapted into a snazzy “military brass band” style, and it kicks in near the end of the ride, celebrating new recruits’ and Star Command’s victory over Zurg and his evil agents, with the help of Buzz Lightyear and the Aliens.

For the entirely instrumental soundtrack, George used a synthesizer to create the sound of string instruments, and he combined brass sounds played on a keyboard with an acoustic piccolo trumpet. Snare drums – played by the legendary percussionist Don Williams – were added to “Strange Things.”

George also incorporated sounds at the start of the attraction which were made by a musical instrument called a theremin, which was commonly used to create the distinctive “eerie” twang to the music in many 1950s and 1960s sci-fi B movies, lending the attraction a “vintage” feel that lands somewhere between a sci-fi movie and a video game – with just a hint of the humor those older movies provided.

Evil Emperor Zurg

Sound effects within the attraction were also important elements George took into account, such as the laser blasters’ high-pitched tone. He chose lower frequency tones for the score, so as not to distract guests as they took aim at the attraction’s targets.

The composer’s goal was to add to the story’s development and trigger emotions, all while remaining just far enough in the background that Rangers could pay full attention to their mission, and come out of it successful.

And that’s how every Ranger launches “To infinity and beyond,” with the movie’s modified melodies as their companion.

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