June 17, 2024

New Wreck-It Ralph Ride Replacing Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters at Tokyo Disneyland

0

Disney announced that a new attraction based on the world of Wreck-It Ralph will debut at Tomorrowland in Tokyo Disneyland during fiscal year 2026 or later. This shares full details and concept art, plus extensive




  • Twitter

Disney announced that a new attraction based on the world of Wreck-It Ralph will debut at Tomorrowland in Tokyo Disneyland during fiscal year 2026 or later. This shares full details and concept art, plus extensive commentary–including the “Walt Disney World Connection” (and there are a couple big ones) for those who don’t have plans to visit Japan.

Let’s start with the official details. This new Wreck-It Ralph attraction at Tokyo Disneyland will be an indoor interactive game play experience, perfect for children and adults, that will be created by reimagining the existing Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters attraction. As a result, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters will permanently close in October 2024. A specific date has not yet been announced, but expect another send-off event for that fan-favorite ride.

Wreck-It Ralph, which serves as the theme for the new attraction, is an arcade-game-hopping adventure from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Ralph, who has played the bad guy in his popular video game, embarks on an action-packed journey as he sets out to prove to everyone that he is a true hero with a big heart. As he explores exciting new worlds, he teams up with some unlikely new friends including feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz.

In the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph attraction, enter the candy-themed racing game Sugar Rush, which is being attacked by Sugar Bugs – glitches created by King Candy. Guests team up with the beloved film characters Ralph and Vanellope to transform the Sugar Bugs back to their original “kawaii” confectionery such as cookies and cakes.

Guests can look forward to this new attraction at Tokyo Disneyland and immerse themselves in the world of the candy-themed racing game, Sugar Rush, while embarking on a thrilling adventure. The Planet M gift shop will also close and be rethemed (concept art below).

This is part of a bigger-picture New Tomorrowland project that revolves around rebuilding Space Mountain (concept art below). That $437 million project is expected to feature placemaking in addition to bringing a brand-new roller coaster type that’s never been used in any Disney park.

Sections of track have arrived to a staging area behind Tokyo Disneyland, and one of the first sections appears to be a portion of drop track manufactured by Intamin. That means it will not use the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride system (different manufacturer), and will instead be something Imagineering has never done before.

Turning to commentary, this is interesting for several reasons. The first is that Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters is one of the more popular rides at Tokyo Disneyland. The ride regularly commands wait times of around an hour, which is–on average–higher than Peter Pan’s Flight.

Not only that, but Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters is on the newer side, opening in 2004 at Tokyo Disneyland. Despite that, it’s better maintained than the newer version (by 1 year) of the same attraction at Disneyland in California. The ride still feels fresh thanks to high upkeep standards, and while it’s noticeably less modern than the newest incarnation at Shanghai Disneyland, it’s lighyears ahead of the version at Magic Kingdom.

To put this into perspective, this is almost the equivalent to reimagining Splash Mountain. It takes a popular ride that doesn’t feel like it’s in need of a replacement…and does it anywhere. Obviously there are key differences in motivations–Buzz Lightyear is not a controversial character in Japan (yet…we don’t know what he has planned this summer)–but it’s a somewhat similar scenario.

In a nutshell, this means that nothing is safe in Tomorrowland at Tokyo Disneyland, other than the new Happy Ride with Baymax and probably Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek (but even the latter has seen its popularity slip significantly in the last few years). It’s an inevitability that Stitch Encounter will be replaced at some point in the not-too-distant future, and even Star Tours – The Adventures Continue could go.

Those aren’t my biggest fears, though. Rather, it’s Pan Galactic Pizza Port and intergalactic hero Tony Solaroni. This is all part of an area called “AstroZone,” which was built as a placemaking project alongside the original Star Tours to alleviate congestion. The official backstory is that aliens crashed and constructed a base from parts of their damaged spaceship to communicate with their home planet. This means a lot of satellites and other (at the time) futuristic space junk. This is no longer the dominant aesthetic of Tomorrowland, and it’s almost certainly all going to change.

We are avid Solaronians (Tony Solaroni is a Sonny Eclipse-like character who toils over a pizza machine all-day in a delightfully bizarre show with some interesting undertones), but the restaurant and its surrounding area has a decidedly 1990s-kitsch feel to it. Although this is “just a pizza place,” we will be devastated when it goes. We’ve made many great memories watching Tony Solaroni. We are well aware that it’s (beyond) time and thus won’t be mad about the change…but it’ll be a big blow to our nostalgia.

As for why this is happening, it’s part of a long-term goal for Tokyo Disneyland to receive “area-based development for each themed land, to take place in stages, intended to leave a lasting impact.” That’s kind of meaningless PR speak, but what I’ve taken that to mean is that OLC wants to transform Tokyo Disneyland into its own unique park. So much of the original was copied and pasted from Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and the goal is to get away from that.

Much of the look of Tokyo Disneyland’s Tomorrowland was borrowed liberally from Magic Kingdom. (You can read more about this in Tokyo Disneyland: Bizarro Magic Kingdom, which focuses heavily on Tomorrowland.) This also has me worried that Tokyo Disneyland will change the iconic entrance, which still features the spires that were the focal point for the U.S. versions of Tomorrowland prior to their 90s redos.

These twin towering monoliths are sleek and bright, with greener than green grass and beautifully-maintained tile at the bottom of the waterway under the bridge to Tomorrowland. The entrance to Tomorrowland at Tokyo Disneyland simply oozes optimism. It’s still stunning. Whereas I understand why Tony Solaroni’s days are probably numbered and can accept that, I don’t think the same is true for these spires.

As for the “Walt Disney World Connection,” there are two components to this. The first is that there were strong rumors of a Wreck-It Ralph attraction for Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom dating back to around 2017. Those really died down around the time the Play Pavilion was announced, which was instead going to be the home to a Wreck-It Ralph presence at Walt Disney World. But guess what isn’t happening now?!

Nevertheless, I’m highly skeptical that Walt Disney World is getting a Wreck-It Ralph ride. I just don’t think the character has had the staying power necessary to justify it (I’m honestly surprised Tokyo Disneyland is getting this). If Magic Kingdom were to get a new character IP in Tomorrowland, it would probably be something Stitch or Baymax. That’s just my gut–not anything credible.

Moreover, the rumored Wreck-It Ralph ride for Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom was to replace Stitch’s Great Escape. Although I’d imagine some of the assets could be shared between the two, it was a totally different concept. Still, it’s a vague possibility of that being revived if Imagineering is already working on something Wreck-It Ralph for Tokyo.

It would also make sense that Disney would announce this now in advance of D23 Expo, as Oriental Land Co. owns Tokyo Disneyland and is not bound to that event. While new details are sometimes shared about upcoming attractions, the announcements are more geared towards the parks Disney actually owns…especially the ones in the United States. Tokyo Disneyland also likes to do send-off events for outgoing attractions, so announcing in August and then closing Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in October would be inconsistent with their normal precedent.

Speaking of OLC owning Tokyo Disneyland, this also means that the Wreck-It Ralph ride does NOT count towards the $60 billion investment planned for the parks in the next decade. Disney does not invest any money in the Japan parks. Actually, it’s the opposite–Disney is paid for what goes into Tokyo Disney Resort. The big reason Imagineering pitches OLC hard on clones from the U.S. parks is because it dilutes and thereby reduces per-park costs for those additions.

The bottom line there is that Walt Disney World could still get a separate Wreck-It Ralph attraction announcement at D23 Expo. It’s not something I had on my bingo card–and still won’t be adding since I think the odds are pretty low–but the chances just did increase slightly.

The Walt Disney World Connection that I think (and hope!) is more likely is an update to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin with Tokyo’s hand-me-downs. It’s pretty safe to assume the new Wreck-It Ralph ride at Tokyo Disneyland will reuse the existing ride system, vehicles, and layout…but nothing else. That means everything from the blasters themselves to the show scenes will go.

All of this stuff is in great shape, and could be used to spruce up the Walt Disney World version of the Buzz Lightyear ride. Space Ranger Spin has been limping along for years, and importing newer tech and showpieces from Tokyo could breathe new life into the attraction. Honestly, my first choice would be a full-scale reimagining that brings new characters to this space (how many Toy Story rides does Walt Disney World really need?), but I’d happily settle for a refresh.

This also doesn’t seem super likely, but is probably more likely than Magic Kingdom getting a sorta-similar-but-not-really Wreck-It Ralph ride. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin has gotta be nearing the end of its useful life–I cannot really imagine it escaping the next decade without a reimagining or outright replacement. So it’s probably getting some of that $60 billion at some point; it might be nice if that amount were lower thanks to hand-me-downs from Tokyo.

With all of that said, when it comes to the U.S. parks, the outcome with the highest probability is Disneyland in California getting some of the stuff from Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters at Tokyo Disneyland to use as spares or to refresh that ride. Those two versions are pretty close to the same, and there are components of the Disneyland version of Astro Blasters that are really showing their age.

But with Burbank about to turn on the money spigot for Walt Disney World and Disneyland, we can dream of bigger plans for the Tomorrowlands in Florida and California. Both of these lands in the U.S. parks need much more help than their counterpart in Japan, so let’s hope this is simply the beginning of many Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow(lands)!

Planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Trip Planning Guide! For more specifics, our TDR Hotel Rankings & Reviews page covers accommodations. Our Restaurant Reviews detail where to dine & snack. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money post. Our What to Pack for Disney post takes a unique look at clever items to take. Venturing elsewhere in Japan? Consult our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan and City Guide to Tokyo, Japan.

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of a Wreck-It Ralph ride replacing Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters at Tokyo Disneyland? Hopeful that Walt Disney World and Disneyland follow suit? Or would you be satisfied if Magic Kingdom got TDL’s hand-me-downs from Astro Blasters to reinvigorate this dated shooter? Agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!




  • Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *