Buzz Lightyear Returns – Magic Kingdom Parade

Buzz Lightyear

On May 31, 2008, the space shuttle Discovery rocketed from earth to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). Besides it seven human crew members, a galactic hero was onboard for the mission. Buzz Lightyear journeyed “to infinity and beyond” once again. But this time, instead of doing battle with the infamous Emperor Zurg, Buzz was working with his pals at Disney and NASA to help encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology, and mathematics.

Buzz and the Space Shuttle

Here we see his friend Woody waving goodbye as Buzz begins his important mission.

Woody waving goodbye to Buzz

Buzz, NASA, and Disney have created an online program known as Space Ranger Education Series. Here, kids can find educational games and teachers can download classroom curriculum. Buzz’s adventures aboard the ISS were invaluable in creating this program.

Buzz’s 467 days in space beats the former record set by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov set in 1995 by a month.

After fulfilling his duties on board the ISS, Buzz returned home on the space shuttle Discovery on September 11th of this year.

On October 2nd, Buzz Lightyear and astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Mike Fincke kicked off the “Celebrate a Dream Come True” parade in a ticker-tape procession through the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Kick-off Banner

Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin

Mike Fincke

Mike Fincke

Mike Fincke

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Main Street Philharmonic

Walt Disney World Band

Here’s a little bit of Buzz Lightyear trivia for you. As you know from the movie “Toy Story,” Buzz learns he’s a toy halfway through the film. So in essence, he has two personalities, galactic hero and Andy’s plaything. Keeping this in mind, these personalities are kept separate at Walt Disney World. Any encounter you have with Buzz at the Magic Kingdom, albeit it an attraction, parade, or meet-&-greet, he still thinks he’s a champion of justice. But if you interact with Buzz at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, he realizes he’s a toy. It’s a subtle difference, but an important detail.

9 Replies to “Buzz Lightyear Returns – Magic Kingdom Parade”

  1. The young lady driving the camero for Mr. Fincke is my cousin Stephanie!!! She is a cast member at WDW. My Uncle called my husband and I right after the parade to let us know – while we were at Disneyland celebrating our anniversary! What exciting news and I can’t wait to actually get to talk to her about it!!

  2. Thanks Jack!
    Once again thanks for making me smile and helping me feel like a kid again. I can’t wait to show this to my son!

    “The Disney Fanatic”

  3. Great story Jack !
    I was at this parade too, standing across from the Bakery at the other end of Main St. When they got to that point Buzz Lightyear was riding in the car with Mike Fincke, they took him out and put him in his own car for the trip down Main St. What a thrill to see Buzz Mike and Buzz !

  4. One of the tips I learned is that if you ask Buzz at MK if he is a toy, he will tell you no. If you ask Buzz when he is at DHS, he will tell you he is.

  5. What a nice way to honor our astronauts. Sure wish we were there for that parade. Wouldn’t it be nice to see this more often!!!!!!! Buzz will never get old in my book! From Buzz Light year ride in Magic Kingdom to Toy Story Mania, the fun just doesn’t stop. Thanks for all the pics and information on such a wonderful event!

  6. Jack,

    What a thrill to see Buzz Aldrin!!!! My son was over the moon (no pun intended) to see Buzz Lightyear return to earth. He has been haunting the internet for stories, so I can’t wait to show him your blog! Thanks for the great pictures and the on-the-ground reporting of what must have been an amazing parade.

  7. I had no idea that the two Buzz Lightyear personalities were kept totally separate! That is so cool! I wonder how those differences would translate in behaviour changes.

  8. Jack,

    Did they do the whole parade route starting over by Splash Mountain, or was this just down Main Street? Either way, I think it’s pretty cool that they celebrated this achievement for Buzz, both of them, oh, and Mike too.

    I never noticed the differences in Buzz between MK and Hollywood Studios. Of course, the only time we saw Buzz, in person, was for a photo op across from Midway Mania. I will have to pay closer attention to these things. All what makes a Disney vacation magical, right?


    Jack’s Answer:

    Buzz Lightyear and his associates made the complete trip from Splash Mountain all the way down Main Street. Disney made a big deal out of this as they had numerous photographers and even a video camera on a boom next to where I was standing. They wanted to capture this magical moment to celebrate his triumphant return to earth.

  9. Wow, Jack- is the parade Buzz an animatronic?
    Oh boy, I hope this isn’t a stupid question.

    Jack’s Answer:

    Buzz is a real, living, sentient being. What do you mean, animatronic?

    Seriously, this was the actual Buzz Lightyear toy that went into space. He’s identical to any Buzz toy you could buy in a department store. He is articulated, but not AudioAnimatronics. However, the little car he was riding in was radio controlled.

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