"Please give a big green welcome to everybody's favorite space ranger... Buzz Lightyear!" hollered the sergeant of the green army men, as Sheriff Woody, his horse Bullseye, cowgirl Jessie, and Bo Peep looked on.
But the toy spaceman did not appear.
"Everybody's favorite space ranger, Buzz Lightyear!" the sergeant restated, but Buzz was no where to be found. Instead, his creator, John Lasseter, jumped to the stage.
"I forgot to tell you that Buzz blasted off on a special mission in outer space. Not toy outer space... real outer space," explained Disney-Pixar's chief creative officer.
No, this was not an early preview of "Toy Story 3," which is targeted for theaters in 2010, but rather a part of the opening ceremonies for "Toy Story Mania," the newest attraction at Disneyland Resort's California Adventure in Anaheim. The festivities, held on June 17, included the on orbit debut for the space ranger who was introduced in Lasseter's 1995 film, "Toy Story".
Now it was the science of NASA rather than the magic of Disney that garnered the 'oohs and aahs' from the crowd of invited guests and the loudest perhaps, from Lasseter himself. A large screen projected video of the 12-inch toy Buzz Lightyear floating alongside NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff on-board the International Space Station (ISS).
"Wow! That is awesome!" exclaimed Lasseter. "Oh man, I am sorry, but to see a character you created floating in space... that is amazing."