Don’t Look into the Eye!
Within the vast jungles and far reaches of India, sitting along the bank of a river sits a temple rich in ancient history and jewels…well, not really, but thats what it looks like from the que right outside of the Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland in Disneyland. With the success of the Indiana Jones movies and the connection with George Lucas, Disney Imagineering decided to take advantage of what they saw as a lucrative property and add the Indiana Jones character to Disneyland.
Prior to Indiana Jones coming to Disneyland, George Lucas was asked for the use of the Indiana Jones character in a show that was desperately needed for the new MGM-Disney Studios at the Walt Disney World resort. When the Studios park opened on May 1st of 1989, the park was seriously lacking attractions, with only the Backlot Tour and the Great Movie Ride being the only two que attractions. Imagineers quickly added in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular in August of 1989 to keep guests in the new park. The show was groundbreaking with the use of computers triggering all of the effects in the show, and with the live actors and crowd involvement, the show was a smash hit. Disney jumped at the chance to bring the Indiana Jones character to Disneyland but how? With limited space and no storyline yet, how would the create something that made sense to build in the Happiest Place on Earth?
Like the original concepts for both Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, Imagineers planned to add in a walk-through attraction inside a temple within Adventureland. That idea was scrapped for a mine train roller coaster attraction, but that was even scrapped for something much more unique. What Disney Imagineering finally decided on was the most elaborate dark ride to date along thanks to what would become known as the enhanced motion vehicle.
The enhanced motion vehicle is the a travelling motion simulator on wheels. With the use of hydraulics, Imagineers could create the feeling of rough roads, dips, steep hills, and sharp turns on a vehicle that glides smoothly along a track. Disney, being so pleased with the ride system, put a patent on it in 1995 to keep it away from rival parks. Since the Indiana Jones Adventure, the enhanced motion vehicle has only been used twice, once in the duplicate Japanese version of the Indiana Jones Adventure, and the second in Dinosaur at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Groundbreaking began in August of 1993 with Tony Baxter leading the project. To create suck a large temple, 50,000 square feet to be exact, as well as a que for the attraction, several adjustments had to be made at Disneyland. The demolition of the Eeyore parking area was the first thing to go, but then the monorail as well as the Jungle Cruise river had to be moved in order to build the temple as big as Imagineers wanted it to be.
The que itself, attraction aside, is quite a feat on its own. Guests may not know this, but the que, spread at full length, is a half of a mile long and is lined with actual movie props from the Indiana Jones movie. The Mercedes-Benz troop truck just outside of the que is actually from the Raiders of the Lost Ark and the mine car that sits right outside the temple entrance is from the Temple of Doom film. Also, much like Star Tours, there are several interactive elements to the que at the Indiana Jones Adventure. The most noticable of these interactive elements is the “spike” room. Suddenly you’ll start to hear rumblings in the room and if you look up, you will slowly see spikes coming out of the ceiling, but there is no lowering of the ceiling so don’t panic, and yes I’m talking to all the 15 year old girls that read this.
The attraction opened on March 3rd, 1995 and a slew of celebrity guests were invited including George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, and Dan Aykroyd. (Don’t ask why Aykroyd was there as all other celebrity guests made sense. I don’t have the answer.) Opening for the general public was March 4th, 1995 and, like so many other opening attractions, people came in droves. As guests walked into the que, they were handed decoder cards to be able to read the “marabic” writings inside the temple. These cards were also advertisements for the sponsor of the attraction, AT&T, which also helped fund the construction and remained the sponsor for the first 7 years after opening.
The attraction itself is massive in scope and is a 3.5 minute journey through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Riders first board the enhanced motion vehicle and head down a corridor with three doors, displaying the possible three journeys riders may go on. This in face, is an illusion as there is only one door that opens, however the walls around the door move to display other doors making it seem like you are choosing the left, right, or center door. Regardless of the choice, riders look into the eye of Mara, the temple’s deity, and are sent through the Gates of Doom. Through the gates, the transport becomes bumpy. Along for the ride, passengers now face a lava pit, snakes, skeletons, rats, bugs, and a room filled with 1,995 skulls to commemorate the year of the attraction’s opening. To top this all off, you are chased down into a cavern by the rolling boulder from the Raiders of the Lost Ark film just before Indiana Jones saves you and you return to the loading dock.
Despite the attraction being open over 15 years now, it is still a technological marvel and an attraction that changed the landscape of Adventureland, both figuratively and literally. The Indiana Jones Adventure still brings in large crowds all day long, so I suggest a fast pass for this attraction if you are looking to wait less than 30 mintues to an hour. To finish off this adventurous article on a personal note, I have to say this is one of the top attractions at the entire Disneyland resort and it excites me everytime I ride. It also excites me to think of the possibilities this attraction has opened up with its push in technology. Where will be be 15 years from now and how did this attraction help us to get there? It’s a fun journey of a ride and I have to tip my hat to those Imagineers that put in hard work to make this one a reality because they took the Indiana Jones movies and brought them to life.