Tucked far-away in a back corner of Adventureland is one of our “must-do” Disneyland attractions. The Indiana Jones Adventure is always a priority when Carol and I visit Disneyland!
The entrance to the Indiana Jones Adventure is between The Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, but the entrance for The Temple of the Forbidden Eye is a half-mile away. Yes, you read that correctly, the queue for this attraction is a half a mile long, and it’s that spectacular queue that I want to talk about in this blog!
First let’s take a look at the scope of the construction project! Building an attraction of this size and scope in a mature theme park raised some challenges. The park was fully developed, filled with popular attractions, with very little surplus space available. So, how did they do it?
Imagineer Tony Baxter was in charge of this big job, this very big job. They had to re-route the monorail and modify the Jungle Cruise river to make it all fit. The picture below shows a “bulge” in the monorail line where it was moved to create space for the new building.
The Indiana Jones Adventure took a year and a half to build; construction began in August 1993 and the attraction opened March 4, 1995.
Now, lets get back to that half-mile-long queue that runs between the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean to the 50,000 square foot “show building” which is in the site of the former Eeyore parking lot. Tony Baxter led a team of hundreds of Imagineers who designed and built a visually rich and immersive attraction!
Every Disney attraction has a backstory and the Indiana Jones Adventure has one that fans of the movie series will find very exciting. The backstory is laid out in clues which attentive guests can read and see as they pass through the entry queue. Read the letters and telegrams posted along the queue, watch the newsreels and all will be revealed!
It is 1935 and you are in India, at the Lost River Delta. Intrepid adventurer Indiana Jones has pieced together clues and map fragments resulting in his discovery of an ancient Bengalese temple, buried for over 2000 years in the river silt. The Temple of the Forbidden Eye!
The temple God, Mara, offers visitors one of three gifts, earthly riches, eternal youth, or visions of the future – but there is a catch! Guests must never gaze into the eyes of Mara!
Indiana Jones is leading the excavation at the site, but funding for the project is tight. To raise money to continue the dig Sallah (played by John Rhys-Davies) has been offering guided tours of the temple. Many of the tourists have been granted riches, youth or visionary powers, but some have not returned. Jones went in search of the missing guests and has not been heard from in over a week . . . now it’s time for your tour!
Keep your eyes open as you pass through the entry queue and this story will be evident in the clues you find. But beware of all the booby-traps! Don’t step on the diamond shaped cobble stones, they activate the traps! Look for artifacts from the movies; that big Mercedes-Benz troop transport truck you see as you enter is from the first Indiana Jones movie. You can almost visualize Harrison Ford crawling beneath it as it careens down the road!
When you encounter a rope with a sign asking you not to pull the rope, be sure to give it a yank. Just ignore the sign and pull!
It’s an awesome entry that you should take time to enjoy. If you get a FastPass and dash through every time you’re missing a very rich experience. Take your time and look around, soak in all the amazing details the Imagineers added just for you!
Here’s a project for you! Throughout the entries chambers and passages the walls are filled with petroglyphs written in “Marabic”.
They give you hints about the riches and the perils ahead of you. When the attraction first opened special cards were given to all guests. They were designed to help guests translate the Marabic into English.
Click on the image below to see a larger version of the decoder, then save the file. Print it and take a copy along on your next trip to Disneyland.
At the end of the queue, just before you board the truck for your tour, Sallah gives you some final safety instructions and then you buckle-up for the adventure! The vehicles resemble large jeeps and hold 12 passengers in three rows, four abreast. They are full of hydraulic activators which move the vehicles in all sorts of different ways, every ride is unique as the vehicle bounces, careens, slows then races through the temple.
The Indiana Jones Adventure shares the same ride system used in Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur attraction, but neither of us likes Dinosaur. We don’t enjoy the many long dark passages and find it very rough, bumpy and uncomfortable. The “Indy” ride, on the other hand, is amazing! Yes, it’s bumpy but it’s so exciting and so engaging that we are captivated by our surroundings.
It’s filled with scenes reminiscent of the movies, ancient relics, evil curses, rickety bridges, giant rolling boulders and of course, “Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes?” Scene after exciting scene from the movies pass as you hurtle by in your jeep!
So, the next time you visit Disneyland be sure to take a slow stroll through the queue at Indiana Jones Adventure. Take time to look for all those clues, translate those petroglyphs. Savour the experience that Tony Baxter and all those other Imagineers built just for you.
Don’t worry, things will speed up as soon as you board your jeep!
Oh, one final thing, that petroglyph I showed you earlier?
It reads: “True rewards await those who choose wisely”