The Indiana Jones Adventure attraction at Disneyland's Adventureland debuted to the public 10 years ago, on March 3, 1995. MousePlanet staff photographer Frank Anzalone was there as a press photographer for Disney magazine, and he looks back on his experience.
An adventurer is ready to take the challenge and guide guests through the entrance to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
There were media representatives and celebrities from all over the world to experience and report on this new Disneyland attraction, and Disney made a tremendous effort to make a lasting impression.
Hockey player Wayne Gretzky is one of the many celebrities that attend the dedication of the new attraction in 1995. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
I left the Media Center that morning and followed the return to park signs, ending up in the exit queue of the Indiana Jones attraction. Instead of going out towards Adventureland and the park with the others, I decided to stay, explore and I headed into the ride itself. I found the loading area of the attraction where the cast members were testing. I couldn't help but walk slow, look all over this queue, and try to notice the details and finesse of design this new attraction had to offer.
Comedian Sinbad is one of the first to test drive into the Forbidden Temple. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
There is an area, like a room with chicken-wire walls, containing many interesting artifacts on display. This room was filled with many old cameras, digging equipment, maps and a workbench full of neat archaeological stuff. On a workbench desk, there was a Life magazine that is mostly covered upjust the corners showing. This old magazine was from the late 1930s and had Mickey Mouse on the cover. Ah-ha! A hidden Mickey!
Bryan Jowers of Walt Disney Imagineering, part of the story-design team for Indy. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
After a little more exploring, I ran into a gentleman who seemed to know much about this attraction. It was Skip Lange, the Indiana Jones attraction Show Director from Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI). He explained a few interesting details WDI did to give credibility to the story. On the room with the artifactsthe exterior walls are made of 1-inch-by-6-inch wood planks. Some of these pieces of wood have (stenciled) markings on them. One says, Top Secret and another has the ID number 9906763. These are the same markings found on the crate that they used to box up the ark at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Another stencil marking on the wood wall was the name of the sea vessel that was in the second Indiana Jones movie.
George Lucas and Michael Eisner present the new attraction poster at the Disney Gallery. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
There is a photograph on the wall, just before you go up the stairs to the loading area, of what appears to be a caravan of vehicles going through rough terrain to get to the temple. Disney actually took the vehicles [the outside shells] with actors and went out to photograph this for the décor of the queue. In another part of the queue area, there are three large carved tablets that tell the story of the Temple Offerings: The Gift of Future Knowledge, The Gift of Earthly Riches, and The Gift of Eternal Youth. These tablets are all written in Mara, the hieroglyphic font that WDI designed for this attraction. It is amazing how many awesome yet subtle details tie the attraction in with the Indiana Jones movies. More than just a ride the story building as you work your way through is well thought out, just adding to the overall experience of this new attraction.
Now on to the ride!
George Lucas and Michael Eisner arrive in true Indy fashion to the dedication ceremony. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
This ride is awesome! The first time through this attraction was intense! You board into an Enhanced Motion Vehicle (EMV) transport car. This vehicle was developed and patented by WDI. It looks very much like an open-air desert transportation vehicle. As you depart the loading area, you enter into a room with three doors. Each door represents an entrance into one of the three temple's offerings (future knowledge, earthly riches, and eternal youth). The 12-person vehicle has a computer on board and the direction/theme selection is random. You never know which door you will enter.
Riding in the EMV is like riding in a 4x4 vehicleyou feel every bump. But this is the effect that WDI wanted to achieve on purpose. A terrible, tortuous fate awaits those who gaze upon the eyes of Mara!
Indiana Jones stunt actor makes his appearance to open the path to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
A couple of facts: Fully synchronized, on-board sound system gives each guest full stereo sound. The adventure will never be exactly the same twice, with nearly 160,000 possible combinations of show programming and variations. A maximum total of 15 vehicles can cycle through the attraction at one time. A new vehicle is dispatched into the attraction every 18 seconds (2,400 temple visitors an hour capacity). As part of the attraction, there are over 2,129 sculpted, carved, painted or living representations of snakes.
George Lucas is honored again to be a part of a new Disney attraction and helps dedicate the new thrill ride. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
The vehicle is actually a simulator on wheels. This car moves on all four wheels throughout the ride (all wheels always remain on the ground) but the car swerves, banks, skids, stalls, backs up and gives you the full sensation of the car wheels lifting up off the ground. You would swear that the car was really making those hard banking turns and flying up, off the wheels around the corners. I felt the rear seats (far left and right) of the EMV gave the most movement sensation and the best view of the attraction. You are engulfed in this huge room with many things happening around you.
The EMVs are truly a wonder. Once, in the middle of the ride, the car stalls (part of that particular script), the sound track mellows and you feel the sensation of the car trying to start (like the engine cranking on a cold morning). It sputters and when it finally starts, it peels out and skids around a corner. Amazing!
Indiana Jones stunt actors, Michael Eisner and George Lucas at the dedication of the Indiana Jones Attraction. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
After my 17 test-trips in a row through the Temple [and one trip I was the only person on the only vehicle moving through the temple!], it was time to make my way back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the dedication ceremony the next day.
I took my place on the media platform well in advance of the event, and had an opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with Renie Bardeau (official Disneyland photographerwho took many pictures of Walt, including the very popular image of Walt walking into Fantasyland through the Castle). He had me working at his side that dayright next to the pro! A special moment for me!
Indiana Jones stunt actor carefully places the orb to trigger the sequence of events that will open the passage to the temple. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
The dedication was officiated by Michael Eisner and George Lucas, with the assistance of a few actors and stunt actors. Both of them made quick and basic opening remarks to welcome the media, then in true Disney fashion, the show of the event began. After the fight scene (Indy slid down a rope from the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House), Indiana Jones carefully placed a golden sphere on the head of a snake at the podium. This was some sort of mystical trigger that opened up a barricade blocking the entrance to the newly discovered Temple with a big pyrotechnic explosion.
Let's go to the ridefollow me! exclaimed Eisner. I wasted no time and was off behind the executives and other media into the queue. Quite a production! The press was invited to ride this new attraction. Michael and George rode a car equipped with a point-of-view video camera. After they got back to the boarding area, I was there to capture the moment. Standing in front of the vehicle (almost where the ride operator stands), I got the attention of Michael and George as the vehicle came to a halt. They held a pose for me while both sitting in the vehicle after experiencing the ride. ClickA Kodak moment! Thanks guys!
Michael Eisner and George Lucas take a moment's breath after experiencing a thrill ride tour through the temple. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
This attraction continues to be one of the most popular thrill rides at Disneyland. The technology has made it into other Disney attractions both at Disneyland and Walt Disney World (Dinosaur Countdown to Extinction). The attraction was designed with a huge queue line that was supposed to pull the waiting guests off the streets of Adventurelandanyone remember the line out to Main street when this first opened? Most times you just walk briskly past all this to get to the vehicle loading area and miss most of the great design details of the queue. It's too bad, since there was such care given to the detail of telling the story of this attraction before you ever get to the ride vehicle. This attraction seems to have held up mechanically very well for the first 10 years of operation. WDI did an awesome job in the research-and-development phase; the quality shows and it has paid offgiving many Disney guests a great experience during the past decade. I would expect this adventure to be running and just as exciting when I return to Disneyland to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2015.
The snake and sphere combination unlocks the entrance to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
(Send an email to Frank Anzalone)
Frank is a mild-mannered marketing/advertising photographer by day, but his true passion is his professional band, Sage. His web site, mckyfoto.com, sports an impressive collection of Disney photos from his period as an official photographer for Disney Magazine. Frank has also published a book, "Images and Art of Santana Row", a coffee table style picture book of the grand new lifestyle shopping and entertainment destination in San Jose, CA.
Frank shot all of the photos for this article with Nikon camera gear. (Nikon D2x and D80 digital cameras with 18-55 zoom, 24-200 zoom and 80-400 zoom lenses, and a Nikon SB 800 flash for fill light).
Frank lives in Northern California with his wife, Karen. Premier annual passholders to both Disneyland Resort and WDW Resort, the Anzalones visit Disneyland and WDW as time permits in their busy schedule.