- “Remember, look not into the eyes of Mara.”
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye is an enhanced motion vehicle dark ride attraction based on the Indiana Jones films. Guests accompany intrepid archeologist Dr. Indiana Jones on a quest through a dangerous lost temple, then board military troop transport vehicles for a turbulent high-speed adventure. It premiered at Disneyland to invitation-only celebrities on March 3, 1995, and opened to the general public on March 4, 1995.
Tokyo DisneySea in Chiba, Japan, hosts Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, a nearly identical adventure. (This attraction is not to be confused with the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was developed and released after the attraction's opening.)
Following the success of Star Tours and Captain EO, Walt Disney Imagineering and George Lucas would next seek to collaborate on an Indiana Jones project. In the late 1980s, this concept would be developed as an enormous multi-attraction complex in Adventureland titled Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition. This would have featured a mine cart rollercoaster attraction, a jeep adventure, and a walkthrough temple maze. Additionally, both the Disneyland Railroad and the Jungle Cruise would pass through, with the Jungle Cruise serving as an alternative transport to the temple complex. Because of the concept's vast scope, it would be shelved in favor of focusing on Splash Mountain. After the opening of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the concept would be revisited in a scaled down format that lost the rollercoaster and interconnecting elements and condensing the walkthrough attraction into the new attraction's queue, becoming Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The Jungle Cruise would be re-routed to accommodate the attraction's queue.
The team tested key show elements in a Burbank warehouse on a full-sized elevated track that resembled a freeway. This enabled the team to test set pieces, lighting, effects, transport clearances and motion profiles.
Groundbreaking for the Temple of the Forbidden Eye occurred in August 1993. More than 400 Imagineers worked on its design and construction. Tony Baxter led a core project team of nearly 100 Imagineers. To create space for the queue area and the show building, an area of the former "Eeyore" parking lot was demolished, and the Monorail and Jungle Cruise attractions were rerouted.
Disney filed for a patent on the ride's system on November 16, 1995.
The Temple of the Forbidden Eye premiered on March 3, 1995. Among the invited celebrity guests were George Lucas, Michael Eisner (Disney CEO at the time), Dan Aykroyd, and Carrie Fisher. To promote the opening of the attraction the Disney Channel produced an hour-long TV program entitled Indiana Jones Adventure featuring Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies reprising their roles from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Forty days prior to the attraction's opening, a "Forty Years of Adventure" promotion giveaway of 40 unique annual trading cards began. Guests with valid paid admission received a voucher at the main gate turnstile to exchange for the card of the day, each in a series featuring the landmark attraction of the year starting with 1955. The last card was distributed on March 2, 1995. A special "41st" card of larger issue featured the Indiana Jones Adventure on March 3. Artist Drew Struzan produced a one-sheet poster in the same theme as the films. The adventure opened to general admission on March 4.
AT&T Corporation sponsored the construction of the attraction and the first seven years of operation, from 1995 to 2002. One of three styles of Marabic decoder cards was distributed to each guest, advertising their promotional campaign on the back. "It’s great to have AT&T as presenting sponsor," said Disneyland President Paul Pressler. "With Disneyland celebrating its 40th Anniversary and preparing to open its most exciting attraction, we welcome the opportunities this relationship is sure to create." Currently, the attraction has no sponsor.
The ride was temporarily closed on September 4, 2012 for an extensive refurbishment and re-opened on December 7, 2012. Scheduled modifications included enhancements to lighting, paint, figure animation, and other effects.
The story, set in 1935, is told through twelve letters and telegrams scattered throughout the queue as well as three newsreels shown before guests board the attraction. Indiana Jones has reunited missing fragments of a map scroll of parchment documenting the precise location of an ancient Bengalese temple. The Temple of the Forbidden Eye, containing countless intriguing artifacts buried beneath silt (silt is from rivers and makes land fertile) by a flood of the Lost River Delta over two thousand years ago, is undergoing excavation for archeological research. The temple deity Mara seems to conditionally offer one of three gifts to all who come to the hallowed site: earthly riches, eternal youth, or visions of the future. The only condition is that one may never gaze into the eyes of Mara. Although Jones’ discovery, dubbed the "Temple of the Forbidden Eye" by the media, has set the archaeological community abuzz, his funding has run out. To raise money so the excavation can continue, Sallah has begun conducting guided tours. Good fortune has come to many of the tourists who survive, but others have not returned. Promising to find the missing tourists, Jones ventured inside the temple approximately one week ago, and has not yet reappeared. Jones also hoped to find the temple’s power source: the mysterious "Jewel of Power", which Abner Ravenwood believed to be within an immense cavern, beyond the Gates of Doom. Marcus Brody has asked Sallah to continue conducting the tours, in the hope they may locate Dr. Jones.
The film which introduces the attraction was written by George Lucas. The director, who also shot the film was Gregory Marquette.
The attraction’s immersive and carefully detailed queue leads guests through dimly lit temple chambers and eerie passageways containing booby-trapped sections reminiscent of the Indiana Jones movies.
The queue begins outside, winding past a 2.5 ton Mercedes-Benz troop transport truck. This is the actual vehicle used in the desert chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A small mining car near the truck is a movie prop as well, used in the mine scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Guests also walk by a noisy steam-powered engine/generator set piece, which appears to power the lights strung deep into the temple.
Much of the queue is inside the temple itself. Throughout the bowels of the temple, petroglyphs in "Marabic" warn temple visitors of the rewards and perils that can be found further within. The glyphs can be translated into English using a simple character substitution encoding. In the early months of the attraction's existence, guests were given decoder cards; while these cards are no longer distributed, the code is easily solvable as each symbol bears a strong resemblance to its corresponding letter in the English alphabet. The sole exception is the letter I, which, appropriately, resembles an eye. Where the text is painted, vowels appear in red.
The queue contains several interactive features. In the "spike room", the ceiling appears to be retained by several upright bamboo poles. When the key supporting pole is pushed, guests are startled by sounds of the ceiling dropping as the spikes begin to descend slowly toward them. In the next area, large stone blocks released from the ceiling (triggered by the diamond-shaped stones below) are barely kept in place by wooden wedges and supports; this effect has been disabled for years over liability concerns. Further on, in the Rotunda Calendar, pulling on a rope triggers responses from Dr. Dunfor Pullit, an out-of-sight archeologist supported by the rope beneath the sarcophagus stone. Various crates throughout the queue contain some significant features; one marked with the number "990 6753" refers to the number on the crate holding the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Another crate is marked "Deliver to Club Obi Wan", referring to a fictional club at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, itself a reference to the character Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars.
Eventually, guests encounter a projection of a newsreel of the discovery, followed by a safety spiel by Sallah.
Part of the attraction extends into what was once the Eeyore section of Disneyland's parking lot. As a tribute, an Eeyore sign is supported by wooden scaffolding at the very back of the projector room. Mickey and Minnie appear on the cover of a copy of Life Magazine in Professor Jones' office.
Guests board an Enhanced Motion Vehicle (EMV) intended to appear as a battered military troop transport. EMVs ride on neoprene filled tires (for operational precision) driven by brushless DC motors in the wheel hub atop the surface of a slotted roadbed. The track has only three switches: a left/right split switch just before loading/unloading, a left/right combine switch just after safety check station/dispatch and a compound switch to swap vehicles in/out of the maintenance bay, behind the mirrors. Beneath the slot, a tubular guideway guides the front wheelset and a damper for the rear wheelset, and three electrical bus bars provide the EMV 480 volts AC. The power is divided among the two motion systems, control, safety, and audio systems. Each transport can accommodate twelve guests with three rows of seats, four across, with the front left seat behind a non-operational steering wheel. Each troop transport is a motion simulator which travels at a maximum speed of just over atop a slotted roadbed/guide rail track. The transport car body is attached by three hydraulic rams to the frame of the chassis, which allows the shell to articulate independently. A guest's physically intense experience is programmed to achieve the illusion of greater speed and catastrophic mechanical failure using the enhanced-motion vehicle's ability to add several feet of lift then rapidly descend, shudder and tremble, and intensify cornering with counter bank and twist.
This ride system was invented for the Indiana Jones Adventure, and has only been implemented in two other attractions: its Tokyo DisneySea counterpart, Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, and DINOSAUR, located at Disney's Animal Kingdom (opened as CTX: Countdown to Extinction) in Orlando, Florida. However, the Japanese version uses linear-inductive actuators instead of three hydraulic rams. The 35 gallons of hydraulic fluid used on the Disneyland version takes two hours to clean up the track when a hose splits. Because of Japan's environmental codes regarding oil spills, the design team elected to substitute electromagnetic actuators on the ride vehicle. Three of these actuators are used to create a three-dimensional (pitch, roll, and elevation) motion platform chassis on which the car body sits.
- Lost Delta Camp – A variety of big band and swing tunes from the 1930s are heard on a radio in the outdoor queue.
- Temple interior – Original percussion tracks can be heard in the indoor pathways of the queue and exit. Snippets of the Raiders' March occasionally emerge faintly in the background near the optical turnstiles.
- Troop transports – dialogue, sound effects, and an orchestral soundtrack form the accompaniment tracks. This medley contains segments of John Williams' original scores for the first three Indiana Jones movies, rescored and triggered by the perils of the adventure. Richard Bellis was responsible for this adaptation process. The Raiders' March and Ark theme both feature prominently at various points.
The main ride
At the loading area, guests board the troop transport. After a quick seatbelt check and a radio announcement warning from Sallah (such as "My friends, the brakes may be needing a little adjustment – easy on the curves"), the transport moves forward, past a cluster of mirrors concealing the maintenance dock entrance, and turns a corner into the Chamber of Destiny.
Chamber of Destiny
Here guests are presented with three doors. One of the three doors begins to glow more brightly than the other two, and Mara announces which gift the passengers have chosen to receive. The doors open, and the passengers enter the Hall of Promise.
The Chamber of Destiny actually has only one operating door and corridor. The walls and ceiling of the room are designed to rotate across the working doorway and a set of four façades (two on each side of the real doorway), so that three "doors" are always visible at any given time. The doors and the Hall of Promise are lit differently based on which particular chamber has been randomly chosen. Fake tracks lead up to the other doors to enhance the effect. This is best noticeable in night vision videos of the ride. The walls and ceiling have been stuck in one position for years due to major structural issues, and the effect is now achieved via projection mapping.
Hall of Promise
- Fountain of Eternal Youth – Mara announces, "You have chosen wisely. This path leads to timeless youth and beauty." The Hall of Promise is illuminated with shimmering aqua blue light. Front-lit scrims along the walls are painted to depict true believers drinking mystic water, discarding their withered skin and emerging young and beautiful.
- Chamber of Earthly Riches – Mara announces, "You seek the treasure of Mara. Glittering gold. It is yours." The Hall of Promise is illuminated with shimmering golden light behind the scrims where of gold and other treasures are visible, rendering the Fountain of Eternal Youth scrim paintings transparent.
- Observatory of the Future – Mara announces, "You seek the future. I will lift the curtain of time. It is your destiny." The transport tilts upward, directing passengers’ eyes away from the dark scrims, and towards the dazzling star field. The Hall of Promise is dimly lit in purple and the ceiling above twinkles with 5,000 fiber optic stars.
At the end of the tunnel, the eyes of a large idol of Mara begin to flash and smoke as it says:
- "Foolish mortals! You looked into my eyes. Your path now leads to the Gates of Doom!",
- "Infidels! You looked into my eyes. Your path now leads to the Gates of Doom!", or
- "No! You looked into my eyes. Your destiny now lies beyond the Gates of Doom!"
Tunnel of Torment
The transport momentarily appears to head toward an exit, before making a sharp turn into a large crumbling corridor. Lightning flashes along the walls, illuminating large cobra statues overhead as the transport seems to "float" through the room using the EMV technology.
The Gates of Doom pulsate with green mist and an audio-animatronic Indiana Jones struggles to keep the doors closed. Jones scolds the tourists for looking into the eyes of the idol and instructs them to proceed up the steps to the left. The transport then accelerates up the flight of stairs.
The transport emerges from the passage and teeters on the edge of a vast pit of lava. Another transport is seen attempting to cross a rickety rope bridge which spans the pit under the crumbling ceiling. (The crumbling ceiling effect has since been disabled early on, as the system involved chunks of ice being dropped from a conveyor belt, and the belt mechanism was rusting quickly; despite this, the sound effect has been left in.) On the far side of the cavern, there is a 45-foot-tall stone face of Mara, the left half of which has eroded in such a way that it resembles a skull, 'lava' occasionally pouring out of its mouth into the pool below. Its left eye contains a swirling flame, and periodically shoots green rays at both means of transports, causing flames to erupt from where the beam hits.
The transport turns left and enters catacombs of false pathways lined with skeletons, some of which pop out toward the guests. A fierce wind blows from the catacombs. "Bones", an official "Hidden Mickey", is a skeleton at the left, beside the exit-way, with its right arm outstretched toward the track, wearing a Mouseke-ears hat backward and aviator glasses, displaying the embroidered name "Bones".
Suddenly, all is dark; the music tinkles with chaotic violin pizzicatos. "In the Idol's Temple", 0:35 (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
The transport's headlights flicker back on, illuminating walls swarming with thousands of beetles. Hissing sounds are heard, and adventurers are blasted with puffs of air.
The transport finally heads out of the darkness and onto the bridge which spans the pit. The transport stalls for a moment as another oncoming transport can be seen about to cross the bridge, which turns away just before reaching the bridge. The transport then accelerates across the bridge which sways and jostles under its weight. The massive stone Mara/skull shoots beams from its eye at the bridge, attempting to destroy it. The transport makes it safely across then careens to the right.
Hundreds of snakes cover the walls and ground and a large audio-animatronic cobra appears to the right of the vehicle, striking at the riders.
The transport heads back to return across the rope bridge and flashes its headlights at an oncoming transport about to cross. The transport turns sharply to the right entering behind the giant stone carving of Mara's face.
The transport slides past 1,995 human skulls (a reference to the year the attraction opened) which decorate the walls, as the spirit of Mara looms overhead.
Turning left, out of the massive stone effigy, the transport continues downward, crossing a smoldering wooden bridge beside the glowing lava, and passing under the rope bridge.
The vehicle shudders and stalls and is heard being restarted before continuing towards a hanging tree root.
As the transport nears the root, many rats are seen climbing across it and falling off into the car when another burst of speed sends the car through the tree root, which vaporizes like mist. (This effect is not achieved through holography, but through a simple video projection onto a water vapor sheet screen; as a result, the effect is subpar at best.)
The transport careens through a dimly lit tunnel with paintings of spear-wielding skeletal warriors adorning the walls. Each warrior's mouth supports a blowgun within. Blasts of air whoosh past adventurers and launching darts are heard striking the transport as it rolls over the trigger stones between the skeletal warriors, as though the tourists have set off booby traps.
The transport then approaches a dark area and stops. Indiana Jones suddenly appears above the vehicle hanging on a rope in a shaft of light.
He welcomes the adventurers' rescue and bids them to turn on the headlights and prepare for him to board. As the lights flicker on, they illuminate a massive boulder rolling toward the transport. The transport seems to back up as the boulder threatens to crush Jones and the tourists. (This effect is achieved by moving the walls of the room forward, not moving the vehicle backward.) At the last possible second, the transport accelerates and suddenly the floor seems to give way, sending the transport into the chamber below. An impact resonates through the chamber, as if the boulder has crashed down, nearly striking the transport.
Return to Base
The transport plunges down into darkness and swerves right to see Jones standing in front of the boulder, which has been cracked by its impact. An exhausted looking Dr. Jones wipes his forehead, swings his coiled whip, and says:
- "Not bad, for tourists!",
- "There! That wasn't so bad, was it?",
- "Next time, you're on your own.",
- "Next time, you wear blindfolds, okay?",
- "Don't tell me that wasn't big fun!" or
- "Tourists, why'd it have to be tourists?"
A final triumphant refrain of the music ushers the guests back into the station.
While waiting to disembark, Sallah announces over the mobile radio transceiver one of several "please remain seated" messages; more often than not the spiel is mismatched from the Hall of Promise experience, such as: "If you drank too much from the Fountain of Youth, we will be happy to assist you with strollers," when the adventurers experienced the Chamber of Earthly Riches.
There is a Hidden Mickey in the attraction:
- Mummy Chamber: A skeleton is wearing a Mickey Ears skull cap backwards, as well as aviator shades; "Bones" is embroidered on it.
- Guests at the opening included Michael Eisner, George Lucas, Dan Aykroyd, Carrie Fisher, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull at Tokyo DisneySea identical track, similar EMVs.
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! at Disney's Hollywood Studios stunt show.
- Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom identical track and EMVs.