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The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure

by Tad on June 30, 2023 Los Angeles   Video

Secret History of Rides - Indiana Jones AdventureI remember when I was finally tall enough to ride Indiana Jones Adventure. I was toadally frogcited to experience the most adventurous attraction in the park, and it isn't even a roller coaster! You enter the crumbling Temple of the Forbidden Eye with your optional Mara Decoder Card to interpret the ancient writing on the walls while you wait in line. You avoid booby traps in the queue — or set them off! — and then board an off-road transport vehicle. What a wild ride!

It's still the same off-road adventure today. The ride underwent a refurbishment in 2023, adding some new scenes and technological improvements. Here’s the not-so-ancient history and present-day experience of Indiana Jones Adventure. Plus, we reveal some hidden secrets about the queue and ride as well as tips for riding.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Forbidden Turnover

Overview of Indiana Jones Adventure

Indiana Jones Adventure (then called Temple of the Forbidden Eye) opened March 4, 1995, well before I was born. But I was born to ride it! Indiana Jones Adventure simulates taking a wild Jeep ride through some caverns. There are no big drops or inversions to worry about, but you do go around some sharp turns and over rough and rugged terrain, as well as up and down some hills. The 12-person vehicle has three rows of four. It's unlike anything you've ever experienced ... unless you've ridden Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The two rides have the same track and vehicle, but that's where the similarities end.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - View of ride

Indiana Jones Adventure has a height requirement of 46 inches (117 cm) or taller. It's great for kids, tweens, teens and adults. All riders should be in good health and free from high blood pressure or back, neck or heart problems. It has darkness, loud noises and somewhat scary scenery. Guests must transfer from a wheelchair or ECV. Expectant mothers should not ride. The queue does have steps, so if you need an elevator, talk to cast members.

Indiana Jones Adventure Queue

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - exterior of Indiana Jones Adventure

Indiana Jones Adventure has one of the best themed and most immersive queues at Disneyland. They no longer hand out decoder cards to everyone, but when you enter the queue, you can still ask a cast member for a decoder card if you want one! The queue moves so quickly past the writing that you don't realistically have time to decode. But you can take a picture and decode secret messages at your leisure (or look at some of our translations).

You start out in the jungle at an archeological site in the shadows of the looming Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The pathway is flanked by snake statues, foreshadowing something you will experience on the ride. You'll walk past a Mercedes-Benz German patrol truck, which was an actual movie prop from Raiders of the Lost Ark (from the truck chasing scene). When you exit the ride building after riding, note the mine cart, which may be a nod to "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Eye above the building entrance

You'll head up the bridge to enter the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. There is a warning to all enter the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Carved into the stone above the temple's entrance, the Mara script reads, "BEWARE THE EYE OF MARA."

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Mural of MaraAfter you step into the temple you'll notice a mural depicting Mara and three destinies (eternal youth, riches or future knowledge), more foreshadowing, telling you one of the gifts you may receive if you are worthy. To the right of the Mara mural, you'll notice Mara script going around the top of the circular chamber.

The script reads, "LOOK NOT INTO THE EYE OF MARA AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF ETERNAL YOUTH, EARTHLY RICHES OR FUTURE KNOWLEDGE."

After leaving the first chamber, guests come across a full wall of Mara script.

It reads, "IT IS FORBIDDEN TO PASS BEYOND THIS CHAMBER WITHOUT A SERVANT OF MARA TO GUIDE YOUR PATH. HEED THIS WARNING OR RISK INCURRING THE WRATH OF MARA FOR DOOM AWAITS THE UNBELIEVER IN THE DARKNESS BEYOND."

Along the main hallway, there is a stone relief of Mara. The Mara script above that statue says, "ONLY THE BLIND SHALL SEE."

You'll pass through caves that look like they are dripping in gold. Fun fact, the Frog Family visited a cave on a vacation once that looked just like the gold cave in the queue. The guide told us that it is in fact a fungus that creates that shiny gold look. I only mention this because it gave me a new perspective on the Indy queue and the detailed accuracy in depicting a natural cave.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Bamboo pole

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Pull the ropeIn the spike room, you'll see a bamboo pole that's got a slight bend to it on the left-hand side. The sign says, "Danger! Do not touch pole!" Definitely give it a solid shove. It will cause a thunderous crashing noise and the ceiling will start to drop down. It's always fun to terrify your linemates. (From time to time this pole goes missing, so if you cannot find it, better luck next time.)

In the large, rounded well room with Mara on the ceiling, you'll see a rope that hangs down into the well. The sign reads, "CAUTION! Do Not Pull Rope! Handling Fragile Artifacts." So, of course, you should tug the rope a few times. Sorry, Indy!

Hidden Mickey, Minnie (and Eeyore!) & References to "Star Wars" and the Indiana Jones Movies

There are so many hidden details and references to characters in the Indiana Jones movies and even worlds of Disney and "Star Wars." Here are a few Frog Squad favorites we love to point out to anyone interested (and even people who are not).

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Hidden MM for Mickey Mouse

Look for the special Mara script "MM." It's placed along the queue as a tribute to Mickey Mouse! Those coded hidden Mickeys have been in front of me for many years, and I finally just figured them out. Cool!

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Hidden Eeyore

When you enter the video room with your guide Sallah telling you the safety information, you can look for the Eeyore sign when you get to the front and turn around. The Indiana Jones Adventure ride was built over the old Eeyore section of the former Disneyland parking lot. The Eeyore parking sign is way up high in the back of the room, above and past the movie projector. It's pretty much impossible to see unless you ask one of the cast members to shine a light up there and point it out. Fun Fact: John Rhys-Davies, the Welsh actor who played Sallah in the films, is pictured as Sallah in the video. But the voiceover is from American voice actor Bob Joles.

In the next room, you see a caged office. On the table, there is a 1930s "Life Magazine" with Mickey and Minnie on the cover!

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Crates

Look for the writing on the crates and outside of the wooden walls of the office that says, "Deliver to: Club Obi-Wan." Club Obi-Wan was the name of a Shanghai club in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." The actor who plays Indiana Jones is Harrison Ford, who also played Han Solo in "Star Wars." And "Star Wars" has a character Jedi Master named Obi-Wan Kenobi. It's so fun to discover these details.

Also look for, "To: Oxford University ... Brody." Marcus Brody is a museum curator and family friend of the Jones family. He attended Oxford University and is the Dean of Students at Marshall College. Across from the office is a crate that says "Ship to Marshall College."

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Little Man House

There is one more special thing just outside of the Indiana Jones queue that you don't want to miss. Did you ever hear the story of "The Little Man of Disneyland?" It's a 1955 children's Golden Book about the creation of Disneyland and the little man who lives there, Patrick Begorra. This leprechaun's house is at the base of a tree to the right of the Indiana Jones Adventure queue entrance.

What cool secrets or hidden details have you discovered in the queue? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Indiana Jones Adventure Ride

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Three doors

You made it to the ride! The ride is an open-air, off-road vehicle. Stow your belongings in the pouches or use the hooks. Do not just place backpacks or items on the floor, or you might not see them when you return. Remember to take them with you when you leave. You cannot bring large items such as boxed droids from Droid Depot with you. You can either check it (on the day of purchase with the receipt) at the nearby Pioneer Mercantile or use Rider Switch to take turns watching the droid near the disembarking area.

Warning! There are spoilers ahead. After you make your way through the caverns to board the ride, strap in and take off, you are faced with three doorways. You’ll pass through the center door to enter the Chamber of Destiny. Mara has chosen one of three gifts for you: Fountain of Eternal Youth, Chamber of Earthly Riches, or Observatory of the Future. Both Mara and the lighting and scenes you see differ based on the gifts.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - One version of MaraYou have been warned not to look into the eyes of Mara from the second you entered the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and all throughout the queue. Guess what? At least one person in your vehicle looked into the eyes. Your path or destiny now leads to the gates of doom ... sorry. But at least it's an exciting journey!

It used to appear that you would go to the left, center or right door to have the potential themes or experiences. In reality, there has always been only one real door, with four fake doors, two on either side of the center. The entire cave surrounding the doors used to move back and forth before each vehicle arrived on the scene, revealing only three doors at a time so that it appeared that you entered any one of three doors. Unfortunately, that part broke and has never been repaired. So you still enter the same center pathway and still have one of three possible starting elements.

New Enhancements to Indiana Jones Adventure

In addition to overall updated lighting and color, here are several new enhancements to look out for after the early 2023 refurb.

Mara

Mara has new lighting and enhancements, depending on which gifts are chosen. Did you know that James Earl Jones is the voice of Mara? (He's the other "Star Wars" actor featured on this ride!)

Swirling Galaxy Behind the Doors the First Time You See Indy

As you speed away from Mara, you encounter Indiana Jones trying to close double doors against a powerful source. There used to be a blue and green curtain, but now it looks way cooler with a swirling galaxy on the other side of the doors.

Snake

"Snakes! You guys are on your own!" After you cross the bridge, you'll pass several snakes. The final one once again hisses and strikes out at the vehicle.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Indy HangingNew Lighting in the Cave

You'll zoom down and enter what used to be just a dark cave. You'll see some new lighting effects.

Crumbling Chamber

Further on in that same cave, a new chamber has been revealed. The walls are crumbling and it becomes blocked. Time to move on (only to be targets of whooshing spears).

The Ball Works!

After being shot at by spears, you come to the exciting finale. Indiana Jones is swinging from a rope and he has a bad feeling about this (could that be another "Star Wars" reference or is it just a coincidence). Uh, oh! Is that a giant stone ball rolling toward us? The ball is working again! Before it was hit or miss.

Taking photos in the dark on a bumpy ride just doesn't work, but video does! To get a look at the latest refurbishment on the ride, watch Tad's video on our YouTube channel.

Tips for Riding Indiana Jones Adventure

As you might guess, this is one of the more popular rides at Disneyland. We have a few tips for riding and finding the shortest wait.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Scanning in Lightning Lane

Find the best time to ride with the shortest wait:

  • Ride in the first hour of park opening or the ride opening.
  • Ride once it reopens following a temporary closure.
  • Book a Lightning Lane with Genie+.
  • Ride during Fantasmic!, parade time or fireworks.
  • Ride at the end of the night.
  • Check the wait time in the Disneyland app.
  • Basically, if there is no line outside the building, it's a short wait.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure - Telegram for people with disabilitiesTips for riding:

  • Secure your belongings. There are hooks and large pouches. Nothing keeps a backpack sitting on the floor from falling out of the vehicle. I have learned this from personal experience. P.S. You have to wait for a ride breakdown before someone will retrieve your lost items.
  • If you use a wheelchair or mobility device that prevents you from climbing stairs, get a location return time from the kiosk near the ride. When it’s time to ride, you will receive a telegram and walk or roll through the exit. Present the telegram to a cast member, and they'll direct you to a different queue area that utilizes elevators to access the boarding area.
  • Ask for the front row if you have tadpoles, so they can see better.

Did you learn anything about Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland? I know I did, and I can't wait to discover new hidden references and new details on future visits. You may not end up leaving with earthly riches, but we can help you save some money, which will buy you Dole Whip in Adventureland. Be sure to purchase your discount Disneyland Resort tickets, hotel stays and rental cars with Undercover Tourist. In fact, if you put your rental car in the cart with your tickets or hotel, you'll unlock even deeper discounts! Now that's worth exploring!

Related: The Secret History of Disney Rides: Snow White's Scary Adventures

Stay cool!

Keep hopping, Tad!
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