At a time when the Walt Disney Company was not performing as well as it should be. Along comes Michael Eisner, George Lucas, and Tony Baxter to help save the day. Grab your leather jacket and whip and get ready to swing into the history of one of the most immersive ride experiences at any Disney park. And remember, Never look into the eyes of Mara.
After the untimely death of Walt Disney in 1966, Disney started a downhill spiral into the 70s and 80s. The movies were not as successful as the ones that Walt oversaw. The Disney parks were making up 70 percent of the profits for the company. In 1984 when Michael Eisner took the helm after leaving Paramount Pictures, he vowed to pump life in the studios and add more to the parks as well. The second half of the 80s saw a comeback in the box office for Disney with Who framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 and The Little Mermaid in 1989. This was the beginning of the renaissance era for Walt Disney Studios.
Eisner’s plan was also to make the parks even better than they were as there was no major upgrades in the downtime of the company. Eisner turned to his friend and creator of Star Wars Geroge Lucas. They had already had a relationship from Paramount when Eisner greenlighted Indiana Jones series. Eisner and Lucas created The Indiana Jones stunt show at MGM Studios in Florida and Star Tours and Captain EO starring Michael Jackson in Disneyland. With the success of these attractions, it was decided that it was time to bring Indiana Jones to the west coast as well.
The original concept was known as Indiana Jones and the lost expedition. The original was completely overhaul Adventureland with a huge immersive attraction that would include the Disneyland Railroad and the Jungle Cruise to be inside of the ride as well as a mine car ride and a different version of the attraction that is there now. The lost expedition idea quickly dropped due to budget cuts across the whole company after the disastrous opening of Disneyland Paris. While Adventureland would no longer be entirely dedicated to Indiana Jones, It was still decided that the dark ride portion would still become part of the land.
Construction began in August 1993 and was led by Disney Lead Imagineer Tony Baxter and a team of over 400 Imagineers for the massive attraction. In order to make room for the attraction had to once again go outside of the park proper to be able to make it fit. With Adventureland being the smallest land in the park there was no way that they could fit the 57000 square foot show building in the land itself. So the Eeyore parking lot was removed to be able to make way for the attraction. Because of how far the building was from the rest of the park a half-mile queue was designed to take you along the edge of the Jungle Cruise and under the Railroad to the show building itself.
The Imagineer team wanted a new and never used before ride system. They came up with the Enhanced Motor Vehicle or EMV for short. It’s a modified motion simulator that is mounted on a wheeled chassis. As the EMV goes through the ride it simulates all kinds of sharp turns while speeding up and slowing down. Each EMV travels at a max speed of 14 mph. The effects of the motion simulator create the illusion that you are going way faster than you actually are. Each of the 17 vehicles has 3 hydraulic lifts that are all programmed to simulate different ride experiences on each vehicle so no ride will ever be the same, an industry first.
On March 4th, 1995 after almost two years of construction, The Indiana Jones Adventure opened to huge fanfare. Onhand was Michael Eisener, George Lucas and more celebrities than can be named. Immediately it became one of the most popular attractions in the park and still is today.
Take a look below for a full-ride through, Indiana Jones and the forbidden eye.