Indiana Jones Construction 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

Construction Mystery Revealed – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

Last month’s column left us with a bit of a cliffhanger (at least, a cliffhanger thirty years ago). What was that very large structure rising up all the way out in the parking lot where the Eeyore section used to be?

It was definitely looking more substantial as the steel skeleton was being filled in. Perhaps a view from the Monorail would offer some clues.

While it was still possible to see daylight all the way through the building, walls were clearly being put into place. And from the higher vantage point of the Monorail, additional concrete pad could be seen. Was that some kind of track layout imbedded in the concrete? Could it be a new attraction for New Orleans Square?

As much fun as all the speculation had become, once inside the park, all was revealed in March of 1994. But it was not in New Orleans Square. It was, rather, in Adventureland! 

Construction fences had become a lot more commonplace during the Disney Decade. But the one sealing off part of the entrance to the Jungle Cruise and the Swiss Family Treehouse was somewhat unexpected. Most guests knew there just wasn’t any room for another attraction back there.

But then again, for guests who had been looking closely at displays in the Disney Gallery above New Orleans Square, there was an intriguing possibility. The inaugural exhibit at the 1987 opening, The Art of Disneyland, included artworks for attractions dating from 1955, right up to the present day. There were even some fanciful renderings and models for attractions that would never see the light of day. Or would they?


One of the more wildly imaginative pieces was a proposed attraction based on the Indiana Jones films. The piece, created by Imagineering artist Bryan Jowers, depicted a massive room in which not two, not three, but four different attractions were intertwined. Large troop transport trucks from Raiders of the Lost Ark could be seen, charging across precarious bridges and teetering along the edge of crumbling roadways. Below, strings of railcars hurtled along rickety tracks and through a fiery hellscape, clearly inspired by the dangerous mine seen in The Temple of Doom. To one side, incongruously, a Jungle Cruise launch has sailed into view, offering its guests a look at all the action. And just visible at the center, above it all, is a steam train of the Disneyland Railroad, safely carrying its passengers through all that excitement.

It was a pretty awesome concept. But it was, at the end of the day, only a concept. Or was it?

After all, Indians Jones had already made an appearance in a Disney theme park, the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida.  In 1989 the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular had been a major hit from that park’s opening day. Although not all the effects were there from the beginning. I know, because I saw it before the “giant boulder” was ready for its debut.

So one mystery was solved. But another was introduced. Just what, exactly, was the Temple of the Forbidden Eye?

Only time, and the Disney Decade, could tell. As for us, we would continue to watch that intriguing construction out in the parking lot. 


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