Indiana Jones Adventure 20 YEARS OLD tomorrow (or today if you count the media day). TWENTY. It’s crazy to think that arguably the best Disney attraction in the world is now two decades old when it seems like just yesterday I was standing in a 5 hour line to experience it. Before I move on i’ll share my personal experiences with the opening of this ride. 1995 was my second year of having an annual pass to Disneyland. My friend Roger and I would get dropped off after school by his mom multiple times a week. Usually we would just enjoy a few dozen rides on the PeopleMover, Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, and maybe a few showings of Country Bear Jamboree. When Indiana Jones Adventure was nearing completion our park habits changed dramatically. I would beg to be taken to Disneyland every day in hopes that we would catch a soft opening of the new ride. Roger’s wonderful mother have either appreciated or feared our insanity because once homework was finished we were taken to the park a lot during January and February of 1995. Roger and I would camp out in front of Indiana Jones Adventure and wait for hours at a time. Keep in mind there were no cellphones back then and a Game Boy was too big to fit in our pockets. When we were hungry we would eat at Bangle Barbecue, this was back when $10 bucks would get you 2 skewers, a pretzel, and a drink now a single skewer is like $5). Anyway, in early February the construction walls came down and cast members were stationed in front of the ride. It was getting real. Our persistence paid off and Indiana Jones Adventure finally soft opened during one February afternoon. Unfortunately I don’t recall the exact date, Wikipedia says it soft opened March 3, 1995 but that date is 100% baloney (although I do think the media preview was that day). I even have proof but I’ll get to that later. Roger and I must have ridden Indiana Jones Adventure 20 times that day. There was no wait so we just kept going on over and over and over (this was polar opposite of the 5 hour line on opening day). Our 12 year-old minds could not comprehend how incredible the ride was. Now, 20 years later, the ride is better than ever. It got some fantastic enhancements a couple of years ago in the form of new projection effects on Mara and a top to bottom refurbishment that made the entire attraction look brand new. Now on to the ephemera!
My annual pass from 1995. This was back when they switched the AP designs every year.
These are the three designs of the famous decoder cards that were passed out to every person in line for Indiana Jones Adventure. With these cards you could unscramble the writing on the walls inside the attraction’s queue.
For the first 41 days in 1995, Disneyland gave away one of these collector cards to everyone who entered the park. Each day would have a different year with an attraction that opened during that year. on the 41st day the 1995/Indiana Jones Adventure Card was given to park guests.
Here’s a bit of an oddity. This is Disneyland’s park map for 1995, but it’s stamped with the 40th anniversary postmark. On July 17, 1995 guests could bring whatever they wanted (seriously anything) to Disneyland and pay for a stamp. After the stamp was put on the item Disney would then apply a special postmark with the date and 40th anniversary logo.
I wish I had an actual copy of this but for some reason my grandma only had a photocopy in her collection. This is the letter announcing the annual passholder preview dates for Indiana Jones Adventure. For only $12 you could ride Indiana Jones Adventure for 5 HOURS. Obviously I attended this event even though at this point I had ridden it at least 50 times. Notice my grandma highlighted “buffeteria” and “table-service location” on this flyer. Let’s just say she really enjoyed her food and probably thought far ahead of what she wanted to eat that night.
As you can see this is unfortunately another photocopy. One time I had the chance to obtain a real version but the guy wanted $15, screw that. Anyway, this is the facts sheet handed out during the media event. I want to point out a couple interesting bullet points. “60 pounds of rubble can fall inside the temple every 18 seconds.” This is referring to the infamous falling rock effect, aka the ice machine. The idea was that brown-colored ice would fall at a certain point of the ride (just as the jeep enters “the big room” for the first time). It was a very impressive effect but rumors spread that it was difficult to maintain and broke down constantly. Personally I saw this effect work less than 10 times during the soft opening period. I’ve heard that it was turned off shortly after opening. “The adventure will never be the same twice, with nearly 160,000 possible combinations of show programming.” This bullet point was brought up in nearly every article and interview when the ride opened. Maybe I’m wrong but I never noticed much difference in rides. Sure there’s a few slight things, like when you first see Indy he sometimes says “Watch out, there’s big steps ahead” and sometimes he doesn’t, but overall I think they exaggerated this one a bit.
This is from the March 4, 1995 issue of Long Beach Press Telegram. If you’re looking for an Indiana Jones Adventure tattoo I strongly suggest you get that one.
This last bit of ephemera is from the Los Angeles Times in 1995. It talks about how local theme parks are relying heavily on attractions based on movies.
Happy birthday Indiana Jones Adventure!