The mythos of Indiana Jones and his archaeological adventures needs no introduction.  Nearly everyone knows of the three (four if you count Crystal Skull) adventure films in which Indiana Jones scours the world in search of fortune and glory.  That is reason enough for you to go and check out the Indiana Jones exhibit at the Discovery Science Center (just down the road from Disneyland) in its final month. It closes on April 21st.

The exhibit is a $10.00 additional charge for adults and $8.00 for kids. Kids can get in free, however, with a paying accompanying adult with this voucher from the Science Center website.

The adventure begins when you check in. Each guest is handed their own multimedia guide. Entering your name into your device, you embark on your journey.

This allows you to access information on particular pieces in the exhibit and to move at your own speed. But they have also laced a brilliant interactive quest game throughout in which you are asked to locate missing pieces to an artifact of your choice.

Entering the main hall, the format of the exhibit is clear. It is divided into four sections, one for each film. Beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark, guests are introduced to the iconic fertility idol that Indy steals at the beginning of that movie.

This fabricated relic is compared to real archeological finds. A fascinating anecdote; This prop was actually based on a greenstone carving in the Pre-Columbian collection at Dumbarton Oaks. The artifact is presumed to depict the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl. It was later found, by the Smithsonian, to have been a fake from the late 1800’s. So the fake was based on a fake essentially. COOL!

Movie props are on full display here. Some of which a movie geek or fan could literally spend hours, like we did, drooling over.

Concept art from the films recalls legendary scenes.
Here is a diagram from the large boulder scene.
More concept art from the first film

Yes they have the Ark!
But you have to keep your eyes closed while looking at it or else your face will melt.

Art from the scene in Marion’s Tavern.

Then we have actual discoveries from the locations depicted in the films…

This actual cuneiform tablet features the earliest known map.

The adults can slow down and savor the details, while the kids can go on their own scavenger hunt. It’s really well done.

Part of the hunt asks guests to locate treasures using the power of deduction.

From the other films we get to see pieces from…

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Dooms famous lava pit.
The models from the mine cart scene.

Fun Disneyland connection: when Temple of Doom was in post production, the sound designers needed to find just the right noise for the mine carts.  They were allowed to ride the roller coasters at Disneyland all night, recording the sound.  They took those sounds and played with them to give the scene that fun, yet hair-raising, feel.

Good Ol’ Mola Ram. (cover your heart)
The actual head dress from the film.
The clothes from the beginning of Temple of doom in the night club.

The three glowing stones.

Even the section about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was fascinating. Perhaps even more so than the film itself (am I being too evil?).

Sure, there have been no aliens found, yet, in Peru.  But, there is a fascinating study of the Nazca lines in Peru featured here that should not be missed, along with more artifacts from the area.

At the end of the exhibit you can see how well you did along your interactive quest as compered to other visitors. what a neat way to make a museum exhibit fun for all ages.

And it wouldn’t be a Discovery Science Center exhibit without giving the kids a chance to let loose and have some fun. The exit lands visitors in a large interactive play area themes to the Indiana Jones films.

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archeology is a clever exhibition that mixes the fun and romance of the blockbuster Hollywood franchise with real life artifacts from the locations depicted in the film for an entertaining learning experience. We absolutely recommend a visit before it rides off into the sunset on April 21st.

  • Zeathos51

    I was wondering if this was worth the price. I really liked the Star Wars exhibit. Star Trek the Tour was also a short lived prop show that began and ended at the Queen Mary Dome. If there are plenty of props and artwork, it sounds like it’s worth it. I must of spent at least 2 hours at the Star Wars. I’m not that thrilled with the Science Center since the first visit was enough so the price would fully go toward the Jones exhibit. Anyways, thanks for the report, it’s great to see what else is going on outside of Disneyland.

    • jcruise86

      Yes, Zeathos, it is worthwhile. We went on Sunday before Disneyland, and although I would have liked my kid to have studied everything in the exhibit (like the description of the Rosetta Stone), it was a fine intro to archeology for a little kid.

      I recommend becoming a member since there is currently a great deal for members–IF–that is–membership will also get you into SF’s amazing Exploratorium.

      And the Taco Bell at this “Taco Bell Discovery Science Center” is an above-average Taco Bell. (And that’s sayin’ something!)

      THANKS, Fishbulb/Norm, for making Southern California even better for many people!

      • jcruise86

        P.S. Norm is correct that a kid can have a good time on the scavenger hunt (assisted by helpful staff at times), while adults can see the many excellent props, film clips and artifacts about the movies and archeology. Make sure to see every room and nook of this exhibit.

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Norman

    Shame I am not going to America at the meoment (now had that been in August, I would have made a trip). It looks realy good, and shows the background on our favourite Archeologist. it is nice that they have made it feel like an exhibit of relics, but then combine the movies. That is a neat touch, and the facts that can be discovered will make it a must see for any theme park or Indiana Jones Movie fanatic. It will be their dream!

    Thanks Again Norman (no were not evil about the 4th film. For me it did not live up to the previous films)


  • XxBellaThornxX

    Such a cool exhibit! I wish I lived in So Cal (or had a trip coming up soon) to experience it. Maybe some day it will end up in AZ!

    And yes, 4th movie was just so so, no evil there!

  • rstar

    I’ve got my tickets and plan to go soon. Can’t wait! Thank you so much, Norm, for giving me an idea of what to expect. I like to plan things out to get the most of trips like this.

  • judearmstrong

    well, Indy was right, those do belong in a museum

  • BogLurch

    I went through this a few months ago, and it’s pretty amazing. Even on a weekend day crawling with kids, it was still a pretty fun time. The non-movie archaeology info is well presented – there’s a large volume that’s related to the film through subject alone (history of archaeology, etc.) and was probably my personal favorite part of the exhibit.

    Lot of good movie stuff as well. And the Crystal Skull-specific exhibit’s right at the end, which means it’s easier to remember the good stuff while breezing right on through…

  • Illusion0fLife

    “Nearly everyone knows of the three (four if you count Crystal Skull) adventure films…”

    I only acknowledge that there are two films in the Indiana Jones series (three if I’m feeling generous). 😉

    The exhibit looks really great, though, it’s a shame I’m not in the area because I’ve always been deeply in love with the Indiana Jones films and I would really love to see this. Thanks for the pictures and the write-up!

  • daveyjones

    i saw the show around the holidays and it was completely worth it. spent about three hours there pouring over every prop and concept art rendering and costume. the little digital player they provided proved worthless—you had to listen to someone gab at you the whole time and it prevented you from pacing your visit on your own. after hearing harrison’s introduction i immediately turned it off and proceeded to read my way through the show.

    bonus—non-flash photography of EVERYTHING completely permitted! i scored many very high quality pics of the grail diary, the ark, etc etc.

    the merch they offered was for the most part unique—the olive green legionary cap was my take home prize—but i was dismayed that no catalog was produced for this travelling exhibit. they could have made a fortune by producing a nice coffee table piece with photographs of everything in the show. sort of a supplement to the long out-of-print ‘lucasfilm archives’ book from the early 90s.

    all and all, well worth the time and money.

  • Thanks for the review Norm. I’m jealous that I didn’t get to see this exhibit. But I hope to stop by the Discovery Science Center before this show closes.

    So brilliant how they have structured it to appeal to both kids and adults.

    Thanks for the melting face video clip. That is one of my most distinct memories of the film.

  • DizneeProfitEar

    There’s a great video of the Indy exhibit at the Discovery Science Center which can be seen on Beyond the Marquee at this link:

    beyondthemarquee dot com/15661

    (Please disregard or delete multiple posting. Couldn’t get Comment to submit)

  • Timekeeper

    Went the Star Wars exhibit at the Discovery Science Center when it was there before, this exhibit looks fun too.


  • mysteriouspnai

    This was definitely a fun exhibit. DBF and I wanted to explore rest of the museum, but didn’t have enough time because we were enjoying ourselves too much in this exhibit :D. We spent about 3.5 hours there b/c DBF is such a huge Indy fan. Because we arrived at 12, it only left us an hour and a half for the rest of the museum. We plan on going back since we didn’t finish.