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The 626

The Lost Expeditions of Disneyland's Indiana Jones

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by , 04-21-2012 at 10:35 PM
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If you’re anything like me, you grew up watching the Indiana Jones films. Sure, not all of them are on par with Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the nuking the fridge may have been a terrible idea, but the film series has stood the test of time as being one of the most remarkable ever produced.

As you likely already know, Disney and Lucasfilm first began discussing developing attractions together in the 1980s. With a powerhouse such as Lucasfilm behind them, Imagineers dreamed big, and tried to come up with new and innovative attractions to entertain their guests. From this partnership, we ended up with class attractions such as Star Tours, Captain EO, and the incredible Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland.

But before raiding the Temple of the Forbidden Eye was even a thought on the drawing boards, Imagineers had another concept that would have taken Dr. Jones’ adventures to a whole new level.

Imagine if Indy moved into Adventureland, but instead of taking over the area where he currently resides, he expanded out a bit more, out into the wilds of the Jungle Cruise, and beyond.

You see, their original idea was much like the never built Western River Expedition at Walt Disney World. It wouldn’t just be a single ride, but an entire new “land” of sorts for people to immerse themselves in.
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[FONT=verdana][SIZE=3][URL="http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x356/micechat/The%20626/indianajonesandthelostexpedition1.jpg"]Click here to see this fantastic concept art full sized![/URL]
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Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition was supposed to be a gigantic ride complex situated where the Indiana Jones Adventure is now. Built to resemble a mythical temple, guests would have to travel amongst the caverns inside to find two rides. The first was an Enhanced Motion Vehicle attraction very similar to what is at Disneyland now, while the second was to be a mine cart rollercoaster, similar to the scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

To further immerse Guests into this new attraction, Disney planned on having the Disneyland Railroad and the Jungle Cruise travel through portions of the temple, giving Guests a glimpse at the adventures that awaited them inside.
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Based on the above map of what the proposed expansion would have looked like, Guests would have entered this new area by Tarzan’s Treehouse. The line would split into two, allowing people to decide which of Indy’s quests they wanted to experience.
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For Guests wanting to go on the EMV Jeep ride, they would follow the route to the motor pool. There, they would climb aboard vehicles that would take them deep inside the mythological temple to help Indiana Jones in his quest of the golden shrine.

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For those Guests wanting a little more of a thrill, they could hike up the hill to an abandoned mine shaft. There, they would get strapped into one of the ore cars and sent speeding around the edge of a volcanic crevasse in this indoor roller coaster experience.

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Like I mentioned earlier, two classic Disneyland attractions also would have been incorporated into this new show building. After being thrilled by the backside of water, people on the Jungle Cruise would have been sent right into a flooded cavern located in the heart of the temple, allowing them to catch a glimpse of a sacrificial altar. There, they would have braved many of the same booby traps that Indy already snuck past before emerging from the caves, back into the relative safety of jungle.

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While exiting, the Jungle Cruise would also pass under a new trestle bridge, used by the Disneyland Railroad. The Railroad also would have journeyed into the new show building, letting Guests sneak a peek at the ore carts speeding around the volcanic chasm, and the famous giant ball rolling sequence from the EMV Jeep ride.

I don’t know about you guys, but I think this would have been an amazing addition to Disneyland. It would have added a whole new level of immersiveness for Guests to explore, and added a giant new footprint to the park back in the 80s. So, why was it never built?

Well, the same reason lots of things don’t get done.

Money.

You see, an enormous undertaking such as this would have carried an enormous bill. To put it in relative terms, the Indiana Jones Adventure that we have now reportedly cost just under $100 million by itself. Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition would have cost well over $200 million.

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We also have to take into consideration that, at the same time, another team of Imagineers was working on developing Splash Mountain. Both projects were in direct competition with each other, trying to get the green light to build their attraction first.

(This, of course, is the reason why someone at WDI created some fake concept art combining both attractions, with Indy standing tall on top of Chickapin Hill, whip at the ready, surrounded by Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear dressed in Arab garb. And what was in Indy’s hand? Why, the golden idol shaped like Br’er Rabbit, of course! I can’t seem to find this anywhere, though, so if anyone has a copy of it, please feel free to share it below in the comments!)

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As the story goes, Splash Mountain’s team won out, and their attraction was built. The fact that it was far less cost prohibitive, and they would be able to re-use some of the old animatronics from America Sings, definitely helped their case (that along with Michael Eisner's son liking the model of the attraction he saw on a tour of WDI).

In the early 1990s, Disneyland Paris considered adding a similar Indiana Jones expansion to their Adventureland, but again, it was too costly to accomplish. Instead, the subpar looping roller coaster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril was rushed open in 1993 to increase Guest capacity.

Of course, Anaheim did eventually get part of that massive Indiana Jones experience; though, it wasn’t until March of 1995 when Mara began warning Guests not to look into his eye. While still an amazing feat of Imagineering, the Indiana Jones Adventure would have been dwarfed by the original concept design.

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What do you think? Would you have liked the Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition expansion? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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[HR][/HR][FONT=verdana][SIZE=3][B][I]by Jeff Heimbuch[/I][/B]

If you have a tip, questions, comments, or gripes, please feel free email me at [EMAIL="[email protected]"][email protected][/EMAIL] or leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

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Jeff co-hosts the weekly VidCast [URL="http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFFAFAC3F767465A9&feature=plcp"]Communicore Weekly[/URL] as well!

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Updated 04-21-2012 at 11:13 PM by The 626

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Comments

  1. Seawolf's Avatar
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    Every time I read about this concept it makes me cringe that WDI spent 300 million on RSR.
  2. indianajack's Avatar
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    Obviously, I would have loved this to come to fruition. I'm still surprised Disney has not yet built a coaster themed to the mine car chase in Temple of Doom. A no-brainer if you ask me.
  3. ahecht's Avatar
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    Seawolf, don't forget about inflation. $200 million in 1980 is equivalent to about $525 million in 2010. In addition, inflation-adjusted prices for construction materials such as steel have gone up 60% since the 1980s (thanks to greater demand from Asia). It's likely that the Lost Expedition would've cost more than twice what RSR did if built today.
  4. wallaceproject's Avatar
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    That would've been awesome, yet expensive.
  5. waltopia's Avatar
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    It's sad because DisCo. is willing to WASTE that kind of money on several stupid movies every year, with a shelf life of about 15 minutes, while they constantly cheap out on park attractions that will stand for decades collecting a day rate of nearly a $100. per person to see them. Its a depressingly long story of what 'might have been', over and again in every Disney land. At least Tokyo gets impressive results when they do spend.
  6. dougeebear's Avatar
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    I have loved this concept since I first became aware of it. Even earlier, when seeing Temple of Doom in theaters, I knew that the mine train sequence was destined to become a theme park attraction.

    But I suspect operational issues also became apparent. Apart from the defunct PeopleMover and the defunct Skyway, I can't think of any attraction that allows you to peek inside another. What would happen if Indy went 101? Would they have to reroute the Jungle Cruise to prevent people seeing into Indy with the work lights on? Or would a dramatic black plastic sheet be hung like they've been doing at WDW's and Paris' Big Thunder?
  7. biggsworth's Avatar
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    Would have been awesome. They could still do it of course with some modifications but we all know that won't happen!
  8. indianajack's Avatar
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    One problem with the Jungle Cruise aspect is that attraction is played for laughs and Indy isn't. I'm not sure how they could reconcile the two. I would not be adverse to changing the tenor of Jungle Cruise into a "serious" narrative, particularly after dark when it has a very different feel, and the laughs seem out of place.
  9. wec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougeebear
    I have loved this concept since I first became aware of it. Even earlier, when seeing Temple of Doom in theaters, I knew that the mine train sequence was destined to become a theme park attraction.

    But I suspect operational issues also became apparent. Apart from the defunct PeopleMover and the defunct Skyway, I can't think of any attraction that allows you to peek inside another. What would happen if Indy went 101? Would they have to reroute the Jungle Cruise to prevent people seeing into Indy with the work lights on? Or would a dramatic black plastic sheet be hung like they've been doing at WDW's and Paris' Big Thunder?
    Don't forget that the Disneyland Rail Road peeks inside Splash Mountain.
  10. bassmonkey1962's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, I could have done without California Adventure ($$$-wise), esp. considering how awesome this entire Indy attraction would have been.
  11. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Steven Spielberg actually got the idea of the mine car chase scene from riding on Disneyland's new Big Thunder of 1979. He was not allowed to give film credit to the attraction back then. Other mining elements of Big Thunder's were also used in the series of Indy films. When he was asked about it, he said,"I figured they had done all the research and did it right!" In return Disney has used his Indy films to create 5 attractions with the Indy theme in 4 theme parks. Disneyland's in 1994/95 was $150,000,000.00 including the original Indy truck, that Steven Spielberg thought was destroyed. Love Bryan Jowers renderings for the mega multi concept Indy Ride that is yet to be. I bet it would cost at least 1 billion today to build with rockwork and temple?
    Updated 04-22-2012 at 02:48 PM by DisWedWay
  12. chesirecat's Avatar
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    I would have liked it if they added on a mine train themed roller coaster, BUT if all you see is the same inside show area, then it sort of like the same ride. If they added an outside mine car segment, that was unique to this ride, making it at least half different than what we have today, then it would have been worth it, IMHO.

    I'm kind of glad that they didn't reroute Jungle Cruise to go through the ride as I love this ride and adding a Jones section with flames and such would change the Jungle Cruise, as some have mentioned. It is nice to have the Jungle Cruise exist in its own world, albeit with occassional appearances from the "albino monkeys" that wait in line at Indy. Jungle Cruise is more sedate, humorous.

    The train thing . . . while there were trains in Indy's day, they didn't look like DL's train, and I think it might have detracted slightly from the experience. When riding Splash you rarely see the train about the park when its inside the mountain, which I think is a good thing.
  13. DonaldMissingPants's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wec
    Don't forget that the Disneyland Rail Road peeks inside Splash Mountain.
    when they're working on Splash, there's a huge metal sheet that comes down and blocks the view from the Disneyland railroad
  14. Soul_Meets_Body's Avatar
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    it honestly makes me wonder. what if they are waiting for indy to get so bad that they have to do a massive overhaul and then finally do something like this?
  15. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soul_Meets_Body
    it honestly makes me wonder. what if they are waiting for indy to get so bad that they have to do a massive overhaul and then finally do something like this?
    If they did, either Micechat or screamscape would be the first ones to break the news. I think that might cost a lot of money if they thought of doing it now, as construction would affect almost of Adventureland, minus the Tiki Room/MP Bakery Complex and half of the Adventureland Shops. If they were to do it, I think they would do right after what we think they're planning to do (either another TL Re-Vamp or an addition/ or new mini-land in that border area of Frontierland/Fantasyland/Mickey's Toontown) right after DCA is relaunched.


    Timekeeper
  16. DoubleD's Avatar
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    I have always felt that the mine car chase in Temple of Doom was a pre-built roller coaster waiting to happen. Personally, I'd love to see such an attraction at Hollywood Studios, where it could replace the very long-in-the-tooth Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Hollywood studios itself seems to be the ignored theme park and building something like this would be an incredible boost to attendance. There really hasnt been a great new E-Ticket thrill ride in Orlando since Expedition Everest opened years ago.
  17. DoubleD's Avatar
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    I have always felt that the mine car chase in Temple of Doom was a pre-built roller coaster waiting to happen. Personally, I'd love to see such an attraction at Hollywood Studios, where it could replace the very long-in-the-tooth Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Hollywood studios itself seems to be the ignored theme park and building something like this would be an incredible boost to attendance. There really hasnt been a great new E-Ticket thrill ride in Orlando since Expedition Everest opened years ago.
  18. ImagiNERDing's Avatar
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    Great article, Jeff!

    I still think that this could have been the greatest attraction ever, since WRE never saw the light.

    You know, I am sensing a pattern of someone ELSE stealing ideas and getting attractions built. Someone that we might call the Voldemort of WED!
  19. Jj94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougeebear
    I have loved this concept since I first became aware of it. Even earlier, when seeing Temple of Doom in theaters, I knew that the mine train sequence was destined to become a theme park attraction.

    But I suspect operational issues also became apparent. Apart from the defunct PeopleMover and the defunct Skyway, I can't think of any attraction that allows you to peek inside another. What would happen if Indy went 101? Would they have to reroute the Jungle Cruise to prevent people seeing into Indy with the work lights on? Or would a dramatic black plastic sheet be hung like they've been doing at WDW's and Paris' Big Thunder?
    I agree that it might be a problem... at least for Space Mountain they could close the windows from the inside during a 101 but it might be a little more difficult in this situation... I'm sure if they could think of something creative IF they had the time and budget to do so... not likely though...
  20. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    As somebody who has always found Indy to be highly overrated I'm greatly disappointed this was never built. It looks like it would have been AMAZING!!!