BACKSTORY (March 3, 1995—Present): Due to the success of “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, George Lucas joined with Disney to create a new attraction with a backdrop “set in the Lost Delta of India, circa 1935.” IJA is the 3rd collaboration between WDI and Lucasfilm (Captain EO and Star Tours). Early concepts included a walk-through adventure and a high-speed mine car adventure within a temple. To avoid a long queue, Imagineers considered using Jungle Cruise boats to shuttle guests to the loading area. According to Imagineer Eddie Sotto:
One of the biggest challenges was how you get people to the attraction and where you put the attraction; it's so big you couldn't locate it anywhere except outside of the berm of the park which presented a big issue when it came down to how you were going to put people in line so I think part of this was taking out the Pirates overflow area next door and sort of using...and remember we had the concept of the walk-through with the spikes and all that, well those kind of ideas came back and became the queue to Indiana Jones, so we ended up with that same experience, but without a guide that took you all the way back to the attraction, and it's kind of funny how that worked out, a lot of people seem to like the queue as much as they like the ride, so that was an interesting innovation in itself was how the queue was hidden.
Construction started August 1993 with 400+ Imagineers and a core team of nearly 100. It entailed rerouting Jungle Cruise, the creation of .5 mile queue area, demolishing part of the “Eeyore” parking lot, and building a 50,000 sf structure for the ride. Originally sponsored by AT&T. The “Mara-glyphics” on the attraction were decodable with decoder cards that were once given out at the attraction. Art Director Chuck Ballew was their creator. 16 troop-transport vehicles has its own onboard computer system that monitors audio & lighting, making it capable of 160,000 unique journey combinations. The original Indiana Jones animatronic figures were not allowed to resemble Harrison Ford; at the time, Disney did not have the licensing for that. Instead, they used actor Vaughn Armstrong (the Admiral Maxwell Forest character in “Star Tre: Enterprisek”) as the inspiration. Years later, Disney acquired the rights and redid the figures to more closely resemble Ford. A huge improvement!
According to The Disney Parks Blog, here is the storyline for this attraction:
Indiana Jones Adventure takes guests back to the year 1935 with famed archeologist Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, who has uncovered the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. This mysterious temple was built long ago by a lost civilization in honor of the ancient deity, Mara. Lore says that Mara has the power to look into one’s soul and grant one of three gifts: earthly riches, eternal youth or knowledge of the future. But it was soon discovered that those who look into the eyes of Mara are doomed to suffer the deity’s vengeful wrath! But that hasn’t kept away the tourists, celebrities and fortune hunters who have flocked to the temple, lured by the promise of Mara’s gifts. Fortunately for us, Dr. Jones has temporarily disabled the lethal booby traps along the path leading into the temple, allowing us to safely reach the boarding area, where his friend Sallah has commandeered a small fleet of transports to take us on a tour of the temple.
“Will it be the Fountain of Eternal Youth, the Chamber of Earthly Riches, or the Observatory of the Future?”
Your vehicle makes three choices: the Fountain of Eternal Youth appears illuminated with shimmering aqua blue light. Front-lit scrims along the walls are painted to depict true believers drinking mystic water, discarding their withered skin and emerging young and beautiful. Mara says, "You have chosen wisely. This path leads to endless youth and beauty." The Chamber of Earthly Riches is illuminated with shimmering golden light behind the scrims where images of gold and other treasures are visible, rendering the Fountain of Eternal Youth scrim paintings transparent. Mara says "You seek the treasure of Mara. Glitter and gold, it is yours." Observatory of the Future tilts upward, directing passengers’ eyes away from the dark scrims, and towards the dazzling star field. The Hall of Promise is dimly lit in purple and the ceiling above twinkles with 5,000 fiber optic stars. Mara says, "You seek the future. I will lift the curtain of time. It is your destiny."
Tunnel of Torment: The once-pristine architecture starts to decay and crumble as the power of Mara lifts the vehicle from its path and carries it through the air. Everything in the tunnel seems to move with us as our transport strains against the evil force that propels it forward.
Gates of Doom: “You had to look, didn’t you?” Dr. Jones exclaims as he tries to hold back the evil forces at the gates, breaking the curse just long enough for our transport to drop back down to the temple floor, allowing us to pass.
From Disney: But the way out isn’t so easy. Here we make our way through this massive subterranean chamber. As we enter the cavern, the 45-foot-tall decaying statue of Mara fires a beam at the vehicle, causing the ceiling to crumble and fall into the flaming gorge, sending us to escape through a side chamber.
Your vehicle passes through the catacombs of false pathways lined with skeletons. Some pop out towards the vehicles. "Bones," an official "Hidden Mickey," is a skeleton at the left with its right arm outstretched toward the track, wearing a Mouse-ears hat backwards and aviator glasses, displaying the embroidered name "Bones."
Snakes are everywhere and a large audio-animatronic cobra on the right of the vehicle strikes out at guests