Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mid-Week Special and DHS Awareness Week: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

This is my second contribution to Matt Hochberg’s International Hollywood Studios Awareness Week. Want to see what others are saying and doing, check out his Twitter site at http://twitter.com/search?q=%23DHSAwareness.

I’m writing today about Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which serves multiple purposes for me. First, I’ve always enjoyed the work of stuntmen (stunt persons?). As much as actors bring a script to life, it’s the people performing the stunts that provide the excitement or terror which draw us back time and time again. As much as I love technology and computer graphics, nothing can take the place of a well-designed stunt. It’s why I returned to see Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular several times; and why I was thrilled when Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show arrived in 2002. But I digress.

Photo by David Bjorgen

Next, I’ve followed Harrison Ford movies for many years, and I don’t think anyone else could have play Indy as well as he did in any the films. So when I see the actors at Disney playing him, I still imagine Harrison Ford doing the moves. Although I remember Ford on TV in his earliest years, I see a lot of Indiana Jones in American Graffiti and Star Wars. I digress again.

Indiana Jones at the Studios brought life to the Back Lot, as a back lot. It helped to make the Studios real. And it was among the first true interactive experiences where guests (at least the lucky ones) got to play along with the actors. Now that’s entertainment! Finally, the attraction provided a place to rest. And that was important, especially on warmer days. We could enter early, plus the show is a half hour; and for many people this was a welcome respite.



The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular opened in August 1989. The amphitheatre is huge. So even with the longest lines it’s hard not to get in for any show with 2000 seats to fill. But you should arrive early, since a preshow occurs.

But more important, if you want a chance of being among the nine or so audience members selected for participate, get into the first few rows (and yell and jump and dance and be happy when the selection begins). Spoiler: Not all the “guests” selected are real audience members. At least one is a real cast member; and you’ll find out why during the show. And if you are not selected, the best seats in the house are further up the middle, since you get a better view of the entire stage and action.


As the Disney web site explains: “Prior to the start of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! show, a "casting director" steps onto the stage, selects enthusiastic adult volunteers from the audience and "auditions" them to appear as extras in select sequences of the show” Enthusiastic is the key word here, and yes, adults 18+ only are selected.

It is loud, so you might want to consider the impact on your youngest children. But I’ve seen babies sleep through Fantasia and this attraction, even with explosions and fire galore. Overall the production is based on the first film of the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Arc. And these are real stunt actors, and it is dangerous (don’t do this at home). In fact, some of you might recall a cast member did die from an accident during a show rehearsal in 2009.

Wikipedia summarizes the show, so skip this next paragraph if you don’t want to know:
The action starts with Indy braving dangers in a recreation of the Peruvian temple scene from the beginning of the movie. Dangerous spikes, false floors and ancient booby traps test the archaeologist's skills before he attempts to make a getaway with the golden Idol. After that the stunt show moves on to the busy and audience-participant filled streets of Cairo. Indy and Marion are watching street acrobats before the show take a turn for the worst and a massive fight scene quickly follows. The Cairo street scene concludes with Indy shooting at a jeep loaded with explosives, producing a fiery conclusion. The final scene in the stunt show recreates the action-packed part of the movie where Indy and Marion try to stop the Nazis from flying the Ark to Berlin, complete with a scaled-down version of a German flying wing aircraft. Indy fights the large German mechanic while Marion mans the aircraft's machine gun, blowing away everything in sight. Just as the whole place goes up in flames, Indy and Marion narrowly escape from the inferno.
And if you skipped the last paragraph, you really don’t want to watch this MartinS video from 2005 giving it all away.


Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular from Martins Videos on Vimeo.


Here’s something many people miss. When you get into the queue outside of the attraction, slow down, don’t run into the show. Take a look around and you’ll see a sign that says: “Do Not Pull Rope” with the “not” crossed through. So what else can you do; pull the rope. And pull it a few times to get the most of the experience. It’s right near a well, so listen carefully.

Disney World is full a hidden gems like this. Disney fans have learned to look up, look down and look all around, since you never know what you’ll experience.

There is a nice retail outlet next door, called the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost Store. (Who would have known such a thing existed at Disney; a store next to an attraction.) It has period and movie-related clothing and souvenirs, great hats, toys, posters and more that Disney and Indy movie buffs might want to own.

Want to know more? There are some great reference sources such as Matt Hochberg's StudiosCentral.Com, the ultimate reference on Hollywood Studios and all it has to offer. But AllEars.Net and an Indiana Jones affinity site, TheRaider.Net will also be good to visit.

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