The Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril attraction in Adventureland is not only an original adventure in the heart of the impressive remnants of an Indian temple – it is also filled with references to the famous archaeologist’s saga.
To mark the release of the film Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, let’s take a closer look at this one-of-a-kind attraction and unearth some of its many secrets…
GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE STORY
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril’’s story is rooted in legend. All through his career, Indiana Jones has travelled the globe in search of history’s greatest treasures on behalf of museums and universities. In 1936, he set out for the Ark of Covenant, and then the Holy Grail in 1938. A few years later, we find him in India, a place he visited (albeit unintentionally) back in 1935 to retrieve a sacred stone from Sankara. But this time, he is on official business. Backed by his university, he is looking for an ancient Lost City hidden in the heart of the jungle, with a strange saying serving as his only clue to its whereabouts: “the treasures of the world await those who dare to climb very high.” He starts to dig at the top of a hill and discovers the first signs of a ruined thousand-year-old temple. Given the size of the edifice, a proper railway is built to make it easier to excavate and uncover a genuine architectural marvel worthy of some of eternal India’s greatest places of worship, such as Vidyashankar temple in the south-west of the country.
After several months of intensive digging, the site is finally opened to the public, who can appreciate its beauty but also its many mysteries on board one of the wagons used for the excavation. The journey is quite the ride, to say the least.
BRAVE BUT NOT FEARLESS!
While the story of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is original, the attraction makes several nods to the saga’s various movies, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first film made in 1981.
The Willys Jeep and the truck whose bonnet is adorned with impressive horns are in fact World War II vehicles customised by the Imagineers to look like the cars used during filming, especially the truck that carries the Ark of the Covenant.
But most importantly, we learn in the film that Indiana Jones, as intrepid as he is, still has an Achilles heel: he has a phobia of snakes. Given that a large amount of reptiles were used for the scenes in the Well of Souls, there was plenty to be frightened of! It was this character trait that gave the Imagineers the idea to dedicate the temple to the god Shiva, who is symbolised by his cobra called Naga who is often depicted slung around his neck in Hindu iconography. There are two monumental sculptures on either side of the staircase which forms the temple’s entrance, but also a smaller version in front of one of the encampment’s tents.
THE TRAIN THROUGH THE MINES
The wagon journey in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is reminiscent of the iconic chase that takes place in the mine during Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). Filming this epic set piece took all of Steven Spielberg and his team’s expertise, combining both work with models and shots of the actors. The result is dazzling and earned the film an Oscar® for best visual effects. For the Disneyland Paris attraction, the Imagineers wanted to go even further, offering a 560-metre track through the temple’s ruins which even has a 360° inversion – a first for a Disney Park at the time. And to spice up the experience even more, between 2000 and 2004, the attraction was transformed into Indiana JonesTMand the Temple of Peril… Backwards! with the wagons installed so visitors faced the entrance. The experience was discombobulating but thrilling!
GETTING BACK TO THE START
Our favourite archaeologist’s third adventure, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), reveals the origins of Indy’s whip and famous hat. They came from his encounter with a certain Fedora (which also happens to be the name of this style of hat…), the leader of a band of looters who have come to steal the Cross of Coronado. The year is 1912. A teenage Indy is camping with his Scout troupe. After stealing the relic from the bandits, he tries to get away from them and lands on the roof of a train carrying circus animals. It is at this very moment that he falls into a carriage holding a lion, which he manages to keep at bay using a whip conveniently hanging from the wall beside him. As for the hat, it is given to him by the thief himself at the end of the chase, as a mark of admiration for Indy’s bravery (even though he didn’t manage to keep the cross out of the looters’ hands). If you look closely, you can find these items not far from the attraction’s entrance on some scaffolding.
Another evocative detail is one of the crates at the dock, which is ready to be shipped to a certain Marcus Brody at Barnett College, where Indiana Jones is teaching at the beginning of the film.
As for motto that holds the clue to the attraction, it is reminiscent of the enigmatic words found by Professor Henry Walton Jones Senior, Indiana’s father, during his quest for the Holy Grail, emphasising the humility of the penitent and the confidence of the believer.
As the excavation of the Temple of Peril dates back to the 1940s, this adventure takes place well before The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (set in 1957) and The Dial of Destiny – the action taking place in 1969 in New York, at a time of major social and cultural change (a new era after the successful moon landing). which is set in the midst of a space race in 1969). However, the quest for this last artefact began long before, as evidenced by a notebook present in the camp on which we will recognize the famous Archimedes dial.
From Raiders of the Lost Ark to this final opus, the attraction takes us on an incredible adventure through the world of Indiana Jones thanks to the combined talents of the films’ producer George Lucas and the Imagineers. Hats off to the artists!