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Indiana Jones - Attractions
 
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Temple du Peril
 

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Temple of Forbidden Eye
 

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Temple of the Crystal Skull
 

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  Indiana Jones - Attractions

Tokyo DisneySea - Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull


Introduction


The sun disappears behind the pyramid... The pyramid - the most obvious aspect of Tokyo DisneySea's mind-blowing Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull.

Search for the Fountain of Youth in a harrowing life-or-death journey to escape the supernatural and vengeful Crystal Skull.


The Attraction


When Disneyland debuted Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye in 1995 it was a smash success from day one. Fully immersive and full of technological breakthroughs the Indy Adventure became a major draw for the park, often seeing lines snaking all the way to, and even past the central hub. This attraction manages to pull together everything Disney does best; great story telling and an exciting and unique presentation made for a real winner of an attraction. Many consider Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye to in fact be Disney's, if not the world's greatest theme park attraction to date.

With such a solid track record and a world known license it was a given that some version of this attraction was to be built in Tokyo as part of the new Tokyo DisneySea park. As the main focus of the Lost River Delta area of DisneySea the Indy adventure has been slightly rethemed and rechristened Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.

Set in a thick South American jungle (as the original's Asian/Indian theme was not considered as exotic, nor far away enough for Japanese visitors) the first thing you will notice is how much more prominent the temple structure is as compared to the Disneyland version.

In the American park space is tight. The Adventureland location simply could not provide enough land to build any sort of show building. The ingenious solution was to nestle a small temple holding the entrance next to the Jungle Cruise and then have a long and incredibly intricate queue lead would be riders outside of the park's berm to the ride itself. The net result is that the queue creates an enormous sense of anticipation.



More than any attraction before it (and perhaps since) Temple of the Forbidden Eye uses the queue as part of the attraction itself. You are not simply standing in line, you are gaining clues as to what awaits you. You are flirting with disaster and avoiding a myriad of booby traps. It adds tremendously to the enjoyment of the ride once you finally make it on board.

On the other hand, space was not an issue in Tokyo. The Indy attraction was part of the DisneySea design from the get go. It wasn't as important to create the same sense of seclusion which the attraction benefits from at Disneyland. Rather than hide the show building as they did in America the Imagineers took the exact opposite approach, they prominently display the entire building for all to see. Themed as an ancient Aztec pyramid the building looms over the entire land. It creates a wonderful beacon drawing people to it's location at the very back end of the park.

Fortunately the Imagineers did not forget the impact that the queue could have on this attraction. Therefore they have designed a wholly unique queue experience which is almost as successful in setting the attractions tone as it's Anaheim Cousin's.


The Queue



As we approach details are everywhere, torches flicker with flame, huge stone blocks have tumbled from the temples corner and the surrounding jungle is slowly reclaiming the structure. Moss and vines engulf portions of the pyramid and birds and other creatures can be heard in the dense underbrush. An archeological dig is in progress and we can see various treasures crated and ready to be sent off for study.

A sea plane (bearing the identification "C-3PO") is tethered in the river just off of the temple. Tents are pitched in the area and house the support crew for the dig (as well as some food service and souvenir vendors).After passing over a wooden bridge we find a small entrance to the pyramid itself. It's dark inside but we venture forth nonetheless. This temple is fabled to house the fountain of youth deep within, a treasure worth seeking far more than gold or diamonds. The first room is small, and made entirely of stone blocks. A stone relief of a face welcomes us in, lit by a flickering light from below. After a short distance we turn the corner and suddenly find ourselves in a massive chamber with ceilings soaring to the very top of the pyramid. Here we encounter catwalks crisscrossing along the sides of the pyramid, hastily assembled working scaffolding put up by the archeologists. The walls are painted with incredibly elaborate murals depicting the harrowing adventures awaiting those courageous enough to continue. On an even more somber note skeletal remains of those who came before us riddle the temples floor.

We continue over the remains on bridges that carry us over standing water and crumbling rock. Moss hangs from the roof 40 feet or so above our heads as sunlight filters through cracks and crevices to light our way. Meticulously detailed carvings loom above us as we work our way up the scaffolding to the next higher level.

We are skirting the edges of this cathedral like room and the vantage point gives us unobstructed views of all of the detail poured into this queue. From time to time the electrical light strung around the site flicker as the power struggles to stay on. This is a truly impressive piece of work, the overall effect is simply stunning

As we make it to the top of the scaffolding we pass beneath an ominous warning, a painting of the Crystal Skull, the attraction's namesake, warns us not to proceed any further, but (of course) we don't listen, pressing on into deep darkness.

We leave the main chamber and weave through a series of smaller caverns. Soon we enter a cylindrical anti chamber. Here to the left is a large golden medallion, on the right, at ceiling level are a series of small windows, on the right wall is a huge map.

From time to time light filters through one of the windows, reflects onto the golden medallion which in turn shoots a pinpoint of light onto the map on the far wall. This is directly out of the first Indy movie and is now happening above our heads. Quite cool. We continue on.

Next we pass through a pitch black section of catacombs. Cutouts on the rock walls of eyes and faces are back lit by glowing red light. This is the only light in the area and serves as a creepy reminder that we are not welcome here. We make our way past a preparation and loading area filled with crates of artifacts and pass by a pursers desk filled with documents and schedules.

Then we reach a small room with a movie playing in black and white on a screen. Similar to the movie room seen in the American version of this attraction, here it looks like an old 16mm projector is showing us our safety film. Because we are in Central America we have a goofy Latin American guide (Paco) giving us the ride's safety spiel. He speaks Japanese with a Mexican accent, English and Chinese subtitles are shown.



The Ride



Finally we cross over the tracks and down a steep set of stairs to emerge in the load area. This feels very much like the original Disneyland Indy ride. The jeeps pull up and look identical to the American versions. We strap ourselves in, and with the exception of the foreign language you feel as if you are back at home in Anaheim. Here we go!

The jeeps roar out of the load area, hang a right and the first difference you notice between the Japanese and American versions is that there is only one doorway. The designers have opted to drop the idea of choosing one of three paths and rather have all the jeeps plow straight ahead, through dimensionally carved doors.

We rumble ahead into the chamber of Purity. Here grottos and pools surround us. Mara and the warnings not too look in her eyes are gone. Instead there is a large crystal skull sitting ahead of us on a platform made up of a coiled snake statue. This chamber is very well themed. Nothing in this entire attraction is flat or simply painted on, rather it is all constructed out of three dimensional sets and textures. Of course we are not successful in our efforts to sneak past the skull. Rather the skull before us starts to glow brightly and intense rays beam from its eyes. The Jeep accelerates to avoid the peril and we hurl to the left.

Through the cavern you continue as very nice electrical and lightning effects fill the area all around. These bolts of electricity cling to the cavern walls in shades of blues. Up ahead we see Indy himself. As in the American version he is trying to keep a huge set of doors closed. He appears to be angry with us and speaks entirely in Japanese as he turns us away. The track layout here is identical to the Disneyland counterpart so we now turn left and head in towards the main chamber.

The familiar John Williams movie score swells as we venture ahead fearlessly. Entering the massive central chamber we notice a few differences from what we are used to seeing in the states. First of all the giant face of Mara has been replaced buy a large stone skull. The color scheme of the lighting and the effects have moved from the hot red and oranges of the original attraction to cool hues of blue and green, more fitting for the fountain of youth theme. Finally, directly in front of us and between us and the giant skull is a whirling vortex smoke effect. It looks like a blue whirling tornado!

We veer to the left and rumble through the chamber filled with skeletons and skulls. Then on to the bug chamber. As we are used to, our headlights flicker on and illuminate the walls full of creepy crawling bugs. However the effect here is much better than back home. I am not sure what they have done differently but these bugs look three dimensional and much more convincing. While they still are a projected effect they do not look artificial or flat like they sometimes do on the original ride.

As we depart this cavern and head across the central bridge a burst of smoke hits us, this is a nice extra effect. The general feel of this area is just like we are used to but again, there is no flame or fire. Instead we have the spinning vortex , now to our right, and to the left we have the massive skull. Beams of blue and green light shoot from the skull's eyes, the music is in full swing and the bridge rocks and sways beneath us. We gun it and cross the bridge before hurling to the left and around the back of the skull.

Here we pass a series of stone dragon sculptures similar to those we saw in the queue. In place of the oversized and fake looking snake seen in the U.S. Indy ride we find a fully animated dragon. He is about the same size as the snake and not much more convincing. Still, it is nice that they addressed and changed this effect.

The dragon lunges at us and we pitch down, going lower and curving around the back edge of the skull. Here we find yet another crystal skull. A smaller one is perched to our left and still glows angrily. The rest of the chamber is filled with catacombs brimming with skeletal remains. I prefer the American section here as the pyro effects really add something that is missing from this attraction.

Through some more mostly dark chambers and we now creep up onto one of the nicest new additions to the adventure. (In Anaheim this would be the rat room.)

There before us is a long hallway and we come to a complete stop. At the far end is a large stone face carved into the wall. His mouth is agape. The engine rumbles back to life and we start accelerating towards the carving. Suddenly and with a deep sound (as if a bass drum was punched) a huge smoke ring emerges from the carving's mouth. We head straight towards and then through the smoke hooking to the right before hitting the wall.

The smoke ring is an effect which Disney has been trying to perfect for years and they finally have done so here in Japan. Similar effects can be seen to a lesser degree on Dinosaur (formerly Countdown to Extinction) at Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Pooh ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Neither of those effects can compare to the one pulled off here however.

Next up is the dart run. The jeep comes to another full stop as we contemplate crossing another long hallway. Unlike the simply painted flat walls at Disneyland, in Tokyo we have fully three dimensional figures lining the room. We make our run as jets of air blast us, the sound of darts whirling over our heads.

The climax to the ride is identical to the U.S. version. We see Indy hanging above us wildly yelling for help (again, in Japanese). Soon the giant stone ball roars forward and we roll back a bit, then our vehicle plows straight ahead towards it. Only at what then seems the very last second, we drop down under the giant ball to safety. Indy is then seen one last time, safe and sound, and he bids us goodbye as we enter the unload station.

The attraction is almost a virtual copy of the original Disneyland version. The setting and queue are wholly unique to this park but the actual ride is more or less the same. But in DisneySea it has a more polished feel to it and this is both a good and bad thing. On one hand it is VERY nice to see all the three dimensional sets. I have never understood the logic of spending millions and millions of dollars on an E-Ticket attraction and then allowing some cheap looking painted flats to be a major part of it. The upgraded bugs effect as well as the new smoke ring trick are great. The tornado vortex is also a great new addition.

However the improvements come at a cost. They have removed the pyro and these flame effects were some of the most effective elements from the original ride. I also prefer the hot red and orange color scheme of the original (more like the second "Temple of Doom" movie), as somehow the cool colors seem too calming and not as alarming as the original pallet. Finally the actual jeep's movements, while still wild and extreme, seem somehow more in control and less random than the American counterpart. This is a VERY subtle thing but having enjoyed both attractions many times I can feel a difference.



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Today 22. August 2017
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