Today, we are going to take a look at one of the longest running shows in Walt Disney World history! The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in August of 1989, just a few months after the park opened. 30 years later, it is still playing to capacity crowds several times a day.
If you show up at the last minute before showtime, its likely that you will not get a seat. Disney does let in some standing room only guests who can watch from up top behind all the bleachers. The center bleachers are reserved for fastpass + these days. Luckily, its pretty easy to grab a day of 4th or 5th fp.
The show has a very classic feel to it and is really the last remaining thing from the original working film studio concept of the park. Guest participation plays a big part of it as several folks are plucked from the crowd to act as extras throughout the show.
The hosts have quite a bit of fun with them.
A child is usually picked to yell “Lights, camera, action!” to start the show. The show opens with an exciting sequence of Indy dealing with various booby traps similar to the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
As the sequence concludes with the giant boulder scene from from the film, the “director” yells cut and makes sure our Indy stunt double is okay. The plot of this show is that you are watching the the stunt doubles film their scenes, rather then us pretending we are watching a the actual characters / actors.
We learn a little bit about the process of shooting stunts on film and our introduced to our stunt doubles.
While the sets are switched out and prepped for the next action sequences, we interact a bit with our audience volunteers to pass the time. They have them do enough silly things to entertain the crowd for the few minutes required.
We’re just about ready for the next scene which is based on the Cairo scene from Raiders. We are introduced to our Marion stunt double here.
This scene is my personal favorite of the show. It’s quite long, is fast paced and action packed, and features a bunch of really impressive stunts!
Back in the original version of the show, the Nazi vehicles still featured swastikas on them. In a decision for the better, they were changed to crosses during a year 2000 refrubishment.
The scene wraps up with one of my favorite parts of Raiders. This scene was improvised for the movie due to a case of food poisoning Harrison Ford came down with. He didn’t have the energy to act out the planned fight sequence so they switched to the iconic moment of him just pulling out his gun and shooting the guy.
The scene cuts with Marion being taken off in the Nazi jeep. The next scene picks up immediately here after a short cut to set up the pyro effects required for the stunt.
Indy takes out the gunman on top of the building as the jeep speeds away.
As the truck comes flying around the corner, an explosion caused it to flip completely over (somersault style). The flames are quickly extinguished by the team and we make sure that our Marion double and the driver are okay!
Our great head of pyrotechnics informs us that “when you work with explosives… it’s dangerous… thank you.”
It’s now time for some more audience participation with our extras. Here, we are going to teach everyone how punches and kicks are thrown in movies.
Spoiler: there is always one “cast member” plant in with the extras. They are used for this funny scene in which Marion “accidentally” really beats up one of the extras while showing them how to fight. I’ve seen this so many times yet it remains funny to me.
After the cast member springs back to life with his various flips, we are ready for the big finale.
First, we are taught the difference between a stunt man, and a stunt actor. The stunt actor films both his stunts, as well as a role in the movie. A stunt double does not have their own part in a film, they are strictly supposed to be accepted as the actor for whom they are performing the stunt for. In reality, Harrison Ford actually did do a lot of his own stunts for the Indy films.
Our final scene is the one from Raiders with the jet mechanic fight.
The mechanic meets his demise, the same way as in the film, but with smoke rather than blood splatter.
Our heroes make their valiant escape just before the large explosion occurs.
Overall, we are honestly quite surprised this show has lasted this long, but we are sure glad it has. It makes up miss the old Hollywood Studios from before the park’s massive overhaul, but it’s nice to have a small piece of that left at least. There are currently rumors that the show is due for an extended refurbishment and possible refresh but we shall see. The current version still holds up remarkably well considering it’s age.