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Love it or hate it, Indiana Jones is epic at Hollywood Studios – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios seems to be a show where people either love it or hate it. I find myself in the “love it” group. Yes, a lot of this is related to the nostalgia of it all, but I also think it’s still an entertaining show full of talented stunt performers, surprising moments and most importantly, in-your-face explosions.

indiana jones
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! was originally created as a “temporary” show for Disney-MGM Studios in August of 1989. Now, more than 30 years later (and under a new park name), this stunt show is still part of the regular entertainment offerings.

It’s no secret that I have a very soft spot in my heart for Disney-MGM Studios. It’s the first Disney park I remember opening in my lifetime and I was lucky enough to attend during its opening year. But so much has changed with the removal of places like Streets of America and Residential Street, plus the addition of Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I certainly enjoy a lot of the changes but would be lying if I didn’t say I wish I could still recognize more of the original park. The exception is the Echo Lake area where we can still visit Dinosaur Gertie, and yes, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

Having grown up on the east coast, Disney-MGM Studios was my first real taste of Hollywood. As a kid obsessed with the entertainment industry, it made quite an impression. The original concept for Disney-MGM Studios was about making movies. When DVD special features became common and so much of filmmaking started being made inside of a computer, the novelty of seeing these behind-the-scenes aspects wore off and became outdated. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! is one of few places where this movie-making aspect is still evident today in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Many would argue this is a good reason to replace it. I wouldn’t disagree that this idea of “shooting a movie” as part of the stunt show does currently seem a bit out of place, but I still love it.

But with Disney now owning Lucasfilm (and therefore the Indiana Jones character), it feels as though keeping Indiana Jones in the park only makes sense. After all, this was the first Indiana Jones attraction to appear in a Disney Park. I still find it strange that for years Disney had a licensed “American Idol” show in the park, and now that they own the property it’s been removed, but I digress. For years, we’ve been hearing about Disney making an “Indiana Jones 5” movie, so that would be the perfect opportunity to update the stunt spectacular.

As it stands, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! uses three different
sets throughout the performance. I personally can’t imagine any version of this stunt show without the iconic “Raiders of the Lost Ark” boulder chase scene. So what if they kept that pretty much as is and changed out the last two scenes based around the eventual “Indiana Jones 5”? We would most likely lose the movie-making aspect of the show at that point. As much as I would miss that, it would only make sense to remove it.

Early Night Live: Indiana Jones at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I have no idea how much longer this epic stunt spectacular will remain in the park. There seem to be rumors constantly swirling around the show. If you’ve ever wanted to be one of the volunteer “extras,” I would suggest getting to that arena the next time it opens and being as loud as you can to earn your spot. There’s no telling what will happen next. But if I had to guess, I’d say it either gets removed entirely or the “extras” will be cut as part of a movie-making removal.

Optimistically, if or when the show is updated, I make one request: please keep the giant Indiana Jones standee at the entrance to the arena. It would be very sad not to see that towering figure as I walk through the park. And if it is removed, please send it my way so I can display it in the backyard in a grand Stamos-esque fashion.

It is pretty remarkable to think that the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! has outlived the Studio Backlot Tour, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and even The Great Movie Ride. This epic show that many refer to as tired or outdated has survived beyond a lot of iconic attractions. But where do you stand on this show? Are you in the “love it” or “hate it” group and why? Leave a comment and let me know.

If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.


Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.

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2 comments

Robyn Murov August 29, 2020 - 8:52 am

I’m in the love it category too, and I hope the stunt show remains if they ever add the ride somewhere near it. Nothing wrong with 2 Indy features in the park 🙂
Oh, and your next topic should be what to do about Figment. Especially since Universal was able to give new life to E.T. with their holiday promo last Christmas and Disney has their own streaming platform (a Figment movie anyone?) Give our favorite purple dragon his own IP and have Disney restore his ride to its former glory (WITH DREAMFINDER!)

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Andrew September 1, 2020 - 4:20 pm

I did love it but the changes they made over the years have made me hate it. So many of the good elements were taken out. Last time I was there I was kinda disappointed. Honestly I would mind if they put something else there. Its like they subtracted the attraction instead of plussing it.

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