We recently got the news that the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” will soon be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was the first Disney attraction to feature the iconic character made famous by Harrison Ford.
It opened on August 25, 1989, just three months after the opening of Disney-MGM Studios. It’s one of the few remnants of what existed at the park back in its opening year. Although there are varying opinions as to whether or not people would like to see this show retired, I’m personally a fan of it.
With its reopening just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at this epic stunt show being featured on numerous television shows and specials with different characters and celebrities adorning the iconic hat.
One of the first times we saw The Muppets in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios) was on a TV special called “The Muppets at Walt Disney World” in May of 1990. This was almost exactly one year after the park opened, as well one year before the opening of “Muppet*Vision 3D.”
In this special, we see Kermit the Frog take on the role of Indiana Jones and Miss Piggy playing Marion. Of course, this stunt show is full of gunshots and fistfights, so Kermit speaks directly to young viewers when he says, “I don’t believe in violence.”
In this special, the Cairo scene and finale of the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” are featured. Although Indiana Jones and The Muppets may not feel like the most natural fit, this special goes to show that The Muppets can make sense in almost any situation, as long as their unique sense of humor and sensibilities stay intact.
Next up, famous boy band star turned actor, Donnie Wahlberg, filled in for Indiana Jones on the TV special “New Kids on the Block at Disney-MGM Studios: Wildest Dreams” in 1991. The premise of this special was that the New Kids on the Block were going to Disney-MGM Studios to perform a concert on the Streets of America. Along the way, each member of the band fulfills their wildest dream.
For Donnie Wahlberg, he wants to be a stuntman “living on the edge.” We first see him in my favorite scene from the stunt show, the Peruvian temple boulder chase. In order to make it through the temple successfully, he whispers to himself to “just take it step by step,” a fun little inside joke for NKOTB fans. It then transitions into the stunt show finale. Unfortunately for Donnie, he keeps seeing visions of his fellow band members taking on less than desirable roles.
TV specials weren’t the only place to find the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” on television. You could also find it in hit sitcoms. In 1993, on an episode of “Full House” titled “The House Meets the Mouse Part 2,” D.J. keeps seeing visions of her boyfriend Steve around the parks. In this case, actor Scott Weinger (a.k.a. Steve) is doing his best to safely escape from the temple. Of course, this is all a fantasy in D.J.’s mind.
A fun little fact for Disney fans is that Weinger is the voice of Aladdin in the animated film. You can even see him dressed in the Aladdin wardrobe as part of this two-part “Full House” episode.
Just a few years later, in 1996, the TGIF sitcom “Step by Step” went to Walt Disney World in a pair of episodes simply titled “We’re Going to Disney World.” There is a far-fetched storyline where one of the characters named Flash performs the role of Indy in order to stop the show from being canceled. Once again, this sitcom features the temple scene. Unfortunately, you can’t find this one as easily online, but the episodes can be streamed on HBO Max.
Overall, Disney has been sure to feature the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” on television throughout the years. It’s quite impressive that it’s lasted as long as it has.
Now that Disney owns the character Indiana Jones, there’s even more reason for them to keep this long-running stunt show around, especially since there is a fifth film in the works.
Do you have a favorite TV appearance of the stunt show? Let me know in the comments.
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. You can hear him discuss television sitcoms in the Disney Parks on the podcast’s PrimeTime at the Parks segment, as well as a full conversation about “The Muppets at Walt Disney World” on episode 729 at www.DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.