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TheRaider.net Research Attractions Crystal Skull
 
Indiana Jones Adventure:
Temple of the Crystal Skull
 

Attraction: Roller Coaster Ride
Location: DisneySea, Tokyo, Japan
Opening: September 4, 2001

Information:
The Legend
The Ride
Ride Chambers
Facts and Statistics
Photo Gallery
 

The Legend

The huge success of Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride led Walt Disney Imagineering to build a clone ride for the DisneySea park that opened its’ doors to the public in September 4, 2001 in Tokyo, Japan under a licensing agreement between The Walt Disney Company and Oriental Land Company Ltd..

click to enlarge
Production Sketch.

This new attraction was slightly re-themed and rechristened Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. This time the story takes place in a South American jungle, since the original's Asian/Indian theme was considered not too exotic for the Japanese visitors. The place is Lost River Delta, a tattered outpost of civilization on the ragged edge of the ever-encroaching Central American rainforest and jungle. Famed archaeologist Indiana Jones has discovered a long lost pyramid hidden in the dense vegetation. The ancient limestone edifice is called Temple of the Crystal Skull, in homage to the supernatural and vengeful Crystal Skull said to be the guardian of the temple's secrets. One secret Indy has determined by deciphering the temple's hieroglyphics is that this pyramid is alleged to be the location of the fabled Fountain of Youth. He has further discovered that to prevent interlopers from coming in and bathing in the rejuvenating waters, the temple is booby-trapped with untold peril at every turn. Indy has reported that the temple is littered with the skeletal remains of those who have disregarded these safeguards and has advised that no one should attempt to enter. This has done little to discourage the curious and those in search of eternal youth. Even Indy's Central American assistant, Paco, seeing a business opportunity, is disregarding Indy's warning and has established "Paco's Temple Tours," promising to take guests deep into the pyramid by way of a fleet of jungle transport vehicles.

 
 

The Ride

Contrary to its US counterpart Temple of the Crystal Skull was part of the DisneySea design from the start. Rather than hide the show’s building as they did in America the Imagineering took the exact opposite approach and they prominently display the entire building for all to see. As a result to that the first thing visitors notice is how much more prominent the temple structure is compared to the Disneyland version. 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.

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Crystal Skull temple.

The surroundings of the temple includes a 1930's excavation site with equipment, trucks, tents and houses for the people of the expedition, as well as for food service and souvenir vendors. In a nearby river is visible a sea plane bearing the identification "C-3PO" floating on the river just off of the temple.

After passing over a wooden bridge visitors reach a small entrance to the pyramid itself. Upon entering the Temple of the Crystal Skull, intrepid guests will walk through an active archaeological dig in a cavernous chamber. Traversing hastily erected scaffolding, they walk up and around the perimeter of the room passing by ancient idols, skeletal remains, and frescoes depicting the legendary Fountain of Youth, which appear to contain warnings about the presence of the supernatural Crystal Skull.

Moss and vines engulf portions of the pyramid and birds and other creatures can be heard in the dense underbrush. The music, much like the rest of attraction, is very similar to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland. As such, it features several familiar themes from John Williams's Raiders of the Lost Ark score woven together by Richard Bellis to underscore the exciting adventures of the ride.

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.

Reaching to the top of the scaffolding visitors pass beneath an ominous warning, a painting of the Crystal Skull, the attraction's namesake, warns them not to proceed any further, but, of course, nobody listen, pressing on into deep darkness.

click to enlarge
Visitors waiting in line.

From the main chamber and weave through a series of smaller caverns visitors soon enter a cylindrical anti chamber. There to the left is a large golden medallion, at ceiling level are a series of small windows, and on the right wall is a huge map. From time to time light filters through one of the windows, reflecting onto the golden medallion which in turn shoots a pinpoint of light onto the map on the far wall. This is directly out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What follows is 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 none is welcome. Leaving the catacombs there is a preparation and loading area filled with crates of artifacts, in a corner there is a desk filled with documents and schedules. An archeological dig is in progress and we can see various treasures crated and ready to be sent off for study.

Next visitors find a screening room, similar to the one seen in the American version of the attraction, looking like an old 16mm projector. A short film by Paco with the safety tips is screened in Japanese with a Mexican accent, English and Chinese subtitles are shown.

Finally guests 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. These jeeps use electric motors and pneumatics (air) to impart their motion, instead of the troublesome and messy hydraulics (oil) used at Disneyland.

click to enlarge
Paco talking to visitors.

As guests board their well-worn jungle transports, Paco is heard over the radio assuring them that if they are careful not to disturb the Crystal Skull, no harm will befall them. The vehicle takes off, lurching and rocking on the uneven road, into the dark depths of the pyramid. The vehicle enters the Chamber of Purity, a grotto-like room of pools where apparently ancients in search of the Fountain of Youth would cleanse and purify themselves before attempting to go further into the temple. But the skeletons scattered about the chamber are evidence that few made it any farther. The vehicle does not stop, but races forward.

The first difference between the Japanese and the American version 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.

 
 

Ride Chambers

The chamber of Purity is the first to visit. Mara and the warnings not too look in her eyes are gone. Instead there is a large crystal skull sitting ahead on a platform made up of a coiled snake statue. 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 visitors are not successful in their efforts to sneak past the skull. Rather the skull before them starts to glow brightly and intense rays beam from its eyes. The Jeep accelerates to avoid the peril.

Cresting an embankment, the guests come face to face with the fabled Crystal Skull. If the vehicle can move slowly and stealthily, it can go past the Crystal Skull undetected and the secrets of the temple will be within reach. But a surprise backfire from the ill-maintained vehicle breaks the reverential silence, alerting and angering the Crystal Skull and unleashing its supernatural powers.

click to enlarge
Lightning effects.

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 Indy himself makes his appearance. As in the American version he is trying to keep a huge set of doors closed. He appears to be angry with visitors and speaks entirely in Japanese as he turns them away. At this part the track layout is identical to the Disneyland counterpart so the jeeps turn left and head in towards the main chamber.

Entering the massive central chamber visitors notice a few differences from what they are used to seeing in the states. First of all the giant face of Mara has been replaced, again, by 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 and between visitors and the giant skull is a whirling vortex smoke effect that looks like a blue whirling tornado!

Jeeps 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 the jeeps depart this cavern and head across the central bridge a burst of smoke hits visitors, still there is no flame or fire. Instead there is a 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 from beneath. We gun it and cross the bridge before hurling to the left and around the back of the skull.

The ride continues with a series of stone dragon sculptures similar to those seen in the queue. In place of the oversized and fake looking snake seen in the U.S. Indy ride there is a fully animated dragon about the same size as the snake. The dragon lunges at visitors as the jeeps pitch down, going lower and curving around the back edge of the skull. There they find yet another crystal skull. A smaller one is perched to their left and still glows angrily. The rest of the chamber is filled with catacombs brimming with skeletal remains.

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

There before visitors is a long hallway and the jeeps 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 the jeeps start accelerating towards the carving. Suddenly and with a deep sound a huge smoke ring emerges from the carving's mouth. The jeeps head straight towards and then through the smoke hooking to the right before hitting the wall.

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 there are fully three dimensional figures lining the room. Visitors make their 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 wildly yelling for help (again, in Japanese). Soon the giant stone ball roars forward and jeeps roll back a bit, then the vehicle plows straight ahead towards it. Only at what then seems the very last second, they 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.

Also at the end of each ride you get a chance to buy a photo from the fast drop at the end of the ride. It is very funny to see the scared faces, even if you don't buy the photo.

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. 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 removed the pyro and the flame effects which were some of the most effective elements from the original ride. The hot red and orange color scheme of the original was more effective since it reminded the Temple of Doom mine chase, 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.

Once off the show visitors can pay a visit to the Outfitters, the Indy merchandise shop, for nice Indy wear, toys and merchandise to take the Indy feeling home.

 
 

Facts and Statistics

Attraction Time: Approx. 3 minutes
Capacity per vehicle: 12 persons
Number of Vehicles: 15
Max. Speed: 15 mph
Route Distance: Approx. 2035 feet
Height of the Temple: Approx. 82 feet
 
Sources

- Tokyo DisneySea press kit
- LaughingPlace.com, Temple of the Crystal Skull Backstory and Spoilers.
- Indiana Jones Chronicles by Sascha Krasny.

 

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