Is Disneyland's Rise of the Resistance the Next Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye?
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
For almost sixty-five years, The Happiest Place on Earth has had no trouble living up to its auspicious nickname. Leave it to Walt Disney to declare his theme park the epicenter of imagination and happiness in the world. But that’s the thing about visionaries. They not only believe in their vision; they make it happen. They are dreamers and doers.
Disneyland is truly a special place, and there aren’t many cultural icons that represent and encourage hope, happiness, and family quite like the Magic Kingdom.
Earlier this week, Shanghai Disneyland became the first of the Disney theme parks to reopen after a near three-month hiatus, and hopefully (hopefully) it’s only a matter of time before the rest are able to do the same.
So as we all look forward to the eventual reopening of Disneyland and other places of much-needed entertainment, I thought it appropriate to write about a subject I’ve been wanting to cover for a few months now.
As a hardcore Star Wars fan and former Disneyland Cast Member, you can imagine my excitement when it was first announced that Walt Disney Imagineering would be creating a massive new land expansion for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World that would allow gets to step into the world of Star Wars like never before.
Well, that long-awaited Star Wars expansion finally opened late last year, and if you haven’t already read my first story review of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’s historic premier, click on the link here!
However, when Galaxy’s Edge first opened, it wasn’t a full opening. There were a few big parts of the land still under construction, namely, the big E-ticket attraction. I’m talking about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the ride that Disney Imagineers promised would include the most groundbreaking and innovative ride system ever created for a major theme park. Now that’s saying something!
But even more bold was the rumor circling the internet that Rise of the Resistance was going to be the next Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Blasphemy! Or was it?
Twenty-five years later, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye is still one of the most thrilling ride experiences in the world, but now Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has begun recruiting citizens of Batuu into the Resistance and the game has changed.
But have Kylo Ren and company actually put the renowned archeologist in a museum? Has the Force overpowered the Eyes of Mara? Is Rise of the Resistance really the next Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye? And has Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge exceeded even Walt Disney’s wildest imaginations?
To answer those questions, let's compare Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, two of Disneyland’s most groundbreaking attractions, in several key areas, starting with:
Story is at the heart of everything that happens at the Happiest Place on Earth. From parades and attractions to live shows, character entertainment, and even dining, Walt did what no one had done or even thought of doing before. He elevated the traditional amusement park to an immersive theme park where you, his guest (not customer) are invited to step into the world of your favorite Disney stories.
More than just see, in Walt’s park you could actually touch, hear, taste, and interact with those worlds and the characters who inhabit them. You weren’t just riding a rollercoaster, you were taking a journey with some of your favorite characters and sharing in their adventures, maybe even creating a few of your own.
When it comes to Disneyland attractions, story is everything!
So how do Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance compare in terms of story? It all has to do with the role you play in their adventures.
With some Disneyland attractions, you are more of an observer. You still enter the world and experience the story as it unfolds around you, but you aren’t a participant as much as you are a fly on the wall or pirate in the water (Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight).
In other instances, you are more of a citizen or passenger. You have a reason for being in this world. Characters interact with you and you are more involved and therefore invested in that story (Star Tours, The Matterhorn Bobsleds).
And in a few unique cases, you become an agent influencing the events of the story or are given control of the attraction itself. Your actions have consequences and your choices impact ride outcomes (Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run).
Both Indy and Rise probably fall into the second category but in different ways.
With Indy, you are transported back to 1935 as a tourist entering the recently discovered Temple of Mara in India’s Lost River Delta. To help raise money to fund the excavation, Indy’s jovial companion, Sallah, has begun leading guided tours of the temple you are about to enter. However, once inside, you learn that the famed archeologist has disappeared.
You don’t necessarily become Indiana Jones, but you are following in his footsteps, driving through the perils of the Temple of Mara as he did before you. And if I were Indy, I’d probably be annoyed by a group of tourists setting off booby traps I’d worked so hard to avoid, which is what you encounter when his animatronic interacts with you and your companions along the way.
Now that’s a pretty epic (and slightly meta) way of pulling you, a tourist at a theme park, into the world of Indiana Jones. And I challenge anyone to argue that Indiana Jones isn't the perfect thematic fit for Adventureland.
With Rise of the Resistance, you are more than just a tourist. You’re actually a citizen of Batuu being recruited into the Resistance. Upon entering the queue, you receive your orders from Resistance recruiters followed by an inspirational Welcome-to-the-Resistance message from Rey and BB-8. You are then loaded onto a transport shuttle, where you will be taken to the new Resistance base and given further instructions. Poe Dameron and his squadron of X-Wings will fly escort along the way.
And then your adventure takes a slight detour…
En route to the Resistance base, your shuttle is captured by a First Order Star Destroyer, where you are then processed, interrogated, and escorted to the detention block by a group of rather prickly First Order officers and a cohort of stormtroopers.
Pretty cool. But wait, there’s more…
Once imprisoned, Finn and his Resistance fighters show up to stage a daring prison break and rescue you from the bowels of the First Order Destroyer.
From recruit, to prisoner, to escapee… your role in the story has already changed twice, as has your ride vehicle.
Reprogramming the First Order prisoner transports, Finn and his team help you navigate the passageways of the Star Destroyer and avoid First Order AT-ATs, Stormtroopers, and Kylo Ren himself as you travel to the escape pods (a third ride system) that takes you safely back to the planet of Batuu.
Welcome to the Resistance!
So in terms of story, both Indy and Rise pull you into their respective worlds. They include similar perils and daring escapes. Cast members and character animatronics address you as members of their world.
However, when it comes to the sheer number of characters interactions, the immersive environment created by the attractions cast members, and the number of story twists and turns that happen along the way, Rise of the Resistance takes immersive Disneyland storytelling into another galaxy entirely.
Advantage: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Waiting in line sucks! No one enjoys having to deal with winding switchbacks and cold metal railing of an endless queue where a three-hour wait may only culminate in a five-minute ride. It’s a pretty miserable price to pay for any attraction, even a good one.
Thankfully, the Disney Imagineers have always tried to make your time in line is as interesting and enjoyable as possible. Yes, the attraction is always the star, but the queue should be part of the show and enhance your experience as much as possible. Disney queues do this in several unique ways.
They almost always contain important bits of story that prepare you for what’s to come. While waiting in line, you learn who you are, where you’re going, and what’s at stake in this adventure. It's all about set up and payoff and building anticipation for what's to come. The Disneyland queues handle this better than anyone.
There is an incredible amount detail and Easter eggs found in almost every ride queue that’ll keep you captivated by your surroundings. These details not only enhance the suspension of disbelief, they help take your mind off of the wait itself, which is always a plus.
Most extended queues for attractions like Indiana Jones and Rise of the Resistance change, meaning, they don’t keep you in one location the entire time. The Imagineers could have created an outdoor, cattle pen that switchbacked a thousand times. But how boring and monotonous would that be? Instead, they make sure you get to experience as much of that story’s environment as possible and show you something new in every room and around every corner.
And recently, the Imagineers have begun to incorporate the Play Disney Parks app into their ride queues, adding a whole new level of interaction and story content for you to enjoy while you wait. I’m sure we all have our opinions on people being on their phones even more but… for now, it’s an interesting development in ride queue experience, one I’ll be following more closely.
So who takes the prize for the best ride queue of Indiana Jones and Rise of the Resistance?
This is a tough one, but I’m going to give the edge to Indy if only because it’s hard to know where Rise of the Resistance’s queue ends and the ride actually begins. Not only that, but Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has introduced a cutting-edge virtual queue system for some of its big-ticket experiences like Rise of the Resistance to cut back on the time you and your party spend waiting in line.
Now that may sound like an enormous cop out, but in all seriousness, Rise of the Resistance uses so many incredible pre-show elements, the actual queue is quite minimal.
With Rise, you begin in the cave systems of Batuu, which include recognizable Star Wars props and details you’d expect to find in a makeshift Resistance base: blasters, helmets, generators, display monitors, etc. However, once you make it into the chamber with Rey’s welcome video, you quickly emerge from the caves, get a great look at Poe Dameron’s X-Wing, and are then transported into space. At this point, you’ve stepped onto the first ride vehicle.
Once captured, you enter a spectacular secondary queue in the hangar of the the First Order Star Destroyer before being put in your detention cell. After being “interrogated” by Kylo Ren, you are broken out and then loaded onto the real star of the attraction, the prisoner transports, that lead you to another ride vehicle in the escape pods.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that Rise of the Resistance doesn’t have a traditional queue. It’s all one extended show experience that allows you to experience multiple story sequences, queues, and ride systems after another.
In comparison, Indy’s more than half-mile worth of queue takes you through the Bengalese jungles outside of the Temple of Mara, through an extensive system of caves covered in bat poo, and into the ruins of the Temple, booby traps and all. You also get to experience a wonderful, Around the Globe-style pre-show video featuring Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) himself.
So if you’re looking for an attraction with more scenic design, attention to detail, and Easter eggs in its queue, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more spectacular than Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.
Waiting in line for Indy is part of the joy of that experience, and it is still one of the most entertaining and even enjoyable waits of any theme park attraction.
Advantage: Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye (partly because it actually has a queue)
The Ride System and Show Moments
I’ll get to the point with this one since I’m no Imagineer and far out of my depth when it comes to describing the actual physics and ride mechanics of theme park attractions. If you want more specifics on the physics of rollercoasters and the science of Disney attractions, go watch The Imagineering Story on Disney+ or talk to my friend Joe Cardello, the Science Fellow, who’s the real wiz on this subject.
When Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye opened, it introduced one of the most groundbreaking (and expensive) ride systems ever conceived. The best way I can describe Indy’s Enhanced Motion Vehicle (or EMV) would be to imagine putting a full-range Star Tours flight simulator on wheels to create the movement and motion of a worn-down, military-style jeep. With its hydraulic rotors and advanced suspension system, this vehicle is able to do more than just drive through the temple. It’s able to simulate the up and down, side to side motion of a 1930s jeep barreling over rough terrain. If you’ve been on it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It really feels like you’re on a jeep, bouncing and barreling over uncharted terrain.
Indy also boasts some of the coolest show moments and effects created by the Imagineers. From the shifting doors of the Chamber of Destiny to the triggered poison darts and giant boulder roll/drop, Indy has it all. And certain effects have only gotten better with refurbishments and new projections added over the years.
Rise of the Resistance, however, really brings Disney attractions into the 21st Century with its trackless ride system and cutting-edge animatronics, the likes of which have never been seen before in a Disney attraction.
The sheer size and scope of Rise of the Resistance is MASSIVE, which you experience firsthand when you step inside the arena-sized hangar or drive through the legs of the full-size AT-ATs.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye was groundbreaking for its time and is still an impressive achievement in technology and physics, not to mention an unforgettable experience. Rise of the Resistance, however, pushes the envelope in terms of what can be done with ride technology and show effects, and I’m really excited to see where trackless technology takes us in the future. Rise of the Resistance might only be the tip of the iceberg.
Slight Advantage: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
I can’t say too many negative things about Rise of the Resistance. However, if you’re looking for an attraction where you feel the physical sensation of a vehicle bouncing up-and-down and side-to-side as it whips around corners and sharp turns, Indiana Jones beats Rise hands down!
Again, this isn’t a knock on Rise of the Resistance. Its trackless technology is mesmerizing in every way. However, the motion of its prisoner transports is much slower and smoother than Indy’s jeeps, and the physical motion of Rise of the Resistance’s vehicles is limited to a relatively flat plane, where Indy’s EMV can handle a lot more movement and jerky motion, which you’ll definitely feel in the pit of your stomach.
Rise of the Resistance isn’t a physical sensation so much as a visual, technical marvel. So just in terms of physical thrills, Indy is still king!
Advantage: Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye
This may not be a fair comparison since it would probably be pretty difficult to ride Rise of the Resistance multiple times in a single day, given the recent demand and scarcity of reservations available. Some of this may improve over time, but I would expect Rise of the Resistance to be a very popular attraction for years to come.
However, there are some attractions you ride and immediately want to ride again. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye is one of those attractions. I would get off and immediately get back in line if the line wasn’t too long. That’s probably not going to happen with Rise of the Resistance for quite some time.
Also, Rise of the Resistance has so much going on during the ride, it’s a little tough to take it all in on your first ride-through. Yes, you’ll definitely want to ride again, but you may also need to stop for a moment and process everything when you’re done.
Would I love to ride Rise of the Resistance twice in a single day? Absolutely! Would I be willing to skip other rides, shows, or experiences in my limited time in the park to do it? Probably not! But right now, it doesn’t matter. With how popular Rise of the Resistance will be once Disneyland re-opens, anyone would be happy to get to ride it once. And quite frankly, once is probably enough for one day.
Ride it. Catch your breath. Then try and process what you just experienced. Because there’s a really good chance you’re going to have your mind blown.
Advantage: Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye
So in summary, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are both unforgettable experiences with immersive stories, groundbreaking ride systems, and cutting edge effects that’ll make any guest marvel.
I will always put Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye at the top of my list and make sure I ride it at least once on every visit to the Happiest Place on Earth. However, I can also say that Rise of the Resistance has raised the bar in terms of what can be done when story and technology meet to create something truly magical.
Is Rise of the Resistance the next Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye? No. It’s its own thing, and there’s nothing quite like it. But will it have the same cultural impact that Indy had on guests and the park at large? Time will tell, but I’m willing to bet that kids growing up today will be talking about Rise of the Resistance in thirty years with as much admiration and joy as I do when I mention Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.
Walt Disney was famous for saying, “Disneyland will never be complete; it will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
Attractions like Rise of the Resistance and Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye prove that imagination has not left the world. It continues to grow, and before long, guests of all ages will once again get to experience magic in a place that rewards imagination and creates happiness like nowhere else.
Here’s to you Disneyland. We’ll see you again soon.
“Storytellers, we’re just getting started.”