Go back to before Captain EO, before Star Tours, before the Indiana Jones Adventure. Disneyland was without any Lucasfilm property attractions were barely even being planned or thought of. The early 1980’s. This was when we saw a lot of plans for attractions changing in Disneyland. One of the biggest ones is known as the Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition. I mean look at that concept art!!
|Original Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition Concept Art|
Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition can be best described as a whole Indiana Jones pavilion. It was a large area of land that would be themed completely around the Indiana Jones IP. I know there is a lot here so we will break it down as we don’t have much for this area except this one picture and an aerial map.
|Jungle Cruise in IJLE|
Starting on the left side of this image you can see a boat ride. Not sure what that is? It’s the Jungle Cruise! At the time, they were planning to expand the Jungle Cruise into this new, large show building. It would go through or around the river temple, some boobie traps set by the temple people, and then a rocky gorge before ending back on their original track.
|Mine Train Track in ILJE|
Near the bottom of the image, you can see a mine train-like track. This would be the first main attraction for this building. In other pieces of art talking about this attraction, it is only described as an “Ore car attraction”. Based off of this concept art and descriptions however it seems like it’d be a runaway mine train coaster similar to the one you can see in the second Indiana Jones movie, the Temple of Doom.
|Indiana Jones Adventure in ILJE|
On the right side of this concept art, you can see what appears to a jeep. And that is exactly the case. The other main attraction that can only be accessed through this building was a jeep expedition ride. This ride was going to be very similar to The Indiana Jones Adventure that you see now in Disneyland just much longer as it features an outdoor part. Think Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal Orlando.
|Disneyland Railroad through ILJE|
The fourth attraction that could be found within this building can be slightly seen at the top of the image. Yes, that is the Disneyland Railroad! Much like Splash Mountain does currently, it was planned that you could see into this building from the Disneyland Railroad.
Now I know what you are thinking. How was all of this supposed to fit together and in that area between the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean? Well luckily, that is the only other piece of evidence we have for this experience.
|Full Aerial Map of the Expansion|
I actually find this elevation map a lot more helpful for describing what is going on than the one piece of concept art. We will start with how you get back to the attraction. Because of the size of it, the entrance area would be a bit different than how it is now.
|Entrance to the Area|
To get to the area, you’d have to go down and around the Swiss Family Treehouse, now Tarzan’s Treehouse. It’s still similar to how it is currently, just because there are two attractions down there with this design you have to go deeper into the jungle.
|Jeep Car Attraction|
The Jeep Car attraction started at the bronze building and is elevated as the jeeps go over the walking path to get there as well as a waterfall that can be seen from the Jungle Cruise. After weaving through more trees the jeeps hit the river temple. That is where the transition is to lead to go indoors. Once inside, however, we have no real idea what it would have looked like. Based off of the concept art I would say it would be fairly similar to the Indiana Jones Adventure that we have now. As you can see, there was even a plan to have the classic rolling ball still!
|Ore Car Attraction|
Moving on to the Ore Car attraction, it seems like a fairly short attraction. After walking up the hill to the attraction building you go almost straight inside of the building to what appears to do a few figure 8’s around a volcano before heading out again. Again, we don’t have a lot on what this attraction would have looked like but I’m guessing it would have been fairly fast and would have been an E-ticket attraction as well.
|Jungle Cruise Path Through IJLE|
Now on to the two attractions that go into the building but are outside attractions. First up is the Jungle Cruise. As you can see it appears that there is a plane in the river leading the boats towards the River Temple where the Jungle Cruise then goes into the show building and then exits into a Rocky Gorge and a trestle bridge holding the Disneyland Railroad. After going under this bridge, the Jungle Cruise goes back on its regular path. I wonder if the skippers would still tell jokes while trying to avoid the dangers of the traps.
|Railroad Path Through ILJE|
Lastly, the railroad. As mentioned with the Jungle Cruise the railroad will go over the river on a trestle bridge before entering the building. Based off of the art, the railroad would be near the top of the building looking down into the attraction. After exiting the building, the railroad would most likely enter a tunnel behind Pirates of the Caribbean like you see currently.
So why didn’t this happen? There are believed to be two main reasons for it not being built. The first reason is the price of it. The Indiana Jones Adventure was believed to have cost about $100 million at opening due to the demolition of the Eeyore Parking lot, R&D, and construction. And that is just for one attraction, you can see how that entire pavilion would have easily cost over $150 million in the blink of an eye. The other main reason it wasn’t built was competition. It was being designed at the same time as Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain’s lead Imagineer was Tony Baxter. And to summarise Disney parks over the decades where Tony Baxter was an Imagineer, don’t compete with Tony. You will lose every time. Splash Mountain had many advantages over the Indiana Jones pavilion such as the price was estimated to be about a third of the cost compared to Indiana Jones, Bear Country needed a new thrill ride, it gave Disneyland the water ride they were missing, and it meant they were able to re-use Audio-Animatronics from the recently closed America Sings. Because of these four reasons, Splash Mountain ended up winning this battle and opened in 1989. 6 years later, the Indiana Jones Adventure opened in 1995. With lead Imagineer, Tony Baxter. Classic Tony.
|The Indiana Jones Attraction Disneyland Got|
Just because we lost this pavilion though doesn’t mean it is gone forever. In Disneyland Paris, they have Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril which is an Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride. Eerily similar to the Ore Cart attraction planned. They also have enough space left around this ride to add in more attractions… Potentially the rest of the Lost Expedition? The closest we have to the full Lost Expedition can be found at Tokyo DisneySea in the Lost River Delta area. There, they have the exact replica of the Indiana Jones Adventure and the exact replica of the Disneyland roller coaster side-by-side! Sure, they aren’t under the same roof, but they are a lot closer than any other park we have.
|Lost River Delta in Tokyo DisneySea|
I think this whole pavilion would have been so cool to see in real life but I can see why it didn’t happen as I am also a big fan of Splash Mountain.