Disney vs. Disney: Indiana Jones and Dinosaur

Disney vs. Disney Indiana Jones vs. Dinosaur

The Unofficial Guide’s ongoing Disney vs. Disney series is back with a head-to-head comparison of two E-Ticket attractions that may seem very different on the surface but are very similar underneath: Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure and Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur.

Exterior of Dinosaur ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Buckle up for back-to-back rides on Dinosaur and Indiana Jones Adventure in this EMV edition of the Unofficial Guide’s Disney vs. Disney series. (Photos/videos by Seth Kubersky)

The Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland recently reopened after extended refurbishment, which happily returned many long-defunct effects to full operation (and added some new ones) ahead of the fifth Indiana Jones film (debuting this summer). At the same time, rumors are swirling about a possible Zootopia-inspired replacement or a re-theming of Dinosaur at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. That makes this a perfect time for a Disney vs. Disney look at the differences and similarities between these two combination dark rides/motion simulators, featuring enhanced motion vehicles (EMVs) that buck and pitch (the simulator part) in sync with the visuals and special effects while moving along a path. But even though both Dinosaur and Indiana Jones utilize the same ride systems, they deliver very different experiences.

Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland

Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure, which opened in 1995, was Disney’s first EMV attraction. The adventure begins in the queue, where you find yourself at the site of an archaeology expedition with the Temple of the Forbidden Eye entrance beckoning only 50 feet away. After crossing a wooden bridge, you finally step into the temple. The good news is that you are out of the California sun. The bad news is that you have just entered Indiana Jones’s indoor queuing area, a system of tunnels and passageways extending to within 50 yards of the Santa Monica Pier.

Indiana Jones Adventure exterior queue at Disneyland

Fortunately, the queuing area is interesting. You wind through caves, down the interior corridors of the temple, and into subterranean rotundas where the archaeologists have been hard at work. Along the way there are various surprises (be sure to disregard any DO NOT TOUCH signs you see on safety ropes), as well as a succession of homilies etched in an “ancient” language on the temple walls; play the “Gifts of Mara” game in the Disney Play app to translate the glyphs. You will eventually stumble into a chamber where a short movie will explain the safety instructions. From there it’s back into the maze and finally on to the loading area.

Indiana Jones Adventure preshow safety film at Disneyland

Though the plot is complicated and not altogether clear, the bottom line is that if you look into the Forbidden Eye, you’re in big trouble. The Forbidden Eye, of course, stands out like Kim Kardashian in a bathing suit, and everybody stares at it.

The rest of the ride consists of a mad race to escape the temple as it collapses around you. In the process, you encounter snakes, spiders, lava pits, rats, swinging bridges, and the house-size granite bowling ball that everyone remembers from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Watch our complete pre-refurb POV video of the Indiana Jones Adventure below:

Dinosaur at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Dinosaur, originally known as Countdown to Extinction, was the opening-day anchor of Dinoland U.S.A. The ride’s plot has you traveling back in time on a mission of rescue and conservation. Your objective: to haul back a living dinosaur before the species becomes extinct.

Whoever is operating the clock, however, cuts it a little close, and you arrive on the prehistoric scene just as a giant asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. General mayhem ensues as you evade carnivorous predators, catch Barney, and get out before the asteroid hits.

Watch our complete POV video of Dinosaur below:

Since both Indiana Jones Adventure and Dinosaur follow nearly identical ride paths—and provide very similar physical sensations—the differences between them come down to theming, art direction, and audio/visual effects.

The Indiana Jones ride is a Disney masterpiece—nonstop action from beginning to end with brilliant visual effects. Elaborate even by Disney standards, the attraction provides a level of detail and variety of action that make use of the entire Imagineering arsenal of high-tech gimmickry.

Dinosaur also has its share of shocking effects and supersize animatronics, but they are surrounded by long stretches of blackness and blank walls. And as far as intellectual properties go, you simply can’t compare a forgotten Disney CGI cartoon to cinema’s greatest whip-cracking archaeologist.

Indiana Jones Adventure also easily takes the lead in overall atmosphere, with its expansive interactive dig-site queue. Dinosaur’s modest museum exhibits make a far-less-impressive scene setter, although the ride does boast a “so-bad-it’s-good“ preshow video starring Phylicia Rashad.

On the plus side, Disney situated Dinosaur in such a remote corner of the park that you have to poke around to find it. This, in conjunction with the overwhelming popularity of Pandora’s rides, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Expedition Everest, makes Dinosaur the easiest headliner attraction at Walt Disney World to get on. In contrast, Indiana Jones remains one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland and stays mobbed all day. If you aren’t using Genie+ for Lightning Lane access, try to ride during the first hour the park is open, during a parade or Fantasmic!, or during the hour before the park closes.

Finally, the menacing dinosaurs, along with the overall intensity of the experience, make Dinosaur a no-go for younger kids, despite its 40″-height requirement. On the other hand, most kids find Indiana Jones extremely intense and action-packed but not particularly frightening; we encountered very few children who met the 46″-height requirement who were in any way intimidated by Indy.

For all of these reasons, we rate Dinosaur 4 stars, and we rate the Indiana Jones Adventure 5 stars.

Which EMV E-Ticket attraction do you prefer, Dinosaur or Indiana Jones? Let us know in the comments below!

For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. If you are visiting Anaheim in California, you might want to get The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *