Special events for Annual Passholders continue as Disneyland celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Indiana Jones Adventure with a two special after-hours parties on the West Side of the Park. A panel discussion with Tim O’Day and Disney Legend Tony Baxter was held at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. Guests were encouraged to arrive 20 minutes before the event, but the line was quickly forming in Frontierland shortly after 8pm.

Before the panel began, we enjoyed clips of media interviews and events held prior to the 1995 grand opening. In one of the videos, those with the last name of Jones were able to ride the attraction early on the grand opening day. And the first guests to ride was the Jones family from, where else, Indiana! Go figure!

Tony Baxter shared his experience on working on the Indiana Jones Adventure, which was really a 14 year project. It started when Tony and another Imagineer went to an advanced screening of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ in 1981. From then, Tony was wondering how and if an Indiana Jones ride could be built. Of course it could. But where? Disneyland? Okay. Adventureland? You mean build the biggest attraction in Disneyland history in the smallest land in Disneyland? Sure why not! And how would the rights be secured? Ask George Lucas? No big deal!

Of course, many challenges went into designing such a complex and high tech attraction at the time. Did you know that Disney Legend Herb Ryman had a part in the making of Indiana Jones? He came up with one of the first concept designs. It was to be a mine car ride along the lines of Snow White’s Scary Adventures. It eventually evolved from there. When coming up with a ride vehicle for the attraction, the Imagineers wanted something that would be programmed so that you could never have the same experience twice. There’s where the “Enhanced Motion Vehicles” or “Troop Transports” come to play. They are not “Jeeps,” which Tony kept saying a few times at the beginning of the panel. (Side note: Tony did say he does drive a red Jeep with Figment on the back.) And one video shown during the presentation had a reporter saying “Jeep” at least 5 times.

Testing for the new ride vehicles was done at a warehouse in Valencia “across the freeway from that MM Park” as Tony said. Hundreds of Imagineers, artists, painters, and sculptors were involved in the making of the Indiana Jones Adventure that Tony couldn’t remember how many were actually involved. It seemed as everyone enjoyed the 45 minute long panel. I definitely did because I learned more about the attraction than I knew before.

Of course, there was much more going on besides the panel. Special entertainment took place in Adventureland, most attractions on the West Side of the Park were open, and a special non-Fastpass performance of Fantasmic was shown at 11:30pm.

Many ask how we find out about these special Passholder events. Well, one way to know is to follow ‘Disneyland Annual Passholders’ on Facebook. Some event notifications go out by email only, so not everyone will know about them. Either way, if you have the time and are interested in the event, sign up and attend. You never know what you may see.