Foto Friday – The Ultimate Battle: Dinosaur v. Indiana Jones Adventure

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If you have been to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, you likely know the absurdity of this comparison. However, in the bowels of the internet, fervent Disneyland and Walt Disney World fans, who seem to have a serious vested interest in their “home” park complex (despite, as best I can tell, none of these people actually living in either park) being superior to one on the opposite coast, make just such a comparison. No more than a year ago, I was one of these people, retorting “where’s your Epcot?!” when someone touted the number and quality of attractions in Disneyland. That all changed when I happened to be in a wedding in Southern California last summer, and my wife and I decided to make a spend a couple days at Disneyland while out there.

Disneyland: Land of Compasses

But this post is not about how I personally came to see the light. This post is about a comparison I often see made online between Dinosaur and Indiana Jones Adventure. To sum up the positions of both camps: Disneyland fans proclaim that Walt Disney World fans only got “Indy Lite” with Dinosaur, and Walt Disney World fans respond that Indiana Jones Adventure is nothing special, that they have basically the same thing with Dinosaur. Both of these statements are absurd.

Another Mundane Shot of the Most Amazing Sight on Earth

This comparison between an attraction featuring time traveling to prehistoric lands and encountering dinosaurs and an attraction featuring a suave professor fighting Nazis for historical artifacts makes no sense. Honestly, the closest parallel I can find between the two is that Professor Jones fears snakes, and dinosaurs somewhat resemble large, walking snakes. Pretty tenuous of a connection, if you ask me. Indiana Jones Adventure has more in common with Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at the Studios, and Dinosaur is more closely related to Universe of Energy. Still, all incredibly different attractions.

The Pinnacle of 'Classic' EPCOT Center

In reality, I think the comparison stems from the use of similar ride systems between the two attractions. However, when has a ride system ever been the defining characteristic of an attraction? If that were the case, Spaceship Earth should not have been built because a similar ride system already existed in Haunted Mansion. To me, the heart of a Disney attraction is the theme, story, and substantive quality. That said, let’s look at these more important elements of the Dinosaur and Indiana Jones Adventure.

Dinosaur begins with a queue in a museum-like setting known as the Dinosaur Institute, complete with a dinosaur skeleton and a demonstration of the meteor impact that will play a key role in the attraction to come. From there, a pre-show video featuring the mom from the Cosby family giving a stern motherly lecture to some young and mischievous scientist ensues. Following the pre-show, guests board time rovers and set out to capture an Iguanadon. The rationale for capturing a lame Iguanadon instead of something more awesome, such as a Elasmosaurus, is beyond me. I can only assume it’s because Disney contemplated a sequel to film-bomb by the same name, and real life dinosaur-actors are cheaper than CGI ones. Throughout the attraction, the time rover encounters various Dinosaurs, dodging and darting away from them, before ultimately returning back to the Dinosaur Institute. All in all, a very fun attraction with some cool, albeit brief, glimpses of dinosaurs.

The walk-through of Indiana Jones Adventure necessarily begins in the queue. Oh, what a queue it is. Detailed and containing many different areas, it is easily the best Disney queue I’ve ever experienced. Once you’re near the completion of the queue, you watch a very witty and tongue-in-cheek video setting the stage for your upcoming adventure. I could watch this video all day. Once you board your ride vehicle, you begin your adventure, and someone in your vehicle does exactly what the pre-show warned against. Dang tourists! From there, things get dicey, and you attempt to escape while navigating across bridges, bubbling lava, away from mummies and snakes, and a whole host of other dangers. At the end, you encounter Indiana Jones himself, and you will immediately think, “I wonder if there are still FastPasses for this–I want to ride again!” Although I am loath to make a comparison between Dinosaur and Indiana Jones Adventure, I will say that Indiana Jones Adventure is easily one of the best attractions, if not the best, in any American Disney Park.

If you’re heading down this path of being a fan of only Walt Disney World or Disneyland, fear not, as there still is hope for you. Visit the park that you have not yet visited. My point, even if feebly made, with this post is that when wearing the blinders we may have for our particular “favorite” park, we may lose objectivity and compare things in a manner that makes a trip to the other coast pointless or even inadvisable. This is definitely not the case. The “other” coast, regardless of which one it is, really has a lot to offer to the serious Disney fan, and any serious Disney fan would be remiss if they overlooked visiting one coast because of some misguided allegiance for the other (both resort complexes are owned by the Walt Disney Company, for what it’s worth). As demonstrated above with this meritless comparison, your pre-conceptions about the “other” park might be entirely wrong. I know mine were. Just last year, I thought visiting that little park out west would be a waste of time and a lost Walt Disney World trip. Now I’m about to become a Disneyland Annual Passholder.

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Posted on February 4, 2011

8 Responses to “Foto Friday – The Ultimate Battle: Dinosaur v. Indiana Jones Adventure”

  • by Isabelle Boivin on February 4, 2011, at 10:17 am EDT

    Great post.. with great pics… what else can you ask for :)

  • There is no battle: Indy absolutely dominates Dinosaur. Dino was done on the cheap – the 100% cheesy pterodactyl flying overhead, the fact that it’s largely done in the dark (the “right!”, “left!”, “right!” part) to cover up the lack of a fully fleshed out interior, the lack of scale that the initial Indy room has. You’re 100% correct.

    • See, I don’t think this is entirely fair. There is no doubt that Dinosaur had a lesser budget than Indy (it was built in the midst of construction of an already over budget theme park, whereas Indy was a single expenditure in an existing park, to be fair). It seems to me that Dinosaur is only viewed as lacking when viewed relative to Indy. However, they are dramatically different attractions, as indicated above. When viewed on its own merits (as should be the case), I think Dinosaur stands up pretty well. It’s not the best attraction ever, but it’s witty, has a pretty good story, and some decent visuals. Sure, it’s no Indy, but why even bother making the comparison? More than 75% of the attractions at both complexes would come up severely lacking when compared to Indy.

      • I don’t like Dinosaur at all, disirregardless of Indy. I don’t even bother to ride it when I go to AK. However, Indy is one of my favorite rides ever. The problem with Dinosaur is:

        1. Most of the ride is random jerking around in blackness (I guess that saves money!)
        2. The story/narration is contrived and obnoxious “definitely NOT our dino!!”. I think I might even like this ride if it had no narration, just sound effects.

        I think they ram the story down your throat to take the place of not having much visuals. Weak, Eisneresque.

  • Tom, speaking of the photos . . . . . what’s your trick to getting those amazingly vivid blue and purple hues? I thought it might be long exposures, but then you have that one shot from a moving ride vehicle in Universe of Energy. Nothing I shoot in the dark looks like that.

  • I have not ridden indy, and i’m sure it is spectacular, but i don’t really understand all the hate towards dinosaur. Personally, it is my favorite ride in all of disney. The right, left, right part may have been the cheap way out, but it is one of my favorite parts of the ride. The special effects are awesome and the ride is one of the few at disney that keeps me on the edge of my seat. The only part i wish they would remove/improve is the lame pterodactyl.