Behind the Curtain: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
Can you believe it’s been nearly 40 years since Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the silver screen? I’m not setting out to make anyone feel like they’re over the hill here, but those of you who remember seeing the film in the movies are the folks we should be thanking for the franchises’ lasting success!
On the heels of Raiders and Temple of Dooms’ success, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular opened at Disney’s MGM Studios the very same year as the third film in the franchise: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 30 some years later and guests are just as enthralled by the stunt show as ever before and snagging seats in 2018 is just as tough as it was back when the show premiered in 1989! Roll the film; it’s time to go behind the curtain of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Actors? Or Stunt Doubles?
Did you know: the performers in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular are highly trained stunt professionals? Each and every performer in the show has been trained in the art of stunting for film, television, and live shows like this one! Their training makes them eligible for casting in the show…but these ‘stunt doubles’ aren’t ‘doubles’ at all! The very same stunt people also serve as the leading men and women in the show, meaning they must not only be trained to pull off the stunts, but also in acting! Indiana Jones has to look, sound, and act just like the character depicted by Harrison Ford- that’s no small task!
Speaking of stunting- these performers didn’t wake up one day able to backflip their way through Cairo. In order to even secure an audition for the show, years of stunt doubling/acrobatic work is required. Once the performers secure a spot in the show, though, the real work begins. Hours upon hours in rehearsal rooms are spent learning the tricks and stunts you see play out flawlessly in the show. They make it look so easy, but even after all of those rehearsals, the stunt people don’t just show up for work.
Fight, lift, and stunt call take place before every performance to ensure the actors’ safety during the show. What does that mean? Well, the dangerous and difficult stunts are performed prior to the performance at slow, half, and ultimately full speed to ensure that everyone is warmed up and ready to go when the camera rolls. Do you want to be a stunt person in the show? Before you check audition listings, watch this awesome interview with an original cast member of the show:
Behind the Stunts
After seeing the show so many times, curiosity got the best of me and I simply had to know more about how the stunts go off so effortlessly each performance! While I can’t disclose my sources behind this rare bit of insight into the Disney magic, I can tell you how it all works! Let’s look at the opening sequence: Indy repels down from the ceiling of the temple in hot pursuit of the golden idol. Once he lands on the floor, he is presented with his first obstacle: navigating through a field of spears jutting from the floor.
As a member of the audience, it appears as though Indy is dodging the spikes as they unexpectedly shoot up from the booby-trapped floor when in fact, quite the opposite is happening! The actor portraying Indiana Jones is stepping onto triggered floor tiles in order to activate the shooting of the ‘spear’. While it looks like he’s dipping and dodging hastily, he is in total control of the situation. This ensures that the actor remains safe while completing the stunt. Pretty cool, right? What’s your favorite stunt in the show? We want to know, so leave us a comment below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!