Everything we know about Disney World's heavily rumored Indiana Jones land

For decades, rumors of an Indiana Jones ride coming to Walt Disney World have been a persistent murmur, but recently those murmurs got a lot louder.

Back when details on what the massive redo of Hollywood Studios would entail started trickling out, we began hearing about a possible new land based on Indiana Jones. Those rumors quickly shifted to Animal Kingdom, where Dinoland is likely the next area set for a massive update.

This land is mostly filled with carnival rides and kiddie play areas with one signature E-ticket attraction, Dinosaur. Despite going through a name change (it was originally called Countdown to Extinction) the ride has remained virtually untouched since opening with the park in 1998. The most significant changes over the past 20 years include re-skinning a few of the dinosaurs and making some updates to the lighting system, to make the ride a bit less scary.

The supposed plans for the Dinoland update grew in size as Disney failed to draw the demand they were expecting with the new Rivers of Light nighttime show and the high-budget Avatar-themed land. Even before opening, there was already talk of Rivers of Light being replaced within the next few years. Other evening entertainment has since been scaled back, as the focus shifts to the new offerings at Hollywood Studios, the first of which, Toy Story Land, is roughly four months away from opening.

Dinosaur uses the same ride system and track as Disneyland’s Indiana Jones ride. This has caused many to speculate that Dinosaur will eventually be redone to the much more popular Indiana Jones ride. It is true that some of the rooms on the attraction here in Orlando are a bit different than those in Anaheim, but even with this slight difference, it should be rather easy for the ride update.

But now it looks like that Animal Kingdom update isn’t a sure bet. An insider, known as Marni1971, who has a well-respected track record confirmed on the WDWMagic forums that an Indiana Jones was in the cards for Disney World, but the park has to be determined. The only park off the list is the Magic Kingdom, which is getting a new TRON themed roller coaster and possibly a new performance theater, though it looks like that project might now be on the backburner or canceled altogether.

Marni1971 also confirmed another thing that many fans have been clamoring for. The award-winning ride system Disney used for Shanghai’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride would be used on an upcoming attraction here in Orlando.

The Pirates ride, which is solely based on the film franchise and not the classic dark ride, has boats that can move in multiple directions seamlessly, similar to trackless ride systems like SeaWorld’s Antarctica ride. Screens and real sets are intertwined creating an intense update to the slow-moving boat ride we know stateside. While not confirmed to be Indiana Jones-themed, the placement of the announcements seem that they are somehow related, possibly part of the same budget proposal, though the boat ride doesn’t seem to be Indiana Jones themed itself. The Nav’i River Journey boat ride in Pandora: The World of Avatar was rumored to feature the same tech as the Pirates ride, but instead it features a more traditional forward movement only track based system.

What’s unique in the new rumor is that while unlikely to be final location for the attraction, as of right now Epcot seems to be in the running for the Indiana Jones attraction.

Epcot’s update won’t be finished until the mid-2020s with a new restaurant, two new rides, and an update to Future World already confirmed. Another new or updated ride is also strongly rumored. Though up to this point none of the rumored additions featured a boat ride. The most likely place would be in a World Showcase pavilion, but it’s hard to imagine how such an attraction wouldn’t feel shoehorned in.

At Hollywood Studios the long-standing rumor involved an e-ticket attraction, a small outdoor ride, and a dining outlet. This new land is believed to be one of the options for the area where the Indiana Jones stunt show currently is. Another major ride in this park would make sense. Even with the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge the park will only have eight or nine rides mattering if Star Tours closes, which is expected around the time the new Star Wars land opens.

Hollywood Studios is currently the only Disney World park, and only one of two parks in Orlando, without a boat ride attraction. Indiana Jones did appear on The Great Movie Ride. That attraction closed last year to make way for a brand-new cutting-edge projection mapping based attraction featuring Mickey Mouse. In recent years, the Indiana Jones-themed land has been focused on less by the fan community, as they instead focus on the possible Monsters, Inc. land that will accent Toy Story Land in the park.

Despite all of this, Animal Kingdom still looks to be the frontrunner of this new Indiana Jones-themed land which will likely include a new roller coaster, possibly Disney World’s first wooden coaster, and a new dining location similar to the plans initially rumored for Hollywood Studios.

The strongest rumors point to the Shanghai Pirates boat ride tech replacing the Theater in the Wild, where the Finding Nemo musical is currently held, directly beside the new Indiana Jones-themed land. This ride would feature a popular Disney character that has yet to have a strong presence in the parks. Having both of these additions at Animal Kingdom makes sense as Disney continues to struggle to keep guest in the park for more than a few hours.

Last year, as the rumors began heating up there was even talk of an Indiana Jones-themed hotel in the works. This hotel would be similar to the new Star Wars one, where guests are fully enclosed in the themed environment with all dining, entertainment, and even the sleeping quarters all highly themed to Star Wars.

With Toy Story Land opening within the next few months and Star Wars land opening next year, it might be awhile before Disney gives us a lot of details on what to expect post-2019. But it's clear that numerous projects (including new attractions, new hotels, new transit systems, and a new mixed-use district) are in the works that will bring the largest expansion in the resort's history.

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