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Disney buys the film distribution rights for Indiana Jones. So what's that mean for the theme parks?

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Published: December 6, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Disney today announced that it had purchased the distribution rights to the Indiana Jones franchise from Paramount Pictures. Disney had obtained the character rights to Indiana Jones when it bought Lucasfilm, but Paramount had retained the right to distribute any future Indiana Jones movies. With today's deal, those rights now go to Disney.

Which invites speculation that Disney now will produce and distribute a fifth Indiana Jones film. After all, there's no value to buying the rights to distribute a movie that no one's going to make.

With Disney almost certain to at least be pursuing a fifth Indiana Jones film, theme park fans ought to be excused for wondering what Disney's long-term plan for the franchise might be. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, which counts Star Wars and Indiana Jones among its properties, the company quickly began work on a new Star Wars-themed land for Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and a new Star Wars overlay for at least part of Disneyland's Tomorrowland. With new Indiana Jones movies on the horizon, might Disney also increase its investment in Indy as a theme park franchise?

Indiana Jones Adventure

Certain Disney World fans long have desired their own version of Disneyland's Indiana Jones ride, wanting more of a presence for the franchise than the stunt show now playing at DHS. But Disney World already has the Indiana Jones ride. Sort of. The Dinosaur ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom uses the same ride system and track layout as Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure.

Disney's 2000 Dinosaur movie didn't launch an enduring franchise. Heck, Don Bluth had more luck with The Land Before Time franchise in attracting kids with animated dinosaurs. For grown-ups, Universal's locked up the market with the Jurassic Park franchise. If Disney wants to increase the theme park presence of Indiana Jones, it might get the most return on its investment by giving up on dinosaurs and retheming the Dinosaur ride into an east-coast version of the Indiana Jones Adventure. Disney could complete the transformation of Dinoland USA into an Indiana Jones land by removing the troublesome Primeval Whirl roller coaster and replacing it with the Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril/Raging Spirits coaster now found at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea. It's not an especially popular coaster, but it's a fun ride that would give Disney a second looping coaster at the Walt Disney World Resort. Heck, Disney could lift much of the design for DisneySea's Lost River Delta to create an Indiana Jones land at Animal Kingdom.

Raging Spirits

Of course, Indy's an archeologist, not a paleontologist. But Disney already blew up the park's theme with the announced addition of an Avatar-themed land. Indiana Jones at least would provide a second powerhouse franchise to help make Animal Kingdom an even more popular destination for theme park fans.

What would you like to see the Walt Disney Company do with the Indiana Jones franchise in its theme parks?

Readers' Opinions

From 173.15.170.249 on December 6, 2013 at 5:25 PM
I all sorts of hate the idea of an Indiana Jones re-theme to dinosaur. I personally would not mind the Indiana Jones ride at DHS or MK even if the ride system and track is a duplicate. So many dark rides have the same system but the story telling and theming is what makes the rides unique. I really don't think a duplicate layout is problematic enough to keep them from building the ride; the two attractions feel completely unique.

Additionally, the idea of Avatar in AK has really grown on me. The theme of the movie was environmental conservation and preservation, a core facet of AK. The lush terrain also is a perfect match. Plus fictional animals were always a part of the plan, although they tended to lean towards mythical, rather than creatures so specific. I do feel like fictional animals that have more of a history (dragons, unicorns, etc.) would be more appropriate and better suited for the long run. A fantastical land could incorporate attractions from numerous existing and new movies quite easily, and if the avatar fever dies the whole land won't need to be replaced.

From Phil B. on December 6, 2013 at 7:01 PM
The Indiana Jones/Dinosaur track layout comparison is the most asinine and maddening supposed reason for not brining Indy to the East Coast. A hugely high percentage of the people who go to WDW resort are not theme park nerds. They don't care if the track layout is the same, nor would most of them ever realize it. The biggest comparisons that would be made by the casual guest is that the ride vehicles are in essence the same thing. NOBODY, is going through the ride and paying attention to the layout of the track. It's the dumbest thing in the world to imagine this is in any way a fact or a deterrent for bringing Indy out East. There is absolutely no reason why both couldn't exist in the same resort in different parks with completely different themes and show elements.
From Dan Heaton on December 6, 2013 at 7:23 PM
I hate to get too excited about anything happening with Indiana Jones in the parks. They're moving way too slowly with Star Wars and Marvel (which I know can't happen in Orlando), so I don't expect anything to happen in the near future. This is mostly about making new films, so any attraction is probably at least five years down the road, if not further.

I would love to see the Indiana Jones ride in Florida because it's awesome and it's easier for us to get there. However, it would be more interesting to have something new. The Indiana Jones coaster in Paris is lame and dull. However, I would take it over Primeval Whirl.

From Thomas Caselli on December 6, 2013 at 9:17 PM
For years I have been wanting Disney to put an Indiana Jones ride like the one at Disneyland, in Walt Disney World. I always thought that it should be put in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom too.
From Anthony Murphy on December 6, 2013 at 10:03 PM
I would like to see something else Indy Themed
From Sylvain Comeau on December 6, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Avatar arguably fits into the theme of AK. Indy? Not even remotely. I say it's time for a new (not a clone of the one at Disneyland) Indy ride at DHS. How about in the huge space which opened up when they scrapped the phony Studio Tour?
From Sylvain Comeau on December 6, 2013 at 11:13 PM
I agree that a similar track is no biggie. I've been on Indy and Dinosaur, and never would have noticed the identical track if I hadn't read about it on Disney sites. Is anyone complaining that Universal Orlando now has both Spider-Man and Transformers?
Besides, like I said above, a brand new, non-cloned Indy ride would be a huge draw. What about one based on the later(or upcoming) movies?
From O T on December 7, 2013 at 1:30 AM
@Sylvain Comeau Spider-Man and Transformers share the same ride technology (like Nemo and friends, the Little Mermaid, Haunted Mansion and Spaceship earth share the omnimover ride technology) but the ride layout is completely different. Transformers even got an elevator, something Spider-man doesn't have. But I'm with you if you mean the story and style of Indy is completely different from Dino and has a right to exist side by side.

I hate the Indy coaster at Paris. It's extremely short, uncomfortable and looks better then it rides. I think the exploration from the Indy movies would translate to the exotic destinations in AK but the way they portray animals in the movies are not a good fit to AK. I rather see an original explorer like the one from Mystic Manor get a whole land in AK showing of his house but also his hangar where we can go in his airship visiting the natural beauty of planet earth and his glasshouse and butterfly garden.

Please Disney leave Indy alone. I have fond memories about the first 3 movies. That memory is tainted by the 4th turd of a movie and we don't need a 5th one. Harrison Ford has become to old to play the role and the transition to his son was a huge mistake.

From 114.161.33.118 on December 7, 2013 at 2:36 AM
I honestly hope they do two more movies with Harrison Ford. But feature a young Indy for a few flashbacks like they did with River phoenix, but a bit older now. Have the same actor portray young Indy in movies 5 and 6 ( again in flashbacks ), and then starting with movie 7, have that young actor take over the reigns and be the main indy, with perhaps a flash-forward to an old Indy if you must in movie 7

This would be the best way to slowly introduce and get a new indy to the fans with out leaving out the Harrison ford fans

Of course this means they would have to do the next two movies pretty much back to back and soon

From 84.56.71.133 on December 7, 2013 at 5:08 AM
So this is it? Just build attractions anymore that can be cross sold with some kind of movie and toy brand?
From 71.75.58.124 on December 8, 2013 at 8:26 PM
A mine train like temple de peril because im never going to Disneyland paris but maybe a better layout bigger coaster that would compete with Everest but first Animal kingdom needs to get the Giant Yeti working I still love Everest my favorite ride at Animal kingdom!
From Anon Mouse on December 9, 2013 at 9:08 AM
Doesn't Disney always have the theme park rights? This news is irrelevant on whether Disney will add more Indiana Jones attractions. I also don't understand why Disney would bother with film distribution rights. The series has imploded with the terrible recent movie. I just don't know where they will take it. There isn't much more they can do with it especially since the world as we know it is pretty much explored and exploited. The Nazi backstories of the original and sequels were interesting, but tired today. A boobie trapped archaeological site is no longer realistic.
From Thomas Caselli on December 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM
The negative nellies are here!
From Alfonso Giordano on December 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Maybe they can revamp the Indiana Jones stunt show, since it has had the same script since it opened (AFAIK.) I rode the Indiana Jones ride once at Disneyland; I liked "Countdown to Extinction" better but it's in dire need of rehab. The last few times I've been on it nothing was working correctly.

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