The Indiana Jones decoder cards are back... this time in digital form.
For those who came on the scene after the 1995 opening of Disneyland's Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye (aka Indiana Jones Adventure), Disneyland once handed out decoder cards that fans could use to translate "Mara-glyphics" symbols written through the queue.
At some point, Disney ran out of the cards, which soon became collectibles. It's offered the cards again on a limited basis now and then, but for most fans these days, the symbols in the queue are nothing more than decoration, incomprehensible without either the explanation that they are a written language or a way to read it.
Now Disneyland is reviving this feature of one of its original interactive queues by building an Indiana Jones translation function to its Play Disney Parks app. It's part of a new game in the app, available now, called "Indiana Jones Adventure – The Gifts of Mara."
As guests explore this game within the app, they will be able to once again decode the ancient glyphs, along with some new symbols and codes that have been added throughout the queue, to piece together the legends of Mara. Each translated code will reveal a single portion of a map. Guests can complete the maps to receive digital achievements, and finish a set in order to piece together a special message from Mara herself.
The Play Disney Parks apps also is the app that you use to access the Star Wars Datapad that allows you to translate signs, play games, complete missions, hack droids, start spaceships and have your on-ride performance tracked inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
Throwing this open for debate... I'm not a big fan of parks encouraging fans to use their phones for entertainment while inside the park. Yes, official apps are great for logistical stuff such as finding your way around the park, checking wait times and schedules, and making and changing reservations. But I much prefer that parks play to their strengths by creating wait experiences that entertain you with engaging environments and performances rather than asking you pass the time by playing some game on your phone. After all, once you take out that phone, it's just too easy to click open Facebook, Instagram, or some other app that draws you out of the park experience.
But at least these games from Disney direct your attention to physical elements around you in the park, using the phone as a way to enhance and enliven those surroundings. The new Indiana Jones game also should help revive what had become a dormant interactive feature in one of the park's longest queues. So even if no park seems yet to have perfected a must-play, in-park mobile game, this latest attempt by Disney seems a decent step toward that goal.
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