The first Backward roller coaster at Disney: Part 2 of our look at Disney’s first Looping roller coaster

The ride opened to the public and filled out its objectives.  Discovery Mountain (now renamed to Space Mountain: De la Terre a La Lune) opened in 1995 and Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril remained open to the public to help with the crowds.   Remember how the ride was meant to last 5 years?  1998 came and went… and the ride was still open with no sign of construction on the replacement ride.  The ride started to suffer from increasing mechanical failures and the lines were still unacceptable for the ride, even growing longer than the ones for Big Thunder Mountain.  The resort was in the midst of construction on the second gate, the Walt Disney Studios and resources were quite limited to have something to advertise for the 2000 season to hold guests over until the Walt Disney Studios open in 2002.

Space Mountain DLP night (2)

Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris at night.

First, the park decided to enclose the open air Chapparal Theater with a roof to cover the stage and seating area and to house a new production:  Tarzan: La Rencontre (Tarzan:  the Encounter).   Second, ride wise, the Temple du Peril was in need of mechanical work, so why not do it and throw a new gimmick at it in order to have something to advertise for the 2000 season?  That course was decided and Intamin AG called back to work on the ride.

First, capacity had to increase and to that end, 7 new trains were purchased from Intamin.  The new trains gave a 50% capacity increase since each car would have 3 rows of 2 and two cars would still be coupled together.  This worked out perfectly, but in order to have the ride car’s weight as close to the original as possible, the large molded foam padding that served as the seating area in the old cars was removed and guests now sat on the fiberglass itself.  The only remaining padding was two thin strips of foam for the back and a foam headrest.  The restraints remained the same and Intamin AG was thoughtful enough to install two release pedals in the back of each car so that cast members on either side can open restraints when required.  The mine car appearance stayed the same and due to the car longer base, the ride had to be re-profiled in some areas to accommodate the new cars.

Temple Du Peril train

The new 6 passenger cars.  Notice there are only the two thin strips of padding beside the headrests now.

Theming was also reconfigured because of the new gimmick:  the ride changed its name to “Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril… A l’Envers!” (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril… Backward!) since the new cars direction was reversed and guests would experience the ride backward.  Unfortunately, the four torches around the ride saw little use and were not lit as much as before post 2000 refurbishment.

The waiting line was reconfigured for two reasons:  Fast Pass was coming to the ride and a new store would take the place of the old entrance across the small plaza in front of the ride.  This now meant that you had 3 entrances to the ride:  an entry gate straight to the ride for guests who can’t go down the stairs, the left entrance under the new entry portal for Fast Pass that go straight to the merge point at the bottom of the stairs and the right entrance, for stand-by guests.  That guest also go down some stairs into the old waiting line and right before the stone stairs, merge with the fast pass guests.  The large tent nicknamed internally “The BBQ” to the right of the stairs finally started seeing little use as it was an out of sight area that was prone to line cutting and conflicts between guests.  By having many guests use Fast Pass, the waiting line without the BBQ was more than sufficient and this made the experience better for everyone.

Temple du Peril Entrance

The new entrance with electronic waiting time sign and the Fast Pass entrance on the left.

Guests were very intrigued at first by the Backward gimmick, but the ride more aggressive experience and larger capacity meant that lines started getting very short and the ride not as popular as before.  It could be a rough experience for passengers since you could not see the turns or the loop coming and many guests were startled and jostled by the attraction and it attracted less repeat business.

Indiana Jones DLP old track

In this scanned picture, you can see some track sections that were changed and reprofiled during the 2000 refurbishment.

The ride received an all new Walt Disney Imagineering control system capable of running 6 trains at once and this increased capacity to a very good 1600 guests an hour.  The system was also easier to monitor since the WDI screens were installed at the main console and in the maintenance shop.  The ride itself was quite reliable from that point on and a reliable workhouse in the park.  The ride seventh train is always in “cycling” (annual teardown and rebuild maintenance) so that the ride always has 6 units available for weekends and vacation period.

Running 6 trains on the ride was quite intensive labor wise as an extra unload cast member was required and a cast member had to sit on the brake run!  Why?  Remember when we mentioned that a train stopped in the final brakes would be slow exiting it?  With five trains, it was not an issue, but when you throw a sixth train into the equation, you have a potential emergency stop.  See, the ride was programmed to automatically do an emergency stop if for some reasons, a train has to stop in one of the ride 3 block brakes and what happens if the final brakes are still occupied while the sixth train reach the post Helix brake?  It will stop abruptly there and the ride just went down.  The cast member sitting at the end of the ride job is simple:  if a train is stopped there, he will go out and push it forward a little, which was enough to get it on the next pusher tires and out of the way on time for the 6th train to exit the helix.

In 2001, the Temple Traders store opened in front of the ride and serves at the ride main location for specific merchandise.  It has a nice logo with the stone Cobra guardians featured.

The writing was on the wall and in 2004, Le Temple du Peril closed a week and during that time, maintenance flipped the cars around, reversed the sensors and other equipment and the ride reopened as simply “Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril”.  Air Gates were also installed in the station to prevent guests from approaching the track when the station is empty or from jumping on moving trains.

Temple Du Peril Loading Station

In this overhead view of the station, you can see the air gates on the right.

The ride went along like that for 10 years, but the park started running 6 trains less often as the air gates added extra time to loading that made it too impractical and it settled quite nicely in 5 trains operation.  In 2013, the ride scenery that was meant to be temporary was too damaged and the park had to take a hard look again at the ride with a decision of either a removal or another refurbishment.  Unlike 2000 where the Hindu Temple structure was not addressed, the decision here was to make the ride permanent and a different manufacturer called to work on the ride system.

The ride closed for a 5 months period in 2014 and crews worked around the clock in two areas:  first, the foam Temple was replaced by a sculpted concrete Temple built the same way as the award winning mountain range of Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure. This made the Temple look even better and finally took care of the durability aspect.

Second, Vekoma came in and analysed the whole structure.  What they determined is that the ride itself was still in remarkable shape and the track change in 2000 effectively took care of all the high stress areas, except for one: the loop.  The old loop was always quite problematic and maintenance had to do extra work on it in order to keep the ride operational.  So Vekoma took in account the 12 passenger train loads and designed a new larger loop that would fit in the tight space in the middle of the ride.  The new loop would use the Everest style track and would be capable of taking anything the trains will throw at it.

Now, how to remove the old loop and install the new one?  Disneyland Paris did not take any chances and called upon the famed German ride installers RCS (Rollercoaster Construction Services) to execute that incredible feat.  RCS came in twice with one of their larger crane and were able to remove the loop without damaging the Temple surrounding track.  Next, Vekoma delivered the loop and it was assembled on the ground.  Then, RCS lifted it and lowered it into its new home where it was perfectly compatible with the existing Intamin track.

The plan was a success:  the loop is even smoother and better than before and the Temple look incredible.  Plus, they were successful at bringing back the torches around the ride and we again have the 1993 nighttime look.

Temple du Peril at night (2)

The two torches illuminating the night at the entrance plaza.

Temple du Peril at night (1)

The stone staircase at night and one of the two torch was lit.

 

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