Epic Stunts at the Disney MGM Studios: Part 2A of the Fire Series

To make our earlier articles easier to read and load on mobile devices, they were separated in smaller articles and more content added.

The park opened with the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, but the show was not quite ready and ran in a reduced form until August 25th, 1989. Built around a large sloping 2000 seats stadium, the stage appears at first to be a decaying Incan temple. Indiana Jones burst in through the ceiling and then rappels down to the floor. He then dodges floor spears, a trapped floor and axe swinging statues on the way to the Golden Idol of Fertility. He substitutes a bag of sand for the Idol… but he guess wrong and it cause the temple to start collapsing. Parts of the floor break open and shoot out large fireballs through clouds of smoke.  He gets rolled over by the large boulder, but thankfully, we see that he is ok.


This is one of the breaking floors shooting off steam after sending a fire blast out.

We have now transitioned to Cairo after the Temple revealed itself to be 3 moving parts that slide over to the sides of the stage, thus revealing a 1930’s Cairo backdrop.  The story here is that Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood are exploring a marketplace, but get ambushed by the hired goons of “Mr. Toth”, a Nazi secret agent.  When the show opened, the six henchmen put on an elaborate acrobatic show, including a forward roll through a circle of swords.  By the mid 1990’s, the circle was removed and the henchmen weapons hidden in various fake carpets held by extras and littered around the stage.  One thing that also changed is that Marion and a thug would cartwheel together as part of the fight routine, but this was removed.  After cracking his whip and knocking down all the goons and Mr. Toth, Marion and Indy escape to the rooftops and make their way across, but get stuck.  They then jump off 32 feet and land in a pile of carpets and clothes that shoot off to the sky.

After fighting their way out of the market, they are confronted by a giant swordman.  While Indiana Jones deal with him, two henchmen kidnap Marion and stuff her in the back of the truck that Mr. Toth had driven himself in earlier.  Just like in the movie, Indy just shoots the swordman and then turn his attention to a machine gun man on the roof of a building.  He dodges the fire and shoot him down, causing him to fall down.  Indy then grabs his machine gun.

Fire is used in the second scene here as Indy shoot at a jeep that is heading straight for him. The truck blows up, flips over and then catches fire when it lands. It is a clever switch, as we see the stunt double playing Marion being abducted and loaded in the back of the truck, thus making the crowd worries that Marion and the thugs are in danger.  It drives out of sight and park behind the market building then Marion uses a hidden passage in the building and wait behind a secret door. A prop truck is mounted on a track going around the building and that is the one that is rigged to blow up. This is accomplished using two loud and powerful fire nozzles mounted in the floor at the “flipping part”.  When the jeep lands, four more floor nozzles in an L shape engulfs the doomed truck in flames while the truck itself is still on fire from the initial flip. The crew of the show uses fake fire extinguishers to “put out the flames” and all that smoke is used to cover up for the door and thus, maintaining the illusion that it was the same jeep and that Marion was on board.


Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (2)

In this picture, Indiana Jones is running toward the machine gun.  The truck has driven off the stage and Marion is going through the building to get in position.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (3)

The rigged truck right before the explosion.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (4)

The floor nozzles just went off, causing the giant flames.



The flipping truck and you can see the flames shooting off from the bottom.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (5)

The truck in mid flip.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (6)

The truck is almost fully engulfed in flames thanks to the floor nozzles.

The last scene moves most of the scenery away, revealing a hidden base in the desert for the Nazis. There is an ammo fuel dump in the middle, a machine gun post on the hill and a fueling depot on the far right. A Flying Wing aircraft has seemingly just landed and is marshaled in by a giant stunt actor playing the famous mechanic from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  In the movie, the Mechanic was played by wrestler/stuntman Pat Roach who holds the distinction of having appeared in all three movies in various roles.  As Pat Roach was 6’5 and in order to make the fight as mismatched as the one in the movie, the stuntmen in the show playing this role (as well as the Swordman in Act 2) have to be at least 6’2-6’3 and be as intimidating as possible. After the pilot has left, the crew goes back to their duty and Indy and Marion try to steal the plane. The soldier on the hill surprise them, causing Marion to be stuck in the plane and Indy being forced to engage in a desperate fight with the Mechanic, who out powers him easily.

Now, the plane was marshalled (airport speak for guiding an approaching airplane to its parking spot) in a precise spot, as its left wheel is in a rotating platform that causes it to start spinning counter clockwise. When the soldier shoots his machine gun at Indy, Marion shoots back, thus causing the fuel depot to explode. Propane fire and pyrotechnic pieces are used for this explosion along with debris that is mounted on air cannons and shoots high in the sky. At the same time, the spinning airplane break a gas pipe on the truck parked at the fuel depot, causing a leak.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Daytime (1)

The three nozzles on the right are hidden in barrels and you can see the left big nozzle shooting off.  You can also see the fireworks shooting up.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (7)

This look even more incredible at night.


The ammunition dump exploding.  The left portion has two big nozzles on each side of the fake shells with 3 smaller nozzles in the middle, thus giving an irregular explosion similar to what a real ammunition explosion would look like.


The fight goes on, with the ammo dump still on fire in the background.  The left fire goes out and the nozzles are recharged in propane for the final explosions.  The ones on the right keep burning.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (8)

The plane spinning and the fight raging on around it.

After the Mechanic meet his demise after getting surprised by the plane propeller, the fire spreads to the gas leak and start racing toward the fuel depot. Indy and Marion make their daring escape just in time as seemingly, half the stage explodes in a huge fireball.


The mechanic goes down a trap door as smoke come out of the airplane engine to hide his dissapearance.


The gas leak that catches fire is created by projecting a smaller flame at a small water trough.  The bottom of the water trough has small propane nozzles and the gas catch fire once it bubbles out of the water.  Since the initial flame is not very impressive, a downward barrel shoots off a huge fireball and to the crowd, this is what causes the “gas leak” to catch fire.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (9)

The fire is starting to run toward the fuel truck.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (10)

Halfway through, Indiana Jones is trying to open the cockpit window that keep Marion prisoner.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (11)

He finally shoots the lock off and him and Marion jump off the plane, leaping over the wall of fire and running away from the plane.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Daytime (4)

The full wall of fire.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Daytime (5)

The Fuel truck on the right shoots off fireworks in addition to two fire from two nozzles on its back and two on the bottom.


Part of the show final explosion.  The explosion behind the plane is created by having 6 fire nozzles hidden in the floor like for the jeep. There is also fireworks shot at the same time and since blowing up the aircraft like in the movie was not practical here, this is a good compromise.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (1)

The final explosion at night.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Night (12)

We strongly advise our readers who want to experience this show to catch a perfomance at night.  It makes the explosions a lot more intense visually.

The show can still go on in case of inclement weather or technical difficulties, but some parts may be altered.  For example, when it is raining hard, the first act in the Temple will go on as normal and the show proceed until we get to the rooftops in act 2.  Due to the slippery conditions, the pole fall and other high falls are not safe, so Marion will go “medieval” and repeatedly punch a hapless henchman on the roof until the Director screams CUT!  We then go to the punching demonstration with the planted extra (normally used as a break between Act 2 and 3 while they change the set configuration) and the scene resume with the Swordman confrontation.  The show then ends with the exploding truck so that the crowd still see an impressive explosion at the end.

In act 3, if the fire wall effect cuts off before it reaches the fuel truck, a soldier on the damaged truck will shoot his machine gun at the plane, causing it to explode along with the fuel truck and what’s left of the ammo dump.  If the trap door for the Mechanic doesn’t work, he will move in another position and after knocking Indy to the ground, will get shot by Marion’s machine gun.

In 1990, to promote the new Dick Tracy movie, a staged event was added for a short period of time to the Backstage Tour at the Disney MGM Studios.  A side street of the New York Street set on the backlot was repainted in flashy colors in order to fit the unique Dick Tracy universe. A few shows were possible, but one implicated a gangster burning down a police car next to the police station. The hood of the car was open and fire came out of the engine compartment.

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