An Indiana Jones Land at Animal Kingdom: Yes, there is a heaven on earth–or rather–there soon will be


I love covering these more fun topics because there is a lot of very serious news out there.  But to me all this is connected whether we’re talking about business, politics, or entertainment—we are talking about culture building.  What makes human beings distinct and very unique in the universe is our vast imaginations.  Even if we were to meet intelligent life capable of working out the details of Type 1 or 2 Civilizations of interstellar travel I would put the human imagination up against anybody.  I see great promise for human potential in our arts, our literature, our religions, our buildings, sculptures, and paintings and I think over the next 1000 years we will become to be known as distinctly unique among all creation.  So I have no problem taking a moment to revere elements that I think are very special.  For me personally Walt Disney “the man” was the king and his vision for Disney World was magnificent.  The way he bought up all that property in Florida under a cloak of secrecy was brilliant and it’s starting to pay off big time 50 years later in the evolution of the human race.  Everyone who reads here knows how excited I am about the new Star Wars Land called Galaxy’s Edge that is coming to Hollywood Studios in 2019.  I’ve made no secret about what I think that does on a vast scale of art and human achievement—aside from just being a cool place to visit.  Well, rumor has it which has gained serious traction in mid-August 2017 that an Indiana Jones Land is being considered at Animal Kingdom and let me just say that for me that is jaw dropping exciting.   I may move there just to visit it every day—that news is that exciting to me.

To some, Indiana Jones is just four movies with a fifth one on the way that were fun throwbacks to a style of filmmaking that died in the 1950s.  They are still fun to watch and people generally like them.  They’ve certainly held up to the tests of time.  However, I would argue that Indiana Jones has been the single greatest contributor to science and the funding of sciences in the history of the world.  Because of Indiana Jones—I would argue—science went from a geeky academic pursuit and moved to a mainstream coolness that is largely funding the efforts of cable television to this very day.  Without Indiana Jones I don’t think Josh Gates would have any television shows on The Travel Channel.  I don’t think half the archeology which has really opened up our understanding of history would have happened especially the great work that English Heritage has done in Europe.  Indiana Jones made studying history cool and that has greatly benefited the entire human race in ways that are impossible to pin down.  If you interviewed most people in the history fields you’d find an Indian Jones fan deep in their hearts.

Even the History Channel’s popular show Ancient Aliens got a lot of its fuel for programming investment based on the premise of the last Indiana Jones film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.   So the footprint of Indiana Jones on the sciences in our culture is huge.   I grew up with those movies and it’s hard for me often to tell which I like more, Indiana Jones or Star Wars as products of Lucasfilm.   Indiana Jones suits me more on a personal level.  I love the character and the enthusiasm Indiana Jones has for life—he’s a wonderful invention from the mind of George Lucas and a real gift to our civilization.  I personally think Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest movie of all time—it’s better than Citizen Kane, it’s better than Casablanca, it’s better than Ben Hur.  It’s a technical masterpiece in every film making category and it justifiably deserves its place in history.

In the back of my mind I was hoping that under the Disney ownership of Lucasfilm that Indiana Jones would be elevated in their park presence.  For me the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios is worth the price of admission all by itself.  To have his own land similar to what is being done for Star Wars would be I think a magnificent endeavor that would spark the minds of many would-be scientists for decades to come.   Even better the chance to immerse yourself into an Indian Jones story is something a lot of people would enjoy.  I know I would.  The study of archaeology is a new science and there is a lot to yet uncover about our own past—and starting from a point of imagination—asking “what if” is the way to begin that productive process.

Having an Indiana Jones land at Animal Kingdom would without question ignite many of those young minds to a more serious career in the sciences by revering some of the fun that can happen in the world of adventure.  I’d be inclined just to go there to read books in that fantasy Indiana Jones environment.  Based on what Disney has done with Avatar and is doing with Toy Story, Cars, and now Star Wars—making an Indiana Jones land would dramatically enhance the goal of Animal Kingdom as an education platform attached to thrilling entertainment.   Indiana Jones may be a fictional character but he is the jumping off point for most people in understanding the reasons behind science.  I find the character and spirit of Indiana Jones to be remarkably optimistic and fun.  It is fun to learn new languages, it is fun to discover new things, and it is fun to always try to do something even if it doesn’t work out.  Indiana Jones isn’t always successful, but he does always try to be.  He’s a wonderful character.

IMG_5099.JPGI enjoyed Raiders of the Lost Ark so much as a kid that I bought and read The Egyptian Book of the Dead when I was 12 years old complete with hieroglyphics.   When I was 13 my grandmother gave me some really fantastic books, The Living Bible Encyclopedia in Story and Pictures which came in 16 volumes and were published in 1968.  They are real treasures before revisionism of history had really set in to contaminate such works.  I spent the next couple years reading them voluminously.  At 14 I was a member of the New York City club for rare books and prints.  They didn’t last very long, they didn’t make it out of the 80s, but I loved getting their catalog and sometimes saving up $200 in lawn mowing money to buy some rare book from a remote corner of the world—and reading it.  Nobody in public school convinced me that reading was important but once I saw Indiana Jones, reading became a huge part of my life and still is to this day.  Indiana Jones was smart and tough breaking the belief that you had to be one or the other and for me that made a life changing framework which still is a huge part of my life.  So having a real Indiana Jones world that you can walk around in and interact with would be tremendous to young minds waiting for a spark to ignite their imaginations.

More Indiana Jones in our culture would help it.  With that said, Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones.  But there have been other actors in the very good television show The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which I have all the DVD collection sets that use the character to tell the story of our history and they are real treasures.  There is a lot that Disney could do with Indiana Jones to inspire education in youth while telling fresh stories to keep the imaginations alive in all people no matter what their age.  Just the movies have done much of what we see today in scientific optimism.  I was at the Louvre in Paris a few months ago standing at the Mona Lisa and I joked to my daughter that we had first experienced that painting at that famous museum during an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as she was growing up.  That’s what we did as a family.  We watched Indiana Jones movies together and I certainly gave them the adventure bug because of it.  In fact today one of my son-in-laws is going on a cross-country motorcycle trip today and both of my daughters are going sky diving—and when they were all younger we watched  Indiana Jones movies and those Young Indy DVDs together—and they inspired them too.  Anyway, we’re at The Louvre talking about Indiana Jones and the Mona Lisa and an employee who was French and couldn’t speak a bit of English came over and spoke to us upon hearing the name, Indiana Jones.  Yes, he understood the show we were talking about, he had seen it and that was what inspired him to work at The Louvre and become interested in art.  We were able to communicate because we all mutually loved Indiana Jones.  That is the power of that kind of character and the marvelous opportunity that Disney has by putting an Indiana Jones land in their Animal Kingdom.  It would be sheer magic for me, but for many other people, it would be a place of inspiration and adventure.   I can’t freaking wait!

Rich Hoffman

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