Every great film has that moment – the one that burns permanently into the mind’s eye of all who see the film (and even those who don’t).  For the Indiana Jones franchise, that moment is when Indy is being “chased” by the rolling boulder.

Image: Disney

Fans of Indiana Jones can see this moment recreated during the Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney Hollywood Studios.

Indy fans can also live this moment for themselves in Disneyland riding Indiana Jones – Temple of the Forbidden Eye, where your transport vehicle gets chased by that iconic boulder.  Or does it?

Image: Disney

Did you know, the Temple of the Forbidden Eye is literally playing tricks on your eyes. The ominous (and perfectly round) boulder is not actually chasing guests. In reality, the boulder is not even rolling at all.  It is maintained in a stationary location, simply spinning in place. Likewise, the vehicle you are fleeing in is not actually driving away – it stays in place as well (though it may jostle around a bit).

Image: Disney

The tunnel wall from which the boulder rolls is actually receding from guests – backing away to give the appearance that guest vehicles are fleeing in retreat. The boulder – while it isn’t rolling – is slowly lowered while spinning, giving the appearance that it is rolling downhill and right toward you! Well done Imagineers! 

I rode this attraction for the first time in February 2020, and never even noticed this trick on my perception. I only learned of it while listening to Imagineer Podcast.

This two-part episode on Disney Illusions was released in August 2020. Podcast host Matt Krul and his guests discuss many of our favorite illusions (and some you may not know about). Give these podcast episodes a listen, it’s a fascinating discussion!

And if you want to learn about more of Disney’s illusions, check out my Illusions of Fantasy series. It dives into many tricks on the senses from Disney films and parks.

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