Disney Performers Lift the Curtain on Epic Indiana Jones Stunts for Program Participants

Lights, camera, action! Picture this: the scene is “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and you’re one of our Disney Programs participants excited to get a peek behind the scenes of some movie magic. These “Discover Disney” events are a series of educational backstage tours and sessions just for participants on the program to learn more about how our parks and resorts create magic for guests. In this particular session, participants even heard from program alumnus Clifton, who went on to have a successful Disney career.  

Ready to learn more? Let’s get digging! 

Uncovering the Secrets of the Second Unit 

If you’ve seen “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!,” you know the show itself is a behind-the-scenes look at the magic of movie stunts. But program participants explored a whole new perspective of a set’s Second Unit! X marks the spot, and they were on the hunt for the ultimate hidden treasure: nuggets of knowledge from the cast and crew that make this show, well, spectacular. 

Did you know… 

  • …The boulder that chases Indiana Jones weighs 400 pounds and is made of rubber? 
  • …Indiana Jones has to change into a brand-new costume after every show because of the wear and tear? 
  • …The punji sticks that shoot out of the ground during the show are controlled by square sensors that are triggered depending on where Indiana Jones steps? 

You probably know Indiana Jones’ most iconic weapon is his bullwhip, but our participants discovered it’s no easy feat making his maneuvers look so seamless. Those stunt actors train for about three weeks to become proficient in the whip, and many performers have much more practice than that. The Indiana Jones stunt person performing at this Discover Disney event, Aaron, has been in the show for 16 years! Practice is truly the key here. The entire cast and crew go through hours of rehearsals to become masters at their craft.   

A lot of that time is spent rehearsing things that don’t go as planned. There are dozens of “contingencies”: no show is ever the same, and sometimes the performers need to make changes on the fly. Lighting Crew Chief Clifton Baxter explains, “We have a contingency in most shows we do, but most of the time they’re not noticeable to the audience.” That first scene alone — which features just Indiana Jones — has 12 possible contingencies. The performers form a backup plan for just about every possible scenario — and even learn how to improvise while staying in character. 

Passing the Torch to Disney Programs Participants 

Of course, our programs participants are true adventurers, and many are eager to step into the cast and crews’ boots. Luckily, the early-morning Discover Disney event included a Q&A panel that allowed participants to chat with industry experts! Clifton explained that the panel encourages participants to expand their skill sets to reach their career goals with The Walt Disney Company.  

Participants with industry-specific aspirations got into the nitty gritty: for example, Stage Manager Casey broke down how “calling the show” at “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” differs from a traditional theatrical production (spoiler: she’s really involved in enabling the effects for the stunt performers!). But attendees interested in all lines of business walked away with words of wisdom. Clifton emphasized the importance of education, a sentiment that was echoed by many other panelists. “Go finish your degree,” he urged participants who want to stay with the company after their program. “Disney will still be here.” He also highlighted the importance of networking. “Get to know anybody that works in or near the area that you want to make your way into. People seeing your face and getting to know you can go a long way.” 

One thing’s for sure: our programs participants left the event with a new excitement for their next Disney adventure! 

He Chose…An Exciting Career at Walt Disney World 

Clifton has a very special connection with our participants: he’s an alumnus of the program! “Being a former College Program [participant] and getting to grow in my Disney career, and getting to share what I’ve learned, hopefully encourages them to continue moving forward with their careers,” Clifton explains in a “pass the torch” moment.  

Having over a decade with The Walt Disney Company under his belt, Clifton got his start in the Disney College Program in Entertainment in 2008. In 2015, he became an entertainment technician. Since then, he’s made his way to “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!,” where he developed a love for both the show itself and its tight-knit team. 

After just one conversation with Clifton, it’s easy to see his passion for his job. “I’m a little biased, I really like the lighting,” he laughs. “Even though it’s a daytime show and you can’t really see a lot of them, when we get the opportunity to do nighttime shows the lighting in this rig just makes the whole set pop. That’s why I got in my career of choice and why I do what I do.” He’s so enthusiastic about his work that he hung back after the show to chat with a participant interested in the field.  

Just like Indiana Jones himself, Clifton says a day on the job is never dull. His newest project is updating the show from its conventional lighting to a more environmental LED-grade design. He’s excited to make the venue greener! And of course, he loves the “Discover Disney” learning opportunities. Giving participants the chance to peek behind the scenes at various roles helps them find the job that sparks that same excitement Clifton feels every day.  

Roll the Tape!  

For those participating in a Disney Program, the opportunity to take advantage of exclusive learning and development opportunities is one of the many things that make the experience so special.

As we get excited for the release of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” we could not be more thrilled to share this unique experience with our Disney Programs participants. Clifton loves that Indiana Jones and his iconic adventures are being “kept fresh and alive every day,” both at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on the red carpet.  

And speaking of the red carpet…learn more about “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” cast members Kevin and Michele, who recently had the adventure of a lifetime