Indiana Jones Tank Restored from the Boneyard

I’ve never been fond of the boneyard aspect of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  A bunch of old movie vehicles rotting under the sun always depressed me.  It’s one thing when they’re just random street cars from some forgotten Disney Channel movie.  But it’s something else entirely when they’re iconic vehicles like the Indiana Jones tank from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Horizons vehicles in Backlot Tour Boneyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Sometimes they also torture old theme park icons.

The Indiana Jones tank is from the big battle between Indy and the Nazis in the middle of the desert.  You no doubt remember it as the second best of the Indy movies. And no, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is not the first.

I hated seeing this thing in the boneyard.  All the paint flaking off, bits and pieces falling off the side, gaping holes from armadillo burrows, weeds sprouting up everywhere. This isn’t movie magic. This is the graveyard of childhood.

This German tank will beat Indiana Jones to the holy grail.
The Indiana Jones tank as seen in the movie. Note the pristine turret on the right. This tank is in top fighting order. The only thing that could defeat it is an archeologist with a rock.

After a year or so, some bright young member of the Disney-MGM Studios staff discovered an entire stunt show at the park that happened to feature Indiana Jones.  They put two and two together, and before long, the tank had moved from the Boneyard to the exit of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, where it posed in menacing firing formation, surrounded by oil drums.

Rusted out Indiana Jones tank prop at Disney's Hollywood Studios
The average lawn ornament in some Southern town.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s probably because you exited the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular on the right rather than the left.  The tank is very close to the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost shop.  The only downside is that aside from the new pose, the tank looked exactly the same as when it was in the Boneyard.  Which is to say, rusted over and falling apart, with rubber treads decaying like a zombie muppet.

Today I’m happy to report that the entire Indiana Jones tank and its surrounding area have been completely refurbished.

Refurbished Indiana Jones tank outside the Hollywood Studios stunt spectacular
As Belloq might say: “It’s beautiful!” Aside from that right turret. Kids, before firing your tank, please make sure somebody has not jammed a rock in the barrel.

No sign of rust anywhere.  It has also gained several battle props, including a new machine gun nest.

German machine gun nest outside Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
It’s either a machine gun nest or a very elaborate mouse trap.

It looks really great, and I am simply thrilled that they actually devoted the time to cleaning this up, as opposed to passing it off as a “real” movie prop.

Indiana Jones tank at Disney's Hollywood Studios
It still cracks me up that Disney will go to great lengths to duplicate the German insignia, yet stop four lines short of drawing an offensive symbol.

Photo Attribution: Original tank image provided by Kevin Eddy via Flickr.

Comments (26)

  1. Wow, what a fantastic post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Indiana Jones and Boneyard Tank experience. The level of detail and historical background you provided truly brought the attraction to life. It’s incredible how Disney manages to immerse visitors in such a thrilling adventure. Thank you for sharing, it’s always a pleasure to come across well-written and informative articles like this. Keep up the great work! Cheers, Martin Williamson.

  2. I stopped by today to check out the tank even though the show has been shut down for a while now. While you say in the article that there are no signs of rust you can actually see large rust holes underneath the side turrets in your photos. Those holes are still there and have now really started to corrode and flake off the paint. With all the ports open and obvious spots where they just painted over corrosion; this tank won’t have too much time left before it’s rusted beyond repair. I really wish they’d just sell it to someone who will preserve it.

    • Anything exposed to Florida sun and rain for any extended period of time is going to decay. It has been quite a number of years since this article was written, so I’m sure it’s well on its way back to its rusted form.

  3. They should have placed it in Bovington Tank Museum, they would take really good care of the Tank and even drive it around for Tiger day

    • I guess they thought it would be better rotting away in a theme park.

      • This is the Mark VIII they have currently at Bovington Tank Museum. The tracks look different to the one used in Indiana Jones.

    • It isn’t a real mkviii it is made from an excavator

    • Its not a real tank .. its a replica made from an excavator. That is why it is not in a tank museum.

  4. The tank from Indiana Jones belonged to the Turkish Sultan, Sooo… It shouldn’t have a swastika on it.

    • It doesn’t, but that dark box in front has the German Nazi logo (?) on it, with the eagle holding the circle with the swastika in it. Also that tank is based on a British/US design called the Mark VIII

    • It’s owned by the Germans, under command of Ernst Vogel. He traded the Sultan of Hatay his Rolls Royce Phantom II staff car in order to get the possession of the tank. In the movie, you see the red eight-pointed star on the green background of the flag, and there are no Nazi symbols on the tank. Even the operators, such as the driver or the gunner, are of Turkish descent. The boxes have swastikas on them because like I said, the tank is owned by the Nazis.

  5. Now, some young person, seeing that “x” under the German eagle, will think: “That must be the offensive symbol used by the Germans in WWII; so why is that same offensive symbol being used every time I want to close out something?”

  6. My Father and I had a personal hand in the Production of this Tank.
    we were sub contractors to a sub contractor for Gibbs.
    I personally laid out the pattern on the concrete floor of our work shop the top turret.
    Which I then proceeded to make the frame for.
    It was good to find this article, brought back fond memories.
    by the way the company that was sub contract was Stevend and we were Lightwaite Fabrications.

    • That’s fantastic! That’s a cool personal story. How awesome to have your work end up in a Disney theme park!

    • Hi Lee
      I don’t suppose that you happen to have or know anyone who has the build plans for this tank.



  7. See following link for more information about the construction and use of this tank during filming. The design is based on the Anglo American Mk.VIII Liberty or International from the First World War era

    • Whoever wrote this knows less than nothing about tanks. Every historical reference made is wrong. But, in terms of how this imaginary vehicle came about it’s still an interesting read.

  8. Is the tank real?

  9. @Katie, thanks! If we can’t obsess over a random tank hidden in a forgotten corner of WDW, what will we be left with? Hidden Mickeys? Ugh.

  10. This is exactly why I read this blog. An entire, in-depth post on something that NO ONE ELSE seemingly cares about. These details are pretty much all my friend and I look at in the parks.

  11. Thanks.. To give credit though the root of that came from and old WW2 vet.

  12. And Phil is the runaway winner of this week’s Pun Award! I love it.

  13. What detail, even the netting is tied into little knottsies.

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