It’s no secret we are massive Indiana Jones fans. We dress as Indiana Jones for Halloween. We have Indiana Jones posters hanging above our beds. And we might have even designed our website logo in Indiana Jones font.
Recently, new Indiana Jones posters appeared as travel ads at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was all done under the guise of a temporary bar overlay called Den of Destiny. Which was itself a promotional opportunity for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. For those of you keeping score at home, this is now the second Indiana Jones bar, next to Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar at Disney Springs.
But forget the bar. We are much more interested in the posters. At first glance, there is nothing obviously “Indy” about them. They seem to just be standard travel advertisements for distant and exotic ports-of-call.
Strangely, there is no mention of Disney Vacation Club.
But even casual Indiana Jones fans should be savvy enough to recognize that these are actually tributes to the three original Indiana Jones movies from the 1980s. Or as we call them, the best ones.
For those of us who keep a grail diary at our bedside, the tributes run deep. Here’s what we spotted.
Cairo from Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cairo isn’t the actual resting place of the lost Ark of the Covenant. But it is Lost-Ark-adjacent. This is the only Indiana Jones poster of a city that is actually pretty well known today. We still think they missed the mark by not making Tanis the destination.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is our favorite Indiana Jones movie. Unfortunately, this is the least interesting poster. The prominent Sphinx and pyramids don’t appear in the movie. The hidden references at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are limited to one specific callback, and a handful of indirect references.
The tagline “City of the Living” is a direct reference to a line of dialogue in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy’s friend Sallah proclaims Cairo to be the “City of the Living, a paradise on Earth.” In reality, Cairo is actually more well-known by the name “City of the Dead,” due to its famous necropolis and all the tombs in the Valley of Kings.
The plane in the poster seems like a nod to Jock Lindsey’s plane in the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, Jock’s plane was a sea plane, and this one has wheels. It actually looks much closer to the German single-prop airplane used by Indy and Henry Jones, Sr. in their escape from the airship in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Minus the machine gun turret, of course.
Last but not least, there are shadowy figures on the ridge. Perhaps one is Indy’s white horse. Or they could be diggers, ready to open the Well of Souls. The detail is too rough to make out.
Iskenderun, Republic of Hatay from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Yes, we skipped over Temple of Doom. That’s because it’s the best, and we’re saving it for last.
First there’s the obvious skyline shot, lifted directly from the movie. Hatay was (briefly) a real country, though the movie version is highly fictionalized. Iskenderun sits on or near the real-life location of Alexandretta. And Iskenderun is where Marcus Brody gets himself kidnapped while trying to enlist Sallah’s help in the search for the Holy Grail.
The plane on this Indiana Jones poster is much closer to the one appearing in the film. However, Indy and Marcus Brody used that plane as transport from America to Venice, not to Iskenderun.
But the real inside joke is the travel poster’s tagline: “Choose wisely. Fly there.”
“Choose wisely” is of course an instruction from the last knight of the First Crusade, who stood watch over the Holy Grail in a temple deep within the borders of the Republic of Hatay. According to the knight, the real Grail will bring you life, but the false Grail will take it from you.
Indiana Jones chooses wisely. Walter Donovan, on the other hand, does not.
The clincher for this Indiana Jones poster is a detail so subtle you almost miss it. The logo for the Office of Hatay Tourism Council. That fancy little cross emblem is none other than the insignia tattooed on the chests of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword. They swear to protect the Holy Grail at all costs.
Pankot Province from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Travel by elephant through a mostly fictionalized version of India — Just like Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Short Round did in the movie. And be menaced by crocodiles.
There you will encounter the beautiful Pankot Palace, seen in glorious detail just as it appeared in the film. Pankot seems remote, but the Maharajah clearly went all out in building a castle to hide the cavernous Temple of Doom beneath.
See the flock of birds flying above the palace? As Indy explains to Willie, those aren’t birds, sweetheart. They’re giant vampire bats.
But our absolute favorite joke from all these posters is the tagline: “You’ll leave your heart in beautiful Pankot.”
As cliche as any travel poster can get, right? Except that when it comes to the Temple of Doom and the Thuggee cult led by Mola Ram, leaving your heart behind is a very real risk.