Indiana Jones was such a great theme to work with and it was my sons favorite party yet. We used a lot of scene ideas from the movie but our main inspiration for this party was from the Lego wii game and Lego DS game.
So our adventure began about three months before the party, saving large appliance and furniture boxes to create the backdrops and the catacombs. I had 12 large boxes that I cut windows and door ways to create tunnels that dead-end and space that they had to get really low to crawl through. I marked the boxes with a letter system so that once they were mapped out, I could take them down and stack in garage for storage over the next few months.
My next project became the temple of doom prop. This also started from a large box, which I cut out to make one really large piece of flat cardboard to work with.
I sketched out a large skull that would be large enough to cover the entrance of the tunnels and marked out the eyes and the lower half of the skull I ripped below the nose to look like an ancient ruin. I covered the eye holes with shiny red cellophane and then painted the skull to look old and dirty then covered with cobb webs and spiders.
I attached cardboard columns that I painted the same way and drilled them into the wood structure for support. The final touches were hand-made torches that I made to look like wood, tissue paper flames and a blinking reflector light that I hid in the top to flash in the dark ~ it really looked like flames.
Once this was assembled I stored it away as well and began work on the secret entrance. This was also a large refrigerator box that I split at the seam and created one long surface that covered the entire entrance to my garage opening. I cut a small door in the middle and covered the entire outside surface with hand painted paper grocery and lunch bags. I painted the bags with brown, dark army green and gold then smudged and crumbled up the paper so it looked like rocks. I used a stapler to attach it to the cardboard surface. I had a tall palm tree that I painted the surface and tucked in wooden skulls along the bottom. This was the entrance to the lagoon/jungle area and once the door was closed it set the tone of the party as guests arrived.
The final hand painted prop that I did was the jungle / lagoon area. This was two refrigerator boxes that I painted separately then attached with zip ties. The scenes closed off the inside to this garage and didn’t allow access behind it ~ therefore creating a darker and smaller jungle area.
I painted more rocks as I did before and then I took another large palm tree and added flowers and jungle life to the scene as well. I had more skulls laying along the bottom and then the second scene that was attached was a water fall that was three-dimensional and cascaded down the wall. I used packing material and painted it different shades of blue and it looked great ~ side note the paint does flake off. I took lots of green streamers and hung them from the ceiling to the floor in different heights to make it feel like vines.
Along the left wall I made a hieroglyphic map with different symbols and I presented in a scroll like fashion. There were eight tiles and then I had eight corresponding tiles that were placed on the floor. As in the movie and game, Indiana had to translate the symbols in order to get access into the cave. The kids had to translate the symbol into my son’s name to move onto the next challenge. I printed the symbols out on khaki paper and used grocery bags, crumbled up and a long bamboo stick and twine to hang it on the back side of the secret entrance.
There are so many components to this party that I hand made myself and once the large pieces were out-of-the-way I was able to get my kids involved with the rest of the party preparations.
The next thing that I did was the goody bag that was inspired by Dr. Jones himself. I want the kids to have an out fit that would resemble the main character and so I found black canvas totes at Michael’s and I cut the handles, burned the edges so they would not frey and then sewed the ends together to make one long strap so the kids could wear it across their body. I then used a sponge and muddy brown paint and sponged the paint on both sides of bag to make it look dirty and worn.
My son loved helping with this project. These were presented to the kids as they arrived along with an Indiana Jones hat~ found at Michael’s and a hand-made map laying out the obstacle adventure course for the party.
My son also helped to paint the paper swords that are shown above. I found these at the dollar store and wanted the kids to have a machete like sword when traveling through the jungle and these were perfect. I also found compasses at the dollar store to put in their bags to find their way.
Another project that I needed to work on were the custom maps. These were a lot of fun to make and follow the movie to a T. I found scrap-book paper at Michael’s that had map, globe and airplane graphics ~ which saved me time in having to print it off the computer.
I then crumbled the paper really well and then burned the edges to give it that old look. Since I had to put the flames out anyway I submerged the paper in water and then let it sit in sun to dry ~ you do not want it to wet or it will break apart. Once it was dry I then marked out the party with red marker and had four points of interest. Since most kids couldn’t read yet I used a picture at each point on the map and a number next to it. They looked great and the kids had no problem figuring it out. I did do one large map in the same technique to put on the main table ~ Indiana’s desk in his cabana ~ were the party starts.
The next thing that my son wanted at his party was the giant boulder. Well you must have a bolder when you think of Indiana Jones. So I got to work on creating a big boulder that would roll after the kids during the obstacle course.
I took a large paper lantern ~ found at Pottery Barn Teen ~ and covered it with newspaper, brown lunch bags and liquid starch. My kids loved this project and it was something they could easily do. I had previously made grey/green paint and once the paper had dried, we sponged the paint on to make it look like a rock appearance. This ball took a couple of days to make because it needed to dry really well and then the painting time as well. The finished product was super durable and looked great.
The final item that needed to be prepared for this party was the spit guns and Mala Ram target for the obstacle course. I originally saw this on Roots & Wingsco blogspot site and had to do it for our party. I took one character, Mala Ram, and drew his silhouette onto construction paper and then transferred him onto black felt. I made the accents with red felt for the area that the poison darts needed to hit. This target was then attached to the tree in our backyard so the kids could easily access it when doing the task.
The next step was to make the spit guns and this was really not difficult, just a bit of time. I went and got pvc piping and cut them down to 12″ each and covered them in green duck tape ~ so they looked like a vine tube. The poison dart was a green nurf target with Velcro on the ends ~ I found these at Wal-Mart. The game was now complete to put up for out guests. The dart is placed all the way down into the tube and the pipe is held up to your mouth and the kids blow the dart toward Mala Rams chest.
Well the preparations for the party have been completed and now it is time to re-group before the party day. I gathered all of the other accessories that I needed for this party such as burlap, tan canvas fabric scraps, crates, buckets and card board boxes that I made to look like crates of explosives ~ which I placed at the bottom of our drive way to mark the party entrance. We also have an electronic jeep and I used this for kids to take their picture in.
The work is all done and now it is time to put the party together for the kids. I started the day before assembling the catacombs in one garage and decorated the inside of the boxes with cob webs, spiders, glow in the dark skeletons, there was a snake pit and a room full of treasure in a chest. In the other garage I transformed it into a secret entrance and the jungle area. The cabana was put up the day of the party and all the last-minute touches were complete about an hour before the kids arrived ~
Please see the entire party layout in Part Two:
The Indiana Jones Adventure Party ~ Let the Crusade Begin.