When you Google “dancing fountains,” three locations pop up on the first page: the fountains outside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, and the Epcot fountain in Orlando. Dancing fountains, while amazing to watch, are hard to produce: Between the timing of the fountains, the propulsion of the shooters, and the thousands of gallons of water, it takes a long time to make it just right.
In Epcot, the Fountain of Nations was created in the first year of the park’s existence, and still delights the tens of thousands of people that view the fountains at work each day. Every 15 minutes the normal Epcot AtMousePhere audio fades out in the area near the fountain and new music takes its place. The music itself syncs with the shots of water that fly through the air and the graceful arcs of water from the nozzles.
For more information on the structure of the fountain and the water needed, take a look at this fantastic article from AllEars.net. But for our purposes today, we’ll take a look at the music itself, like these great pieces!
Video courtesy of our friends at Attractions Magazine.
Selections from The Rocketeer – James Horner
The Fountain of Nations happened to be refurbished in 1993, and much of the music heard is like a time capsule from that era. The Rocketeer was released in 1991 and had a soundtrack perfect for the dancing fountains.
Standing in Motion – Yanni
What I love about Epcot that it’s not afraid to move away from things that are “strictly Disney” and branch out a bit. “Standing in Motion” was composed and released in 1993. While many people think of Yanni as a New Age punchline nowadays, this piece really shows what an incredible composer and performer he is.
This is my favorite selection, hands down and it’s not because of the Fountain of Nations, either! I remember watching The Rescuers Down Under in the theater, and that opening camera shot racing through the Australian Outback and the driving percussion and brass really got me hooked. When I was able to see it in Epcot with the fountains and then find the piece later, I was more than elated! I love that the selection ranges from the powerful beginning to the soft theme for Marahute (the eagle) and her eggs to the triumphant flight. This knocks it out of the park.
Air Battle from Surprise in the Skies – John Debney
Surprise in the Skies was a daytime water show that used to be performed at Epcot (at that time, EPCOT Center). It premiered in 1991 and was held in World Showcase Lagoon. It featured boats and paraplanes and Disney characters and songs with a patriotic medley at the end. It only lasted till 1992, but the “Air Battle” sequence still lives on today. (You can read more about the show itself here.)
Day One – John Tesh
This song was released in 1988 as part of Tesh’s Tour de France album. The New Age feel is very similar to Yanni’s “Standing in Motion.”
Selections from Iron Will – Joel McNeely
This is probably the first piece I remember hearing when watching the dancing fountains. There are a few moments in the selections where the strings get higher and higher and higher, and the fountains were programmed to mimic that perfectly. This is probably the one that I think is programmed best out of all the songs used. Iron Will was released in 1994.
Also seen in places as “Mickey’s Show,” this piece was from a show that never actually made it to Epcot. This shouldn’t be confused with the “Around the World with Mickey Mouse” that was in World Showcase, and that you can view on YouTube (which includes songs like “The Hello Song” and “La Bamba.”). This finale is definitely not along those lines. Much of the themes are new, but if you listen all the way to the end you can hear strains of “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand – Ira Antelis
This one was added during the Millenium Celebration and was based on the theme of the whole park for those 15 months (October 1999 through December 2000). I was in Epcot in 2000 and if you didn’t hear this song in some iteration, that was a huge accomplishment!
Many people (including myself) never seem to take the time to stop and hear the wonderful music and see the water jets shoot water into the sky. On your next trip, stop for a few minutes, put up your feet, and prepare to enjoy a magical piece of entertainment!
What is your favorite Fountain of Nations song? Have you ever heard that familiar boom of the water shooters and raced from your location to view the dancing fountains? What new songs should they add to the rotation? Comment below!