Epcot’s Fountain of Nations
The Fountain of Nations is a large, tiered, oval-shaped fountain that sits between the Future World and World Showcase sections of the park and has been there since opening day in 1982.
On Oct 24th of that year twenty-five bodies of water representing twenty-nine nations were poured into the fountain during the International Ceremony of the Waters dedication.
Card Walker, the then CEO of Walt Disney Productions said in his dedication speech:
“Joining us around this magnificent fountain are representatives of nations from around the world. They have brought with them waters from the great oceans, the seas, the rivers, and the lakes on our planet, spaceship earth. These waters will flow together as a symbol of the oneness of humankind and the hope for peace among nations, making this truly a fountain of world friendship.”
International Ceremony of the Waters. Oct 24th 1982
Then 1993 came along. 1993 was notable in the World of Disney for a few reasons. The first is that 1993 was the last year that Epcot was known as Epcot Center. In 1994 Epcot’s name was changed to Epcot 94. And in 1995 it was changed to Epcot 95.
And there was something else going on in 1993; Tokyo Disneyland celebrated its 10th anniversary. This is important to our fountain story because for this anniversary they launched a new daytime castle stage show called, It’s Magical with it’s theme “Join In.”
So the story for It’s Magical is pretty standard Disney fare. Everyone is happy and they’re basically celebrating color. Until of course, someone bad shows up, in this case Maleficent, to ruin their good time and she takes their color away until Mickey saves the color by dispatching Maleficent.
Back over in Orlando they were gearing up for Epcot ’94 and a new show was conceived for the Fountain of Nations requiring a major refurbishment. This refurbishment added a stage and 304 nozzles and water shooters that can send water 150 feet high in a coordinated water and light show. This show would be called, Splashtacular.
So this show basically lifts Tokyo’s stage show almost in its entirety with a notable exception in t
he middle. Maleficent is no longer the villain at Epcot. Instead, a nefarious alien sorceress whose home planet has been robbed of its color, comes to Epcot to steal their color. And in order to ward off Mickey’s Future World Guard and steal their color,she creates an alien monster called TerrorsauX, which is a large skeleton like thing with a dinosaur head, exposed metal ribs, and the ability to shoot fireworks from its chest before being tucked back away behind the bushes next to Innoventions from whence it came.
Well, it doesn’t take long for Mickey to figure out that he must defeat this evil alien and her half dinosaur, half crane henchman and he of course gets the job done.
Splashtacular didn’t last very long – only a few months into Epcot 94 in fact. Epcot spokeswoman Pam Brandon said in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel that “The theme of the Splashtacular is not appropriate for Innoventions” and Splashtacular was closed soon thereafter.
But that’s not where the story ends for the Fountain of Nations. It’s still equipped with new fountain technology. It took 3 months to program the seven songs that would make up the Fountain of Nations water ballet that perform randomly every 15 minutes. At night the dancing waters are illuminated by 1068 colorful lights.
Disney drew on several different sources for the song selections that make up the Fountain’s water ballets. The first three pieces of audio came from the early 1990s Disney features The Rocketeer, The Rescuers Down Under, and Iron Will.
The music used from the Rescuers Soundtrack is the “End Credits” track and was composed by Bruce Broughton. Bruce Broughton is also famous to Disney fans for having composed the audio to the 2008 version of Spaceship Earth as well as having adapted the theme for the updated Soarin’ Around the World attraction.
Composer Joel McNeeley provides us with our next track, the Main Theme from Disney’s 1994 movie, Iron Will. McNeeley is also no stranger to Disney having composed the soundtracks to Mulan 2, Return to Neverland, and also the Disneyland Paris 20th anniversary spectacular Disney Dreams.
We finish up the soundtracks portion of the pieces with James Horner’s track, “The Flying Circus” from the movie, The Rocketeer.
For the next two pieces Disney went new age. The first of these two new age tracks is the inspiring piece “Day One”, written by new age instrumental composer and 80’s TV personality, John Tesh.
For the second of the two New Age tracks that make up the fountain show, we look no further than venerable new age instrumental composer, greek-born Yanni and his track “Acroyali/Standing in Motion” from his highly-acclaimed 1994 album Yanni Live at the Acropolis. This track is not only famous for having been on yanni’s quadruple platinum acropolis album, but was also determined by the Royal Society of Medicine to have the Mozart effect – a set of research results indicating that listening to Mozart’s music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as “spacial-temporal reasoning.”
The next piece we’re going to talk about is a track from a show that belonged to an Epcot show that never actually ended up being produced. The show was originally intended to be for the area near the fountains. Sadly we don’t know who the composer for this track was, but happily though its original show never happened, it lives on for our enjoyment at Epcot’s fountain of nations. The track is called “Mickey’s Finale.”
Finally, for the last of the original seven tracks that make up the fountain show we have a track by the charismatic, daring, intellectual, well-bred, the courteous, the witty, John Debney. The track “Air battle” was from a daytime show scored by Debney that took place over Epcot’s World Showcase in 1991 called Surprise in the Skies.
Those were the original seven but more recently Disney has added another song to the rotation called “Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand.” This piece served as the anthem to the resort’s 2000 Millennium Celebration and was composed by Cheryl Berman and Ira Antelis.
There’s one more place to hear great music at Epcot’s Fountain of Nations, and that was at the neighboring Fountain View Ice Cream Parlour. The music for this loop drew heavily on 1980s New Age music from artists such as Checkfield, David Benoit, and Patrick O’Hearn.
But there’s one artist with the most tracks sampled for this loop and that is our dear friend, that revered, the respected, the venerable, Yanni with his tracks “Paths on Water”, “Sand Dance”, “Swept Away”, and “Within Attraction.”
The Fountains design is owing to Mark Fuller, a civil engineer working for Disney in the 1980s who later went on to start a company called WET design. If you aren’t familiar with WET Design’s other work, look no further than the famous, dazzling aquatic display in Las Vegas at The Fountains of Bellagio.
Here’s the Episode of EarzUp where I told all about the Fountain of Nations!