Since the official opening of Walt Disney Worlds “Fantasyland Expansion” on 12/6/12, Walt Disney World has been in a frantic state of flux since. As any Disneyphile knows, Walt always wanted his park to grow and offer new venues for his guests. This edict continues today as major changes to the World have been completed (Pandora, World of Avatar, Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Storyland) and more and exciting storytelling experiences still await…” Guarding of the Galaxy Roller Coaster, the new “Neighborhoods” in EPCOT, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad, the New “Skyliner Transportation system, new eateries, shows, fireworks and plays. You get the picture.
Regrettably, in order to make way for the new, some old friends must go. We all remember the outcry when Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride left Fantasyland, and recall the fear that mounted when Disney announced changes to Pirates of the Caribbean and the queue of the Haunted Mansion. Many traditionalists, myself included, fear losing a classic piece of Walt’s world, but on the whole, Disney did not disappoint. There are many classic attractions I believe will endure forever. I trust Disney and the Imagineers to keep the magic coming. This piece is about another cherished, and maybe you could not ride it, attraction taking a hit for the team. EPCOT’S “Fountain of Nations” now being dismantled for future EPCOT improvements. He is the story of this remarkable and beautiful fountain that, at least for me has been the “Heart” of what EPCOT is all about…
EPCOT’S Fountain of Nations has been called many different names since its opening ceremonies commenced on October 24th, 1982… The monikers include…Innoventions Fountain, CommuniCore Fountain or the Fountain of World Friendship. But whatever label you give it, it always has been an inspiration and source of joy to all who encountered it.
This is not just a fountain is the sense it spouts water and is cool and refreshing to look at, it is a technological marvel. For every 15 minutes, it presented 7 different sequences of water displays choreographed to seven musical pieces…” Standing in Motion” by Yanni. Main title from Disney’s “Iron Will”. “Air Battle” from a former EPCOT show, Surprise in the Skies. A selection from the “Rocketeer”. “Day One”, by composer John Tesh. A selection from the “Rescuers Down Under and “Mickey’s Finale” from a projected show Around the World with Mickey Mouse. There are over 200 special water jets spouting water over 150 feet in the air. Disney actually measured the wind speed on blustery days so to control the water so not to wet the guests.
This marvel of technology utilizes over 35 miles of wire in its complex computer controlled systems. And you will notice that this fountain, alike all water fountains, pools and attraction waterways, the water is crystal clear and clean, because of the bromine tables used. And like all water areas, the coins collected in these are donated by Disney to local charities. It took over 3 months of programming to sequence the water and music to perform together. The fountain contains over 150 thousand gallons of water, which the pumps pushing approximately 30 thousand gallons of water a minute. In addition, over 1000 colored LED’s bath the fountain at night.
Similar to the utilidoors in the Magic Kingdom, underneath the fountain is a large work area, with a workshop and areas that contain the pumps and computer controls. There is also an area that has lifts below the stage for equipment and performers. Like the Magic Kingdom, the work area was constructed first, then the fountain built over. But despite all the high-tech, Disney never planned a way to get new equipment down in the area.
But despite all the aforementioned, the shining glory for the fountain was is its dedication ceremony…The ceremony on Sunday, October 24th, 1982 commenced exactly at 11:00am. The Grand Opening Dedication Ceremonies were heralded by double Westminster chimes. Following the chimes were a four hundred and fifty piece All American Marching Band, picked by Walt Disney World comprised from 146 colleges. The West Point Glee Club and 16 herald trumpeters and six drummers soon followed. In addition to over four thousand guests, foreign and American political figures, corporate executives and other VIP’s, Walt Disney Productions Executives Card Walker and Donn Tatum were accompanied by Walt’s widow, Lillian Disney. A special flag raising ceremony was even more distinct because a gift of the American Flag that flew over the White House, from President Ronald Regan.
The ceremony to follow was called the “International Ceremony of the Waters” This type of ceremony was held before on Disney Property when on May 28th, 1966 the iconic “It’s a Small World” attraction was dedicated in Disneyland. Over 10,000 balloons, 1500 foreign dignitaries and 500 costumed children gathered to see one liter of water from each of the 100 countries represented being poured into the attraction flume. As in the It’s a Small World dedication, International performing groups encircled the then known CommuniCore Fountain and one by one poured a flagon of water from their countries into the fountain. This water was unique to each country and was kept under tight security so as the veracity of that water could be verified from the 23 Countries attending. This was to denote the “International Understanding and Cooperation” that EPCOT stood for. The countries represented pouring urns into the fountain were Denmark, Canada, Africa, Japan, Italy, Korea, Morocco Colombia, Egypt, Barbados, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Philippines, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Finland Spain, Germany, Yugoslavia, U.K. and Switzerland.
These festivities were being planned almost 4 years’ prior, and the last minute to minute details beginning in March, 1982. All in all, over 20 different committees were convened in the creation of the Dedication ceremonies, the design of the invitations, talent transportation and much more.
Then Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Productions, Card Walker stepped to the dais and gave this inspiring speech…” It is a great thrill, rally a wonderful thrill. Lilly, thanks for being with us. 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.
“And now it is my great pleasure to read the bronze plaque officially dedicating EPCOT center. I’ll read it right here…” To all who come to this place of joy, hope, and friendship, welcome. EPCOT center is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here human achievements are celebrated through imagination, the wonders of enterprise, and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all. May EPCOT center entertain, inform, and inspire, and above all may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world. “Thank You”.
On Monday October 1st, 2007, EPCOT held an official re dedication ceremony at the “Fountain of Nations Plaza” Attending this ceremony was Marty Skilar, Disney Imagineer. Skilar, remembering that opening month of EPCOT mused…” One of the things I remember the most was a water pouring ceremony to start the CommuniCore fountain behind us. Don’t you think it would be wonderful if we could do something like that today?
Next to address the gathering was Tracy Wui, the Re dedication Ceremony Hostess. She said…” Today we have the incredible privilege of having our own cultural representatives right here at EPCOT. It’s time to meet the representatives of the countries of World Showcase. Each representative carried the banners of the World Showcase pavilions…Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Each representative’ the name of the container and body of water it contained was announced and each one poured the water into the fountain…
So will all the history and pomp, this landmark icon, and for many thousands of EPCOT guests, a meeting place, will be a memory. However, it will still reverberate forever as the focal point of EPCOT’s meaning and goals. And of Walt’ vision. The hope of peace on Spaceship Earth will never dim as long as the remembrance of this tranquil and beautiful fountain remains in our hearts…