Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dancing Waters, Disneyland Hotel - Sept. 1966

These photos are kind of a snooze, but I might as well post them anyway. For years, visitors to the Disneyland Hotel could watch a performance of "Dancing Waters"... colorful fountains synchronized to music.

This is way better than that "World of Color" over at DCA! Oooooo, orange.

The "Dancing Waters" show was discontinued sometime around 2007 (please correct me if I'm wrong), and the little amphitheater was razed in August of 2010 for the massive refurbishment of the Disneyland Hotel.


TokyoMagic! said...

I liked the Dancing Waters show at the hotel. I believe the show along with the plumbing and hardware came from a water show at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair. I may be in the minority here, but I would rather watch the old Dancing Waters show at the hotel instead of the new World of Color show at DCA.

Nancy said...

The very first evening we ever went to Disneyland we saw the Dancing Waters (I remember that we were so sleepy b/c of the three hour time difference from the East Coast) but it was beautiful. It's one of those fun extras you get as a Disney guest. :-)

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Hey it was cool an different in it's time. Times and technology change and improve. I remember being jazzed to get a 19" color tube tv and an HQ vcr for my first apartment. Now 80" flat screens in the home and live TV, movies and sports on your handheld device is commonplace.
Disney was and is always good at getting the oohs and aahs out of visual displays.

Anonymous said...

I greatly preferred the simple fun and surprisingly evocative synchronized musical Dancing Waters show to the overblown noise that is World of Color. All the cool little things that used to make a trip to Disneyland so charming appear to have no place in the new park -- sorry, RESORT, master plan.

Thanks for the photos and the reminder of many fun nights at the hotel!

K. Martinez said...

Great pics. I stayed at the "Wrather" Disneyland Hotel once in the 1970s and loved it. These images evoke some of those fond memories.

I finally saw World of Color last month and was very surprised how such a visually spectacular show could bore me. Maybe I'm jaded, but by the end of the show, I found myself not really caring if I ever saw it again. Still if it brings in guests and helps DCA succeed and stay open later I'm happy.

Nanook said...

Without trying to beat a dead horse, there's an awful lot to be said for: less is more. On the other hand, it could hardly be blasphemous to say that Disney often goes to the other extreme: more is never enough. And over the years, have successfully used both "styles" to great effect.

As there are certainly times for each one, suffice it to say for far too many of those times, Disney clearly needed an 'editor' !

Rich T. said...

I never did get over to see Dancing Waters -- wish I had! I'm sure you didn't have to stand around for two hours just to get a good viewing spot!

World of Color is pretty, but once was enough for me; I'm hoping future versions of the show look less like an extended ad for Disney Home Video.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, apparently that show traveled quite a lot before it wound up at the Disneyland Hotel. The only water show from the 64/65 World's Fair that I am aware of was the huge example in the "Pool of Industry"… I suppose these could be from that?

Nancy, at least you got to see it, unlike me!

Alonzo, you are so right. Even my iPod, which I bought three years ago, seems big and clunky compared to the current versions. And the Dancing Waters show was a nice, free extra goodie, so expectations were probably not very high.

Anon, my guess is that the Dancing Waters lacked big thrills and high-tech wonders, but made up for it in charm.

K. Martinez, like you, I hope that World of Color is a big hit for DCA. I'm obviously a Disney park geek, but maybe I've grown a bit jaded myself.

Nanook, I can see where Disney is in a weird position. If World of Color was smaller and less spectacular, fans would accuse them of being too cheap to "do it right". So they go overboard in the other direction and make it massive. I appreciate the idea of really wanting to do something amazing for the guests, at least!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I know they had the big Pool of Industry water show at night with fireworks, but I knew I had read something about a smaller show that was packed up and moved either right away or eventually to the DL Hotel. I found the info about the show at the Fair here:

Dancing Waters Show at the 1964 NYWF

It was located inside an inflatable building in the Lake Amusement section of the Fair. Now I will try to find the info that I had read about the jets and the organ console at the Hotel being the same ones from the Fair.

TokyoMagic! said...

I found the additional info! It was Chris Jepsen that had posted the info on his blog a couple years ago. I forgot about just how many places the water show had been moved around to before being installed permanently at the hotel!

Here's the link to Chris Jepsen's post: Dancing Waters Show History

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I remember Chris Jepsen's great post (which is why I mentioned that the Dancing Waters show moved around so much). Thanks for the links!

Omnispace said...

Very cool photos! I never got to see the Dancing Waters at the Disneyland Hotel though I did get to see the Sparkletts Water Fantasy Show at Sea World in San Diego. It had a permanent building so guests could watch it during the day. I remember the scene where they added strobes to make it look like it was snowing -- very cool!

David said...

I don't think its about being jaded. The World of Color is...well...dumb and a huge disappointment for me. As someone noted, all it really tries to be is a platform for Disney to advertise.

I think what comes down is that its over produced, Las Vegas style tourist attraction. The Bellagio one is simple, neat and free.

Major Pepperidge said...

You make a good point David... I love the Bellagio show. However, maybe expectations are lower *because* it is free, if you know what I mean?

Hannahx2 said...

To me, and I've heard this opinion elsewhere as well, WOC lacks the charm of other nighttime shows because a lack of original music to make it unique and memorable. The WOC song is not original to the DCA show, but taken from the television show, while Fantasmic!, and the fireworks shows or parades have original music written specifically for them. While they all borrow clips of music and sound from other pictures or attractions WOC does simply that and nothing more.
Beautiful images of the Dancing Waters however... just needs some Glow With the Show!!
Except not.

Tom said...

Dancing Waters at the DL Hotel had an intimacy that you don't get at WOC. It was small, relatively unknown and unless you happened to be there and know what was going on, you'd miss it.
The very first time I was able to take my kids to Disneyland, we stayed at the DL hotel to make it extra magical. We explored the grounds and discovered this show space, and made a point of catching the next show. It wasn't over the top phenomenal, but it was cool - and we got to be right up close.

Chuck said...

I remember watching Dancing Waters from our 6-inch deep "balcony" at the DL hotel on our 2nd wedding anniversary. I'd been aware of (but had never seen) the show as a kid and had totally forgotten about it when we heard music outside the window and decided to investigate. It was icing on that evening's cake. What a great memory you've dredged up, major!

Jonas Clark said...

These two postcards are of the Rain Jet "Water Fantasy" at Sea World, later sponsored by Sparkletts. This show used exclusively Rain Jet's "Showers of Diamonds" fountain nozzles, which were sold for home use and are also used in Disneyland's Tiki Room fountain (the Sea World show also used a few custom nozzles not sold to the public!)

I wrote a bit in the commChris Jepsen's post. In short, the fountain at the World's Fair was one of many such units that were built; the Dancing Waters were brought to the US by Harold Steinman circa 1951 after he saw them both at a German show and at the Resi Balhaus in Berlitn, where their inventor had a permanent show. Throughout the 50s and 60s, several Dancing Waters units toured the US and Europe; they appeared at the NYWF, several state fairs, many flower shows and stadiums, and had (for a very brief time) "permanent" installations at the Royal Nevada Hotel in Las Vegas and Freedomland, USA in New York. The longest-lived permanent installation of one of these German shows was at the Disneyland Hotel.

Because they were played live, a very involved skill taking months of practice, a live Dancing Waters show could be anything from amazing to boring, depending on the talent operating the switchboard. Harold Steinman tended to put on poorer shows as time went on. The inventor's grandson is now running the company as Waltzing Waters, using very high-tech equipment, and the newer Fantasy Waters was one of those fountains, though with some not-so-hot in-house Disney programming.

The Sparkletts show, now closed, started with punched-card programming and, I suspect, later used newer computers. I have several of Rain Jet's nozzles, and they're really delightful things.

Jason said...

Jonas Clark is correct. These photos are from the Sea World show. I was a Show Operator there from 1976-1979, and saw "The Four Seasons" show more times than I can remember. At that time the show was run from a paper tape which advanced once for each change of fountains/lights. A hidden tone on another channel of the taped soundtrack told the system when to advance one setup. Some effects, like the house lights and the strobe light (for the snow) were manually controlled.

The old card reader was used as a backup, but they had a tendency to stick in the reader. The original equipment was a "tenor drum" that was much like a player piano roll. It had a maximum of about 75 setups, as I recall. Also, it was only programmed to run the original show, called "The Friesen Show," which was pretty dull.