Sunday, November 10, 2013

New York World's Fair Fountains at Night

Disneyland has it's famous fireworks, California Adventure has it's "World of Color" fountain-firework-light show; back in 1964/65, visitors to the New York World's Fair who were in the vicinity of the "Fountain of the Planets" would see a spectacular "... display of synchronized water, fireworks, color and music". Here are some surprisingly good pictures of the show!

Ooooo, red and yellow make orange. "The largest fountain in the world, the Fountain of the Planets, sends roughly 10,000 tons of water in shifting patterns, sometimes as high as 150 feet".

"Rockets are released from 464 rocket launchers, lights casting close to 150 million candle power throw color effects on water and sky....

".... and the music of a 60-piece symphony orchestra sounds over loudspeakers - all with coordinated timing and effects". 

"The fountain, covering 25,000 square feet, composes its patterns through 2000 nozzles and is completely automated - allowing split-second timing so the water can be synchronized with fireworks, lights and music." 

It must have been quite an experience!


K. Martinez said...

Spectacular colors and amazing photo quality for that era. Were these commercial slides for the World's Fair or did some amateur photographer have a great camera?

Speaking of Disney's nighttime entertainment, I loved the Electrical Water Pageant in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World. Last time I saw it was in the 1970s. It was simple, but pure magic!

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I suppose the photographer must have had a pretty good camera, and they new enough about light levels and F-stops and all that technical stuff! I have seen pictures of the old Electrical Water Pageant, it looked cool, but one of the things I loved about the Electrical Parade is that it was right up close. Remember how those little "bugs" could come within mere feet of the crowds?

Dean Finder said...

Is there sound film of the show?
Or an official album recording and home movie footage that we can sync up?

Dennis said...

Looking forward to seeing "World of Color" at Disneyland this January. Although I attended the Worlds Fair, I don't remember seeing these fountains lit up at night. I guess we went home before the show. Dennis
Levittown, NY

Major Pepperidge said...

Dean, I used to have a collection of live recorded sounds from the Fair, but am not sure if the fountain show was part of that collection. Naturally I can't find it now. And while there is a ton of footage of the Fair on YouTube, I don't remember ever seeing that fountain show - probably because of the difficulty of night photography back then.

Dennis, in the summer it doesn't get dark until pretty late (9 o'clock at least), and I would assume the show wasn't performed until after it was good and dark. So it does seem possible that you and your family might have left before the show.

Katella Gate said...

I always loved fountain shows... this reminds me of the far more modest Sparklettes Water Fantasy show at the old Sea World in San Diego.

There were two versions.. the first was simply popular songs of the day with the fountain offering interpretation (The music was mostly stuff every grandmother loved like "Little Spanish Flea", "Laura's Theme")

I think that show got a little long in the tooth and it was revised with a heavily narrated show about "the four seasons". I never cared for this as much since it felt like a special effects demonstration, but one effect was outstanding. When winter was introduced, there was a strobe effect and the water falling from the ceiling looked just like snow. There was always a gasp from the audience.

Melissa said...

Reminds me so much of the EPCOT fountains at night.Although they haven't hung onto everything from the "permanent World's Fair" concept, I'm so glad they've kept up the magnificent fountains and their nocturnal illumination.

Bill Cotter said...

I have the soundtracks to several of the fireworks shows and some of the Fair's background music on my site at

Happy listening!


Major Pepperidge said...

Thank you Bill, I will check out your soundtracks right away!!