« Water at Walt Disney World -- Part Two | Main | I Miss the Little Things »

Water at Walt Disney World -- Part Three

Jack Spence Masthead

Last Monday I discussed how water played a role in the creation of Walt Disney World and how it helps entertain guests in the Magic Kingdom. On Thursday I continued this discussion with a look at Epcot. Today I’m going to finish this series by highlighting the water features found in Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

The original plans for the Disney/MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) called for this park to be a real working studio that allowed guests to come in and witness the movie-making process. In addition, a few rides and attractions would be thrown in for good measure. Of course, we all know that things didn’t turn out that way. For a multitude of reasons, movie and television production did not take hold here and the studio evolved into a full-fledged theme park. However, much of the park still resembles a movie studio and because of this, there are not many water features found here.

Like Epcot, a landscaped flood canal splits the Studio parking lot in half.


Studio Parking Lot

Studio Parking Lot


The first water feature found inside the Studio is located at the end of Hollywood Blvd. Near the information board is a lovely art deco fountain. Once the park opens, it’s difficult to get a picture of this fountain without someone sitting on its edge. This is a popular meeting spot for groups.


Art Deco Fountain


The biggest water feature at the Studio is Echo Lake. This lake pays homage to the film industry that once found homes in the Echo Park, Silverlake, and the Hollywood districts of Los Angeles. The real Echo Lake is a man-made reservoir in the upscale community of Echo Park.

At the Studio, Echo Lake is home to Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner and Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction. There are also a number of umbrella-covered tables and chairs that are perfect for a little down time.


Echo Lake

Echo Lake

Echo Lake


The silliest of all fountains can be found in front of Muppet*Vision 3D. Here, Miss Piggy is a movie queen being directed by Gonzo and filmed by Fozzie Bear.


Muppet Fountain

Muppet Fountain

Muppet Fountain

Muppet Fountain


Inside Muppet*Vision 3D, Fozzie Bear showers the audience from his fake boutonnière.


Fozzie Bear


On the Streets of America, you just might encounter a leaky fire hydrant or two.


Fire Hydrant

Fire Hydrant


Also found on the Streets of America is an umbrella that comes complete with its own rainstorm.


Umbrella


On the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, a Super Soaker sporadically discharges a stream of water on the unsuspecting guests below.


Super Soaker


Water is a major theme on the Studio Backlot Tour. First, volunteers from the audience recreate a WWII battle scene. Between 400 gallons of make-believe waves, simulated bombs, air-pressure torpedoes, and phantom bullets, our unsuspecting participates would get soaked if it weren’t for the protective gear they wear. And some members in the first row of the audience do get splashed a bit.


Studio Backlot Tour

Studio Backlot Tour


Later in the tour, guests visit Catastrophe Canyon and experience the biggest water extravaganza at Walt Disney World. This attraction uses enough water to fill ten Olympic sized swimming pools and can propel 25,000 gallons of water over 100 feet. If a basketball were placed in one of these water cannons, it could be shot over the Empire State Building.


Catastrophe Canyon

Catastrophe Canyon


Over at the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show, water is used to a lesser extent in a chase scene using a jet ski.


Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show


Near the Studio Catering Co. is a statue of a mermaid. This recreation of a prop used in the 1984 movie “Splash” is made entirely out of fiberglass and was created here in the Studio Scenic Shop. The mold used to produce the mermaid and dolphins were originally created for ice sculptures seen in the movie, “Herbie goes Bananas.”


Mermaid Fountain


In the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show, a fine mist covers the audience as they descend “under the sea.” In addition, a curtain of water is used to help guests believe they have descended into Ariel and Sebastian’s world.


Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Voyage of the Little Mermaid


Outside the theater that houses the “Beauty and the Beast " Live on Stage” show is a simple, art deco waterfall.


Beauty and the Beast


At the Tower of Terror, there are several water features. But since the hotel has been abandoned for years, all of them are in a state of disrepair and dry.


Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror


Disney's Animal Kingdom

Returning rainwater to the aquifer is important in Florida. To that end, retention ponds have been created everywhere on Disney property and the Animal Kingdom is no exception. In the parking lot, you will find several of these man-made mini-lakes.


Retention Pond


In the early years of the Animal Kingdom, Rain Forest Café featured one of the largest waterfalls at Walt Disney World. It spanned almost the entire length of the restaurant’s roof and created an impressive sight.


Rain Forest Café Waterfall


As the years passed and the shrubbery matured, the new growth all but obscured this man-made wonder. Eventually the Imagineers had to redesign this area. Today, much smaller waterfalls flank the entrance to this restaurant.


Rain Forest Café Waterfall

Rain Forest Café Waterfall


Near the back entrance to Rain Forest Café is a playful garden complete with some cute animals and a bit of water.


Rain Forest Café Playground

Rain Forest Café Playground


Of course, Rain Forest Cafés is also noted for their innovative aquariums.


Rain Forest Café Aquarium


The Oasis is the first land guests enter at the Animal Kingdom. Here, the Imagineers endeavored to create natural and realistic settings. It was their desire to make it look like Mother Nature fashioned this scenic spot. Starting with waterfalls in the upper elevations, the water collects in pools and flows downhill until it reaches the main entrance. This arrangement provides many homes for some wondrous creatures.


The Oasis

The Oasis


Hidden within the Oasis is a rustic suspension bridge which spans a portion of this water. The bridge bounces a bit when mischievous guests walk a little too ambitiously.


suspension bridge


Discovery River surrounds Discovery Island. This waterway adds atmosphere to the Animal Kingdom and provides homes for a number of animals. But in the early years, it was to be much more. Discovery River was to be home to an attraction.

The Imagineers originally intended the Discovery River Boats to provide guests with an orientation of the Animal Kingdom as it skirted each land of the park. In addition, it would provide transportation from one side of the park to the other. Along the way guests would encounter an AudioAnimatronics dinosaur, a geyser, and a few animal enclosures. In addition, cast members on board would showcase small critters such as tarantulas, geckos, and scorpions. Guests could board Discovery River Boats at one of two stations. One station was located in Safari Village (now Discovery Island) near the entrance to Dinoland and the other in Asia across from the bird show. Since this was considered a “transportation” attraction, guests were forced to exit at the other station.


Discovery River Boat Attractions

Discovery River Boat Attractions


When the Animal Kingdom first opened, there were very few attractions. An hour wait for Discovery River Boats was common as there was little else to do. With precious few sights along the river banks and a forced exit at the other station, people inundated Guest Relations with complaints.

In an effort to spruce up this failure of an attraction, Disney retooled the ride and renamed it Radio Disney River Cruise.” The boats were repainted in bright colors and a round-trip to your original station was now provided. In addition, an onboard radio show was presented with music, trivia questions, and animal facts. It was still a dismal failure and guests continued to complain. The ride closed for good in August, 1999, just a year and a half after the park opened. Today, many parts of Discovery River are overgrown with trees and shrubbery.


Discovery River

Discovery River


Personally, I think the Imagineers set themselves up for failure. With few exceptions, EVERY guest who road Discovery River Boats was familiar with the Jungle Cruse in the Magic Kingdom. So it would be a natural expectation when visiting the Animal Kingdom and boarding a similar vessel that guests would see real animals instead of one AudioAnimatronics dinosaur and only a couple of bird sanctuaries. I know that was my expectation.

The water found on Discovery Island surrounds the Tree of Life. Once again, the Imagineers have tried to make this area look natural " as if it could really be the real-life home of the animals seen here.


Discovery Island Animals

Discovery Island Animals

Discovery Island Animals

Discovery Island Animals

Discovery Island Animals


Near the exit to “It’s Tough to be a Bug” is a towering waterfall.


Discovery Island Waterfall


Even though Camp Minnie/Mickey has been shuttered for good, it did have a few water features. The first could be seen on the banks of Discovery River as you entered this land. To the right was a stone dragon spewing water. His presence was to remind us that Beastly Kingdom would be coming soon.


Rock Dragon


As we ventured further into Camp Minnie/Mickey, we happened along a country stream and some intrepid hikers.


Country Stream

Hikers


Thirsty? An old well acted as a drinking fountain.


Well


And of course, no camping trip would be complete without a visit to the ol’ fishin’ hole.


Ol' Fishin' Hole

Ol' Fishin' Hole


There are no water features in the town of Harambe in Africa, but on Kilimanjaro Safaris water is abundant. But once again, most of it is presented naturally to add realism to the attraction. However, the Imagineers did go above and beyond when designing this ride. While traveling through the hippo area, the safari trucks ford a river. If you look closely at the roadway, you can see tire tracks in the mud. But these are not real tire tracks or real mud. But rather colored concrete.


Ruts in the Road

Ruts in the Road


I’m sure you all know that Flamingo Island is shaped like Mickey.


Flamingo Island


Up until recently, Kilimanjaro Safaris ended with a high-speed chase pursuing poachers. This trek took us between a number of erupting geysers. But most of these were removed when the storyline was changed and the poacher story eliminated.


Geysers


As guests exit Kilimanjaro Safaris they pass by a Ranger Station. Nearby is an interesting water fountain and Gorilla Falls.


Water Fountain

Gorilla Falls


While walking Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, guests enter a beautiful aviary. Inside they find waterfalls and a large aquarium.


Pangani Aquarium


Further along the trail guests can get a different view of the hippos by looking through glass walls into their bathing pool.


Hippo Bathing Pool

Hippo Bathing Pool


Water plays a major role in the gorilla sanctuary. Watching these magnificent beasts beside the raging falls is spectacular.


Gorilla Sanctuary


Water is also prevalent in Asia. The backstory for this land tells of the Chakranadi (CHAWK-rah-nah-dee) River that is born from the snowmelts in the Himalayas. Its nurturing waters soon reach warmer regions where a dense jungle grows and eventually flows into the Bugis Sea.

The Chakranadi River also experiences springtime floods. This can be witnessed at a decaying temple near the edge of town. If you examine the area, you can see how the river has overflowed its banks and its waters have surrounded this structure. In dryer times of the year, the doorways are accessible. In the meantime, gibbons have taken over this shrine and made it their own.


Asian Temple


No other attraction at Disney World is more about water than Kali River Rapids " not even Splash Mountain. There is no way around it, this ride is all about getting wet.


Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids


Near the end of the attraction, friends and family can give riders one final soaking by encouraging the elephants to spray the rafts.


Elephant Spray

Elephant Spray


Water also plays an important part on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. One of the main features revolves around the tiger-blind found here. The backstory tells us that evil King Bhima Disampati built this structure for himself and his guests. Perched high on a lookout platform, they could shoot the tigers as they came to drink from an elaborate fountain. Fortunately, King Disampati was killed and his diabolical sport was discontinued.


Maharajah Jungle Trek

Maharajah Jungle Trek

Maharajah Jungle Trek


Further along the trail we come to an aviary. Here we find a combination fountain/birdbath.


Bird Bath


An artistic fountain can be discovered near the restrooms in this part of Asia. I love the glass-like design the water makes as it falls to the waiting pool. It’s fun to put your finger in the water and disrupt the flow.


Asian Fountain

Asian Fountain


As we leave the wetlands of Anandapur, we travel to the vast plains that sit at the foot of the rugged Himalayas. Rainfall is scarce here and the land is parched. Take a look at the dry creek beds found near Expedition Everest.


Dry River Bed

Dry River Bed

Up on the mountain slopes things are different. Melting snow creates a glorious waterfall.


Everest Waterfall


Dinoland U.S.A. uses very little water to entertain guests, but it does exist. The one obvious spot can be found in front of the “Dinosaur” attraction. Here we see Aladar standing in a reflecting pool.


Dinosaur

Dinosaur


At Chester & Hester’s Dinorama, the arcade game Fossil Fueler uses water guns to aim at targets.


Fossil Fueler


That pretty much covers the water features found in the four theme parks " I think. As I was writing this article, I kept finding more and more examples of water as I browsed through my pictures and wandered the parks. I became more and more amazed at how often H2O turns up everywhere. It’s astounding how prevalent this life-giving liquid can be.

In ending, I would like to point out one more water feature. This one is common to all four parks. It’s the combination squirt gun/fan. It’s perfect for a Florida summer afternoon.


Squirt Gun Fan


The previous post in this blog was Water at Walt Disney World -- Part Two.

The next post in this blog is I Miss the Little Things.

Comments (11)

Josh Weiss:

Hey Jack
Both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have amazing water features. From Kali River Rapids full blown water experience, to the Tower or Terror's mysterious lack of water, water is all around in Disney World. And of course the spray bottles are always great to have on a hot day. Can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Erik:

Hi Jack, this has been a great series. Thanks so much for doing it. I was hoping to see some coverage of Fantasmic, since it's based on water, but I would guess it's pretty hard to get people-free pictures of it!

Tricia:

Jack,

Great report as usual. I always love the new things you show me. However I think you duplicated a picture. The one for "On the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, a Super Soaker sporadically discharges a stream of water on the unsuspecting guests below." and the one for "In the early years of the Animal Kingdom, Rain Forest Café featured one of the largest waterfalls at Walt Disney World. It spanned almost the entire length of the restaurant’s roof and created an impressive sight." Are the same shot I think.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! My goodness, there sure are a lot of water features in WDW. I love the Muppet fountain at HS and love The Oasis at AK. But, again, I feel cheated...I have NEVER seen the leaky fire hydrants!!!! Another reason to take your time and smell the roses. I feel I do this on a regular basis, but still end up missing things...Maybe I should plan a year long vacation at Disney...I WISH!!!

Jill:

Thanks for another fascinating series. Water at WDW is near and dear to my heart now: My older son, who has some special needs, is absolutely fascinated by moving H20 in all capacities, and I think I have photos of him at nearly all the park fountains from last year's trip. (So much so I did a double-page scrapbook layout on "Jim & The Fountains of Disney!") His favorites were the Muppet*Vision one at Hollywood studios and the France pavilion, leaping and Innoventions courtyard fountains in Epcot. It's great to have more background on all of them.

Rhonda:

Hi Jack,

I love reading your stuff and really enjoyed this. I just have to ask though: How could you forget about Fantasmic at Hollywood Studio's? It is probably my favorite night time show.

Thanks, Rhonda

Jack's Comment:

Believe it or not, I only halfway forgot about Fantasmic. You see, I haven't see this great show in years and I have absolutely no pictures of this attraction. I should have mentioned it, but didn't.

Adam:

I wonder if, in an Animal Kingdom now fleshed out with E-ticket attractions like Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Finding Nemo and the forthcoming Land of Pandora, if the Discovery River Boats might make for a good re-addition to the park. A nice, quiet boat ride from one side of the park to the other could give a little relaxation, and some fans might ease the hottest park in the World.

Then again, given the mysterious night time show they'll be adding at DAK (a concept with which I find myself having more concerns than with the Pandora land, given the possibility of noise and light at night disrupting the animals' routine) maybe there's just no room for something like the Discovery Boats anymore.

Actually, looking at the history of all the WDW parks, it seems like calm boat rides like the Discovery Boats, the Swan Boats, the Explorer Canoes and the Mike Fink Keel Riverboats, don't have much of a place in the fast paced world. (Though to be fair, everyone I know who ever rode the Riverboats said they were dreadful.) The Liberty Bell is good enough for me, though!

Laura :

One of my favorite water features in Animal Kingdom is the reflecting pool behind the Flame Tree BBQ. It's a great place to grab a table, eat your lunch and relax.

JMM:

Reading these kinds of articles makes me wish new (and old) visitors to the parks knew more about the work that went into all the little details. Some people rush from ride to ride without paying attention to that. Travel guides should spend more time to point that out. I think it can help you "stop and smell the roses" to appreciate everything, not just the rides.

Don:

Just caught up on all 3 water blogs after my runDisney trip! Wow, there was some neat information. Thanks for details, and can't wait for the next one.

Thanks--Don

Jenn:

Do the hotels next!

Post a comment

(All comments must be approved before they appear on the entry.)


By submitting this comment I agree I am bound by the AllEars.net Terms of Use agreement

Return to Blog Central

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 5, 2014 5:11 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Water at Walt Disney World -- Part Two.

The next post in this blog is I Miss the Little Things.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.