Disneyland execs recently announced that there will be a major “refurb” and update to the pool area at the Disneyland Hotel.  That’s okay, I guess.  I mean I love the Neverland Pool with its projection of Tinker Bell into the water at night and Captain Hook’s ship sitting in the center.  And, heck, I still miss the lagoon at the hotel with the paddle boats and “underwater” arcade.  However, when I learned that this “refurb” would include the removal of the waterfalls and koi ponds, I, admittedly, cried.

I grew up going to a much more elaborate Disneyland Hotel.  The Disneyland Hotel of my generation was a true destination.  Remember the Monorail Cafe? The Bonita Tower? The white sand beach surrounding the pool? And, perhaps the most memorable part of all… the Fantasy Waters show.

In the spirit of preserving my memories of the old Disneyland Hotel, this is the first of a series of posts about my favorite parts of the hotel that have slowly slipped into “Yesterland.”  First up – Fantasy Waters.

Disney’s Wonderful of Color, the new nighttime extravaganza at California Adventure, premiered a few weeks ago, and, wonderfully, Disney live-streamed the event on Ustream.  I had a “front-row” seat at my computer 🙂  And, I loved it.  Not, however, because it was big and bold.  Actually, I loved it because it reminded me of a much simpler show that was very special in my childhood… Fantasy Waters.

Photo of the show from 1996

Photo of the show from 1996

Tucked away in the back corner of the Disneyland hotel’s property was the Fantasy Waters show – or Dancing Waters asit wascalled earlier in its existence.  It was an unsuspecting cement pond by day… but, at night, it turned into a charming display ofdancing fountains, lighted color panels, and classic Disney movie music.  Much like the new World of Color show, Fantasy Waters didn’t have a plot line.  It simply was a collage of classic Disney music moments, brought to life by colorful, choreographed fountains and – somewhat psychedelic – illuminated panels behind the water.  A hotel brochure from 1991 touts the, then, Dancing Waters show as,

A spectacular display of choreographed fountains and lighting effects featuring The Magic of Disney Music at 9 and 10 p.m. daily… a dazzling spectacle of fountains, lights and music.

Fantasy Waters 2And, yes, regardless of peak seasons, optimal conditions, or guest demand, Fantasy Waters was presented twice nightly, every night.  Now, whether or not this was always the case, I’m not sure… but every time I was lucky enough to vacation at the Disneyland Hotel, Fantasy Waters was diligently presented twice nightly during my stay.

My family always requested a “lagoon view” room in the Bonita Tower when we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, and my favorite memory of the Fantasy Waters show was one year when our room was close enough to the “stage” to see the show from our balcony.  At that time, the room windows weren’t hermetically sealed with space-age blue glass.  The large sliding glass doors opened onto a tiny, but cozy, balcony, where you could hear the roar of the waterfalls or catch a glance of the koi fish swimming in the ponds below.  The particular night I remember, my mom, my grandma, and I were tightly packed on the balcony, peeking over the ledge so we could see the show from our room.  It was always wonderful to watch the Fantasy Waters from the viewing area, but as a child I thought we were quite the VIPs because we could see the show simply by stepping out on our balcony.  To a nine-year-old, we were living large! 🙂

I have lots of other wonderful memories of this terrifically nostalgic show and I was more than a little upset when it simply stopped “performing.”  If you head to the back of the resort now, you will find nothing more than a concrete pit that used to house the show, but in the next few months – if not already – the area will be demolished to make room for the highly touted new pool area at the resort.  Gone too will be the waterfalls and those beautiful koi ponds… but more on those in another post.

Below is a great video that I found on YouTube by ru42, whose videos and audio I discovered on VisionsFantastic.com
and really love.  Enjoy this piece of Disneyland Hotel history!

© 2010, Rays of Disneyland. All rights reserved.

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