On With the Show

Coming to terms with the Fountains of Bellagio

By James Oseland

Published on March 15, 2012

photo curtesy of Will Van Overbeek / National Geograpic Stock

If you can believe it, looking out on the famous Fountains of Bellagio after checking into a room at a hotel next door last September, my immediate response was alarm. You have to understand: I was in Las Vegas to shoot a television show; I'd be living in that room for almost a month. I knew the fountains, with their booming blasts of compressed air rocketing the water skyward and Sturm und Drang musical accompaniment, would be my near -constant companions. And so for three whole weeks I pointedly ignored them. It wasn't until the end of my stay that I finally let my guard down. Rising early one morning to head to the set, I'd seen pontoons gliding across the thousand-foot-long lake, and engineers in wet suits tending to the jets that propel the water into the air. I learned that there are 1,214 of those jets; choreographing their pressure and movement is a technical marvel difficult for the layperson to comprehend fully. I didn't need to. Now, watching soaring parabolas of water twist and transform into dancing figures as lithe and alluring as any showgirl—not to mention hearing Andrea Bocelli's swelling tenor singing "Time to Say Goodbye"—there was nothing to feel but awe. This is it, I thought. This is why we come to Las Vegas.

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