The end could be nigh for the world’s most famous fountains
The dancing fountains adorning the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas have been amusing and amazing audiences for nigh-on 18 years could soon be a thing of the past—that is, if blueprints for a brand new mall are anything to go by.
Centre stage in the heart of “Lake Bellagio” on the world’s most famous strip, these iconic fountains “dance” with perfectly-orchestrated choreography to a roster of tracks, much to the delight of the crowds who congregate every day come rain or shine to experience one of the city’s must-see attractions. If the official Bellagio website is to be believed, the hotel’s unique feature is truly something to behold, “destined to romance your senses [through] a spectacular show of thoughtfully-interwoven water, music and light, designed to mesmerise its admirers. It is the most ambitious, choreographically-complex water feature ever conceived”. Big talk, but the attraction certainly lives up to the hype—the feature is listed as number one in Time Magazine’s top 10 things to do in Las Vegas, no mean feat in the city known for its spellbinding shows and unmissable tourist attractions.
However, this could soon be the end of an era for the Bellagio’s iconic show. A report published by the Las Vegas Review Journal has claimed that MGM Resorts—owners of the Bellagio—are in talks to turn the 8.5-acre lake in front of the famous hotel into a “boutique shopping and restaurant promenade”. Speculation continues unabashed, despite firm protestations from MGM Resorts who in a statement have vehemently denied their intentions to eliminate “the iconic Bellagio Fountains, one of the most identifiable tourism landmarks in the world”.
Recognised by the Independent as “a rare free attraction in a city that encourages spending at every opportunity”, this may well be the Bellagio Fountains’ only point of contention for commercial-minded hotel executives: the fact that it is free. Notorious blogger Scott Roeben, of Vital Vegas fame, attests: “Las Vegas is in a constant state of evolution. People who come to see free shows aren’t the ideal customer…while free attractions appear to draw crowds, that rarely translates into gambling or other revenue for the casino. [For this reason] there are numerous examples of casinos eliminating or downsizing their free offerings”. Whether the Bellagio will become one in a very long list remains to be seen.
It is argued that with the loss of the Bellagio’s fountains will come the loss of the hotel’s most striking feature. Are the days of the Bellagio Fountains truly numbered? It seems like a strange move to get rid of what the hotel itself affectionately refers to as its “calling card”, but as The Independent so astutely observes: “What Las Vegas giveth, Las Vegas [can] taketh away”. Watch this space.
The Bellagio Fountains: In numbers
> $40m—the cost to build the Bellagio Fountains (not including the estimated $300-400,000 per month it costs to maintain)
> 22 million—the amount of gallons of water used in Lake Bellagio, equivalent to 2,000 swimming pools
> $250,000—the cost of pressing the “magic red button” in the Bellagio that sets off the Bellagio Fountains, and choosing the show’s next song
> 1,214—the number of fountains used in the display during each show
> 460 feet—the distance into the air the water from the fountains can travel (only 81 feet shorter than the Eiffel Tower)
> 208—the number of Bellagio Fountain shows performed each and every week
> 30—the amount of staff employed 7 days a week to clean, maintain and repair the fountains between shows
> 1 year+—the amount of time it would take to fill Lake Bellagio with a standard garden hose