Bellagio Fountain

In the midst of the Las Vegas desert is a spectacular oasis like no other on earth. The Bellagio Fountains made their Las Vegas debut in 1998 when Steve Wynn opened his magnificent Bellagio hotel. The opening night featured VIPs from around the world who paid a reported $1000 for an individual or $3500 for a couple to attend the event, spend the night in the hotel and contribute to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The opening of the Bellagio cost a reported $88 million. Which seemed fitting because at its opening the Bellagio was the most expensive hotel ever built at approximately $1.6 billion. Huge at the time, but Steve Wynn‘s latest creation, the newly opened Encore in Las Vegas is reportedly topping out at more than $2 billion.

Although Wynn initially put so much into the property, he eventually sold it and in 2000 it became an MGM Mirage property when the MGM Grand merged with Mirage Resorts.

The fountains at the Bellagio Hotel are by far its most impressive feature, and there are many great features at the Bellagio including a botanical garden, a gallery of fine art and a stunning Chihuly glass ceiling. The fountains are set in a large manmade pond that is almost nine acres and the fountains perform a choreographed routine set to music. Shows are scheduled to occur every 30 minutes in the afternoon and early evenings and then at 8:00 pm they switch to a schedule of every 15 minutes and run on that schedule until midnight.

The fountains were designed by WET and use more than 1,200 nozzles and 4,500 lights. The fountain features a pair of concentric rings and a long curved arc with two small circles at each end, this structure can be seen from the ground or a hotel room in the air when the fountains are not in play. There are only four nozzles that create the huge variety of different visual effects. The Shooter nozzles outline the entire layout and can propel the water straight into the sky, create curtains of water or chase sequences. The HyperShooters have been reengineered to fire jets 240 feet into the air while the ExtremeShooters send a blast up as high as 500 feet into the air and can be seen for miles around. The Oarsmen nozzles are jets which can be moved 120 degrees from side to side and 90 degrees from front to back. Oarsmen are grouped with a pod of lights that follow the water and each one can be programmed and controlled independently. The Oarsmen create an almost infinite number of patterns and provide the great diversity that denotes one aquatic routine from another.

shutterstock_7117810In addition to the nozzles, WET designed fog machines to add an ethereal quality across the lake as the entire area becomes blanked in a thick fog and individually controlled lights follow water patterns through the fog.

Unbelievably, a team of dive-certified engineers are always on site to repair any problems that may occur so people do not have to miss a performance. Although performances are cancelled at times if the winds are too strong, sometimes its just one performance but its not unusual for a few performances to be withheld if the winds are bad. Sometimes the Bellagio Fountain performances are also skipped when they interfere with a planned event at the hotel or on the strip.

You may have heard that the water in the fountain is treated greywater from the hotel. Greywater is wastewater that comes from washing, laundry and bathing. This actually isn’t true. The hotel was built on top of an old golf course which used a fresh water well to irrigate the golf course.  Since the well was already existing it was the perfect source of water for the Bellagio Fountains. Remarkably, it takes less water to feed the fountains than it did to irrigate the golf course.

shutterstock_16692772It has not been publicly stated, but it has been estimated that about $50 million was spent to build the fountains.

The songs and choreography for the Fountains at Bellagio change regularly and range from classical music to Broadway standards all the way to current pop chart toppers. Some of the songs featured as Bellagio Fountain masterpieces are listed below.

  • All That Jazz (from the musical Chicago)
  • Big Spender (from the musical Sweet Charity)
  • Fly Me to the Moon (as performed by Frank Sinatra)
  • God Bless the USA (as performed by Lee Greenwood)
  • Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus (as performed by Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
  • Hoe Down (Aaron Copland)
  • Luck be a Lady (from the musical Guys & Dolls)
  • My Heart Will Go On (as performed by Celine Dion)
  • One (from the musical A Chorus Line)
  • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Rachmaninov)
  • Santa Baby (as performed by Madonna)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (as performed by Gene Kelly)
  • Star Spangled Banner (as performed by Whitney Houston)
  • This Kiss (as performed by Faith Hill)
  • Time to Say Goodbye (as performed by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli)
  • Viva Las Vegas (as performed by Elvis Presley)
  • Your Song (as performed by Elton John)

If you’re captivated by the musical arrangements and the choreography it’s not surprising. Although computers help with the display, much of the show has to be programmed and choreographed by hand and this process can take the designers weeks or even months. The designers from WET happily discuss their favorite compositions and what makes each composition so special to them. Their personal involvement ranges from wanting to honor their mentors to a personal expression of art.


For some people the best feature of the Bellagio Fountains are that they’re free. The fountains sit right on the strip and can be viewed from a number of points along the street as well as from several hotels in the area. There is no charge for stopping along your path and watching the fountains put on a performance, and in fact, you’ll probably want to stop by several times as the performances change regularly and even if you see the same performance twice you won’t be disappointed.