Five adults, two teenagers, 3 children, and I went to Seattle Center on the Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving. The lure was Chihuly Garden & Glass but we accidentally discovered the International Fountain built for the 1962 World’s Fair on our way to it.
Redone in 1995 for $6.5 million, the once tame International Fountain is now a slumbering mechanical monster that comes alive randomly. Its awakening causes those who have been brave enough to creep toward it, often on a dare, to get generously sprayed as they run away, mostly screaming. Park visitors of all ages, many tugging on small hands, attempt to touch its pipe filled superstructure before some of those pipes erupt. Many don’t make it delighting both those who get sprayed like YouTube video victims and those who witness.
Appropriately enough, WET Design was the Mechanical Designer of this fiendishly clever dome sunk into the middle of an oversized bowl. Many of the unexpected, showy eruptions from one or more of the 137 nozzles end with a Super Shooter that propels jets of cold water 120 feet into the air.
International Fountain operates year round, but we happened to be there on a marginally warm late November day where I personally learned never to turn my back on Fountain. Like the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, the International’s performances, I learned later, are often accompanied by music, but not on this day. Its only sounds were startling mechanical whooshes and then satisfied gurgles after it sprayed someone.
In the middle of Seattle Center not too far from KeyArena and other Seattle Center attractions–the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, and, yes, the elegant Garden & Glass–International Fountain was the most fun activity of the day according to 6 adults, two teenagers, and 3 children.
Toward the end of the afternoon, I watched as a man dressed as a clown approached a family. I saw the Dad’s smile turn to a frown. He then shook his head no and walked away. Passing me, he was saying to his wife, “Isn’t anything at this place free?” The answer is yes, the 5 Compass International Fountain.
Check it out.