Carousels and Merry-Go-Rounds* have been a staple at amusement parks since their introduction in the early-19th century. So, when Walt Disney created the most wonderful theme park in the world, he had to include one.
Disneyland’s carousel, King Arthur Carrousel, was built by William Dentzel in 1875 and had been operated at Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto, Ontario. The structure was widened to four courses in order to increase guest capacity, which required the purchase of extra horses. Most of the horses were carved in the Dentzel factory in the late 19th and early 20th century with additions obtained from a Stein and Goldstein carousel, Coney Island’s Looff carousel, and various other carousels from around North America. Standers on the original three rows were converted to jumpers by removing the legs and carving new ones. Custom-built crankshafts were installed overhead to operate each horse as a jumper in motion. (The original, wooden chariot benches were removed, and the woodwork was repurposed to decorate the “calliope” tenders and passenger cars of Casey Jr. Circus Train.) When Disneyland opened, the horses were various colors, then in 1975 all the horses were painted white due to the popularity of the carousel’s single white horse.
Each horse on the carousel has a name and a complete list is available at City Hall. Jingles, the lead horse, is named for the beautiful straps of jingle bells hanging from her saddle and cantle. Jingles received a make-over with decorations that include the talking parrot-handled umbrella from Mary Poppins when she was dedicated to Julie Andrews on April 8, 2008 as “Honorary Ambassador” of Disneyland.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, formerly Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel, is located in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. The carousel was originally built by The Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1917. In 1967, Walt Disney purchased the carousel from Olympic Park in Irvington, New Jersey. The original name of the carousel was Liberty, and the maidens can still be seen on the top of the carousel. Just like at Disneyland, every horse is different.
Castle Carrousel in Tokyo was also created for the park – although, I cannot find a reference to the manufacturer.
Disneyland Paris’ Le Carrousel de Lancelot, was custom created for the theme park by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters.
For Hong Kong Disneyland, Chance Rides of Wichita, Kansas was commissioned to create the park’s version of Cinderella’s Carousel.
Other Disney carousels include:
Disney California Adventure – King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea
Tokyo Disney Sea – Caravan Carousel
*A carousel contains only horses while a merry-go-round has a menagerie.