One of the first rides most parents choose to take their kids on is a merry-go-round or carousel. It
instantly sparks fun, creates some awesome photo ops, and it brings back memories of our own
childhood. National Merry-go-round Day was created in 2014 by Bette Largent, President of the
National Carousel Association and by Ronald Hopkins, carousel historian, to celebrate these beautiful
attractions and unique pieces of art.
Merry-go-rounds are one of the oldest amusement park attractions around and all of them seem to tell
a wonderful history. Zoo animals, farm animals, Dr. Seuss Characters, dragons, fish, insects, unicorns,
and more can be found on merry-go-rounds. Many of the horses are given names, decorations, and
jewels. There are even some double-decker carousels.
The oldest carousel in operation in the US is the Watch Hill Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill Rhode
Island. It opened in 1876. The horses are not attached to the floor, instead, they are suspended from
above. It was originally powered by a horse.
Kings Dominion’s Merry-go-round is noted as one of the last wooden carousels left operating in the
world. It was built in 1917 for Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts, but it opened at Kings
Dominion on May 3, 1975. It features 66 hand-carved wooden horses. Only 2 of the horses have their
mouths completely shut.
Walt Disney World’s Prince Charming Regal Carousel was built in 1917 and was originally The Liberty
Carousel at Belle Isle Park in Detroit Michigan. It was moved to Walt Disney World in 1971. 90 horses
including Cinderella’s only one that has a golden bow on its tail.
The Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel at the National Zoo in Washington DC is one of the
only solar-powered carousels in the world. You can ride many zoo animals (some that are endangered)
and all of the proceeds from this carousel support animal care.
The National Carousel Association, which has been operating since 1973, tracks data of all the carousels
in the United States each year. Which carousel will you visit next?