Did you know that Carousel Day exists? Well, you do now! It’s the best day of the year to celebrate the humble merry-go-rounds, always turning at a placid pace and playing cheerful music. Keeping that in mind, here are some of the best European carousels to visit on this day!
The Korhinta, Holnemvolt Park, Budapest, Hungary
Korhinta literally means “carousel.” Build-in 1906, it was restored to working order in 1996. Originally, it was powered by horses, which turned the carousel by walking in the basement underneath it. I wonder what they did about the smell.
When they were stripping the paint to restore the Korhinta, they found 10-15 layers of paint that had accumulated on the horses and carriages over the years of operation. A few of the stationary horses in the inner row were even older, having been transplanted from another ride! Meanwhile, the outer row of horses faces outward, at a right angle to the direction of the spin, which is unusual in carousel design.
Historisches Karussell Wilhelmsbad, Wilhelmsbad, Hanau, Germany
You thought that a 1906 carousel is old? Think again, bucko. Wilhelm I., Elector of Hesse, as commissioned this carousel as part of the Wilhelmsbad park in 1780, making it possibly the oldest in the world. This carousel predates the United States! No wonder it has “historical” in the title – it has seen a lot of history. First pulled by serfs (peasants) and later by oxen, a ticket to ride cost more than a night at an expensive hotel. The carousel had been visited by many historical personalities, like King Wilhelm III of Prussia and Kaiser Franz II of Austria.
However, it was damaged during World War II and most of its horses were stolen in 1970 (the criminals were caught). Restoration efforts for the carousel were helmed by a volunteer group that started as a discussion at a pub in 1989. Twenty-odd years and half a million Euros later, the carousel is waiting for you to ride it.
Ashley’s Golden Gallopers, Wherever Jack Schofield Is, UK
Exploiting peasants and livestock for park rides are great, but you know what’s even more fun? Caging the scalding power of steam to make a carousel go merrily round. The Golden Gallopers were first built in 1894 and converted to the galloping standard after World War I.
Currently owned by Jack Schofield (who won a steam rally award for it in 2018), the carousel travels around England, appearing at various locations throughout the year. The original steam engine has been replaced by one pre-dating the ride – the same can be said about the organ. Originally built by legendary Italian fairground organ makers Gavioli, it was damaged in 1940 and received a replacement dating back to the 1870s. It’s probably the first time that a “Ship of Theseus” problem features replacement components more legendary than the original!
Efteling Park salon carousel, Efteling Amusement Park, Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands
This salon carousel started out as a travelling attraction back in 1903 and only “settled down” at the park in 1956. It was originally a steam carousel as it was powered by steam – however, today the moniker remains only because the engine is still in the ride.
The carousel still has its salon facade and statuary (back in ye olde days, salon carousels were enclosed and featured table space for parties), as well as the original horses and rocking gondolas. It also has one of the Gavioli organs. However, it also features components from other attractions, like panels and Egyptian princess statues from a Sipkema (old Dutch carousel manufacturer family) carousel and a statue from Benner’s Electrische Bioscope (early travelling cinema)
Le Carrousel de Lancelot, Disneyland, Paris, France
Disneyland boasts its own impressive carousel as well. Back in the ancient times, 16 of the outer-row horses (and a spare) were carved by Joe Leonard in America, painted by Disney artists in Florida and shipped to France. Yes, this is an intercontinental carousel. Oh, each of those horses weight over 110 kilos.
The chariots were built in 1917, restored in 1991, and are decorated with gold leaf, copper leaf and aluminium leaf, which seems a little excessive for such heavy-duty park ride. Meanwhile, the 70 fibreglass horses on the four inner rows (yes, this carousel is five-abreast – do you have enough friends to fill a single rank?) are copies of Cinderella’s Golden Carousel found at Walt Disney World in Florida.
So how about taking one of these historical carousels for a ride (that is merry and goes round)? All of them seem to be easily reached by plane. However, flight disruptions can ruin the fun ride more readily than rain. What can you do? Claim flight compensation for delayed flights and flight cancellations and even overbooking! Do it with Skycop and you’ll barely have to do anything to get up to €600 in compensation from the airline!