Carousels are a marvel of the amusement park world. They’re more artistic than the average ride, with lots of room for creativity. And who says carousels are just for kids? Take your family and friends of all ages to enjoy the ride (and the spectacle!) on these carousels. Whether you’re looking to enjoy amusement park history or a quick and thrilling ride, you’ll find a carousel worth the trip in our list.
Nearly a century old, Jane’s Carousel was created in the “heyday” of the American carousel frenzy. The Pritzker-prize winning company behind the ride, Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, had been crafting carousels for 17 years that would eventually end up in the country’s biggest parks, like Six Flags, Kings Dominion and Magic Kingdom. Jane’s Carousel was built in Ohio, restored in 1984 and is now located in Brooklyn, enclosed in glass for preservation and rain-free rides.
Price: $2 per ride, or 12 for $20
Hop on board one of the 64 horses on Cedar Downs Racing Derby, located within Cedar Point amusement park along the shore of Lake Erie. While it’s not quite as thrilling as the park’s intimidating roller coasters, Cedar Downs is in fact more than just a carousel: It’s a race horse. Challenge fellow park-goers to a 15 mph competition!
Price: $44.99 admission to park for adults, $29.99 for kids
Experience a bit of history at the Smithsonian Carousel located on the D.C. mall, just steps from the spot where the 1963 Washington D.C. Civil Rights March took place. One story has it that the carousel, which was originally located in Baltimore, became a symbol of the civil rights movement in that city when an African American family rode it the day the park became desegregated. It was moved to D.C. in 1981.
Price: $3.50 per ride
A Carousel for Missoula was the brainchild of a local cabinet-maker named Chuck Kaparich and the handiwork of Missoula volunteers. After restoring an old carousel from Butte, A Carousel for Missoula opened in May of 1995. Kaparich dedicated four years to the creation of the 11 mph ride, under one condition: never take it apart.
Price: $2.25 per ride for adults, $0.75 for children and seniors
If you seek big thrills, hundreds of angels suspended in air and thousands of flashing lights, perhaps the world’s largest indoor carousel inside House on the Rock is the carousel for you. The House itself is an enormous, museum-like building on top of Deer Shelter Rock, a sandstone formation in Wyoming Valley.
Price: Admission to the House varies by season and age from $8.95 to $29.95
Les Manèges d'Andréa, otherwise known as Andrea’s merry-go-round, was built in 1999 by La Machine, an art installation team led by François Delaroziér. Junkyard materials like wood, feathers, glass and copper were forged together to create the ride. The French carousel even features active steering wheels and levers for a more interactive experience.
Price: $2.79 USD per ride (€2,50)
The endangered species theme is actually quite common among zoo carousels – the Potawatomi, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Lincoln Park zoos all feature endangered animals on their carousels. But the first of them all, opened in 1994, is the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo Endangered Animals Carousel, designed to educate its riders about endangerment and the possibility of extinction.
Price: $2 per ride, plus cost of admission
The Melbourne Zoo Carousel dates back as far as the late 1800s, when it functioned by steam engine. The old-fashioned carousel was restored in 1997 – and while the steam engine is still on location, the present-day carousel is electric. To this day, 20 of the original 30 horses on the carousel are still in use after 130 years!
Price: $3 per ride, plus cost of admission
Another carousel located within an amusement park, Columbia Carousel isn’t the only ride in Six Flags Great America, but it might be the most fun. Columbia was built in 1976, along with its twin carousel in California’s Great America park – and both are the world’s tallest carousels. Columbia Carousel cost $1.5 million to build and features a pond surrounded by American flags.
Price: about $50 admission to park (varies with season)
One of the world’s oldest carousels, Crescent Park was first built in 1895. The ride, named for creator Charles Looff, was built for Crescent Park Amusement Park in Riverside, RI. Featuring 61 horses, two double-coaches, two single-coaches and a camel, the carousel gained well-deserved recognition throughout the years. After the amusement park closed in the late ‘70s, the carousel became a National Historic Landmark and is still open for rides in East Providence.
Price: $1 per ride
PIER 39’s most majestic feature must be the San Francisco Carousel, complete with hand-painted renderings of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower and Chinatown. Kids and families can ride sea lions, dolphins, panda bears or even spinning tubs – or take a relaxed ride in a chariot and people-watch along the lively pier.
Price: $3 per ride
This article was written by Caitlin Klask.