I Geek Disney: Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Carrousel

Walk into a Disney park and everything tells a tale. From the windows on Main Street to the themeing of each land, everything has been thought out, giving everything detail or a rich history. Walk through Adventureland and you’ll feel as if you’re in the jungle where you can climb a tree house where a stranded family lives, take a safari cruise seeing wild animals or even encounter pirates. As you keep walking through Adventureland eventually you’ll find yourself in Frontierland. Missing the gradual changes in the themeing the next thing you know is you’re there, but, if you walk and look you’ll see the subtle changes beginning to happen.

Rides have a tale to tell to, be it the journey to Never Never Land, seeing the Seven Dwarfs mine, reliving Ariel becoming a human, or even riding Cinderella’s carrousel. Many of these tales only existed in film form before the ride was created, but the Magic Kingdom’s carrousel existed even before Disney told the tale of Cinderella on film.

Before it was ever known as “Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel” it was originally known as PTC #46. Manufactured by Philadelphia Toboggan Company, which was founded in 1904 by Henry Auchy and Chester Albright, the company was known for making wooden roller coaster cars (which they’re still known for over the last century) as well as carrousels. The year varies depending on which website you go to on when PTC #46 was built. Some say it was 1916, others 1917, but if you look on the Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster (their new name) website, it says it was 1918, making this carrousel 96 years old. Philadelphia Toboggan Company made 87 carrousels, 35 of which still function today.

The PTC #46 horses were carved from Maplewood by some of the finest Italian woodcarvers. Each horse was carved differently, so none are alike. Dubbed “The Liberty Carrousel”, its first home was in Detroit’s Belle Isle Park. In 1928 The Liberty Carrousel, which is 60 feet in diameter, was transferred to its second home in Maple Wood, NJ’s Olympic Park. It would stay there well after the park closed in 1965.

Carrousels of course play a huge reason we have Disney parks today. When Walt’s daughters, Diane and Sharon, were young, every Saturday was “Daddy Day”. A day spent with their father, away from the studio where they would do something together. One of the favorite places for the girls was the carrousel in Griffith Park. Walt would sit on a bench watching his daughters ride the carrousel horses, thinking to himself there should be a place where a family could go together and enjoy themselves doing everything, not for the kids to ride and the parents to sit and wait. Thus the idea for Disneyland was born.

In 1967 Disney Imagineers bought The Liberty Carrousel. The Imagineers re-furbed the ride, keeping the original wooden horses, making fiberglass casts of those that had to be replaced, and painting every horse white, since heroes always rode white horses. Each white horse had different colors decorating them, and they even removed four original carved benches from the carrousel to fit more horses, bringing the horse count to 90. Each horse was numbered, the number appearing on the horses bridle.

Once the carrousel was installed in The Magic Kingdom Roy O. Disney was walking through during construction and noticed that, when looking at the carrousel through the Cinderella castle doors, the ride wasn’t centered in the view.  He had it moved so it would be.  Something no doubt Walt would have done himself.

Rounding out the re-furb of PTC #46 was 18 hand painted panels that sit above the carrousel telling the tale of Cinderella, and 2,300 lights to light the ride at night. Originally named “Cinderella’s Golden Carousel” in 1971, the ride had a re-furb in 1997, removing some horses so a bench could be put back on to let those who can’t ride the horses still have a chance to go on the carrousel, making the horse count 86.

On June 1st, 2010 Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel was renamed “The Prince Charming Regal Carrousel”. The themeing behind the new name went now that Cinderella and Prince Charming were married and lived in the castle; peace reigned over the kingdom, so Prince Charming took to jousting. To practice, he built an invention that helped him to practice using his lance to ring-spear. The device had a horse he sat on that went in circles. His subjects liked it so much he had one built for them to enjoy.

Horse number 37 is said to be Cinderella’s horse (look for the gold bow on its tail) while the horse next to it, number 20, is known to be Prince Charming’s horse.

This blog is dedicated to my beautiful wife Mrs. Nostalgia who recommended writing it.  One year on a Disney trip we rode the carrousel. I have a picture of her on it looking as beautiful as the day we met.  It’s one of my favorite Disney memories.

 

Nostl.

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