As the legend goes: Walt was on a bench while watching his daughters having fun riding the Merry-Go-Round at Griffith Park and pondered:
"...while they were on the merry-go-round, riding forty times or something, you know, I'd be sitting there trying to figure what you could do. And when I built the studio over there I thought, well gee, we oughtta have a, a really a three-dimensional thing that people could actually come and visit."
or as Diane Disney-Miller told it:
"When we were very young, we had a Sunday routine. Dad would drop us off at church, we'd go to our Sunday school classes and then to Griffith Park, where there was a beautiful carousel.
It's still there, a wonderful, beautiful thing. I'd ride the carousel over and over and over. There was some apparatus that had rings sticking out from a slot, and you'd grab a ring as you went by. If you got the gold ring, you got a free ride. One day I kept getting that gold ring and I felt so clever and I got all those free rides. Years later, I asked Dad, 'How'd I keep getting that gold ring?' 'Oh, I gave the kid a few dollars and he kept putting in the gold rings where you could get them.'"
and again, Walt:
"The idea of Disneyland lay dormant for years, but it came along when I was taking my kids around to these kiddie parks. I'd take them out...every Saturday and Sunday. Those were some of the happiest days of my life. They were in love with their dad...And while they were on the merry-go-round riding around 40 times or something, I'd be sitting there trying to figure out what you could do." "
Today, the Merry-Go-Round that served as inspiration for the "Happiest Place on Earth" is now on the endangered historical places list. Recently, I chatted with Rosemary West, owner and proprietor of The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, a 1926 Spillman with four rows of jumping horses. Among the most beautiful and rare machines in the world.
Mechanically, this most cherished of Southern California attractions is sound, with over twenty-five years of tender loving care by its benefactors, Rosemary and her partner, Warren Deasy. Aesthetic restoration is, however, painfully slow as most of the funds required come from their own pockets.
Also, the 2007 Southern California fires has had a devastating effect on ticket sales, and an imminent refurbishment of water and sewer lines cutting off access during the high season threatens the very existence of this long beloved site.
Still, the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round operates EVERY weekend to the sound of it's beautiful organ and the glee of children and their smiling parents. Stay tuned to the Mouse Lounge and other Disney fan-based message boards for more information on how YOU can and should contribute to bring this historical landmark back to it's gleaming glory!.
Together...we can keep the dream alive and jumping!
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