In the heart of Fantasyland lies an attraction that takes guests on a whirlwind tour of the surrounding area while making them feel like royalty. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is the focal point of Fantasyland and is not only entertaining to guests of all ages, but is also deeply rooted in history.
When Walt Disney’s daughters were young, he would spend every Saturday with them as “Daddy’s Day” and they would often visit Griffith Park which was close by to the Disney Studios in California. Walt’s daughters would often ride the carousel while he watched, and he wished for a place where children and their parents alike could enjoy amusement rides together. Thus, on a bench in Griffith Park did Walt Disney come up with the first idea for what eventually became Disneyland.
Once Disneyland became a reality, it was only fitting that a carousel be prominently featured after its role in Disney’s original idea. On Disneyland’s opening day, July 17, 1955, King Arthur’s Carousel opened along with many other attractions and marked a tradition for future Fantasyland’s around the world. On April 15, 1983 the Castle Carrousel opened in Tokyo Disneyland, on April 12, 1992 Le Carrousel de Lancelot opened in Disneyland Paris, and on September 12, 2005 the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel opened in Hong Kong Disneyland.
While the Walt Disney World version of the attraction opened with the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971 the carousel had a long and rich history before it ever became part of the Disney universe. Build in 1917 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company it was originally called The Liberty Carousel and could be found in Belle Isle Park in Detroit. In 1928, the carousel was refurbished and relocated to Olympic Park in Maplewood, New Jersey which closed in the mid-1960s. It was there that Imagineers found it in 1967 and thought it would be perfect for Disney World where it was named Cinderella’s Golden Carousel until it was changed in 2010 to Prince Charming Regal Carrousel.
Upon acquiring ownership of the carousel, Disney conducted an extensive refurbishment. The original seventy two horses were all restored and eighteen more were added bringing the total number of horses to ninety. Imagineers also removed the four chariots, however one was added back in 1997 to accommodate guests with disabilities. Each horse was made to be completely unique with their own decorative garnishes including helmets, armor, and ribbons. Each horse also has a unique number stamped into its bridle. The Imagineers also added eighteen hand painted panels on the top of the carousel which tell the story of Cinderella. While construction was occurring on the Magic Kingdom, the carousel even needed to be moved in its entirety! Roy Disney was walking through the construction one day when he noticed that looking through Cinderella Castle that the carousel was actually off center. Once it was moved into its proper position it was ready for guests of all ages to enjoy time and time again.
Once through the gates and ready to board, guests can enjoy the opportunity of picking out their own special horse and then enjoy the slowly whirling view of Fantasyland including Cinderella Castle and the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. My favorite part of the entire attraction is the organ which plays numerous Disney classic songs including “Be Our Guest,” “Chim Chim Cheree,” and “When You Wish Upon A Star.” For those guests looking for an even more magical ride, see if you can spot Cinderella’s horse- he has a gold ribbon woven through his tail.
While many guests embrace the tradition of taking a photo on Dumbo the Flying Elephant to commemorate every Disney vacation, my family focused on the carousel. For each trip we took, we have close up photos of each of us on an individual horse and looking back over the years it’s amazing to look through the photos and see how much we have all grown and changed. It makes a great tradition to try with your family!
So the next time you find yourself in the Magic Kingdom, be sure to stop by the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel for a circular tour of Fantasyland complete with music and beautiful horses!
What is your favorite part of the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel? Do you have a favorite horse that you try to ride every time? What is your family tradition for each visit? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
(Photos from my personal collection.)