Saturday, January 31, 2015

Walt Disney World Carousel

Last week I was going through the scans that I had made of my friend Rol Summit's personal Viewmaster photos. Rol and his wife Jo are well-known collectors and restorers of antique carousel animals - not just horses either. Sea monsters, tigers, dragons, giraffes, ostriches, lions… you name it. Maybe I'll show some of his photos of those, at some point.

Among the pictures was a series of reels taken during Rol's visit to Arrow Dynamics in Mountain View, California… sometime around 1970-ish (I would assume). Disneyland die-hards will recognize the name "Arrow Dynamics" as the company that was so key in the design and construction of many classic attractions, including the Matterhorn Bobsleds (and its revolutionary tubular steel track), the various dark rides, and elements of Pirates of the Caribbean, Dumbo's Flying Elephants, Casey Jr., It's a Small World, and much more.

Rol's reason for visiting Arrow Dynamics was because they were in the midst of working on what would become "Cinderella's Golden Carrousel" at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Which is pretty cool!

The 90-horse ride was built using elements from a 1917 carrousel manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company that had been in Olympic Park (New Jersey). 

In most of these photos, the horses are pretty far along in their restoration. They've been cleaned and patched and wear gleaming coats of white paint. 

Look at this beauty! The level of craftsmanship on these vintage carrousels is just astonishing. Colorful paint and gold leaf are yet to come.

The horses are stampeding! One of the shelves behind these horses is labeled "ANTIQUE CAR"; Arrow built many Antique Car rides for parks all over the country, including one for the New York World's Fair. I wish I could read those other labels. Actually, I wish I could read.

Here's an interesting photo of one of the armored horses, completely stripped down to the bare wood. In the background to our left is what appears to be the back end of a "Grand Prix Raceway" vehicle!

I love this fantastic detail of an American Indian's profile, looking noble and proud.

There were over 30 photos, so I chose what I considered to be some of the best (some were not that great). I was very excited to get a glimpse into the early stages of the construction of what is now a classic ride. (In 2010, the name was changed to Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. Whatever!).

Many thanks to Rol Summit for letting me share some of his personal photos!

(If anybody out there knows Rol, please let me know if he's OK… I haven't been able to reach him for months. Fingers crossed).


Nanook said...


Wow, what a wonderful look back at history in the making. As you said - the level of carving detail is just astounding.

Thanks, Major

K. Martinez said...

Wow!! These are great! What beautiful work and restoration. Arrow Dynamics/Development was also located a few miles from me in Scotts Valley across the highway from Santa's Village (early 80's). I remember driving by and seeing partial steel coasters rising out of the yard being used for testing.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I'm glad you liked these. I learned from Rol that different carousel makers had different and distinct styles, and he could usually tell who had carved one just from looking at it.

K. Martinez, that must have been fun to see. Makes me think of the photos we've seen of Walt testing various rides (like a crude "Pirates" flume) on the Arrow grounds.

steve2wdw said...

This PTC carrousel (#46 I believe) is one of my favorites. When I browse my Magic Kingdom photos on my computer, I'm amazed at all the pics I have of the carrousel. A real band organ would make it perfect (although I know the central Florida weather would wreak havoc with it's workings). Thanks for posting these awesome pictures.