The Grand Carousel

The Prancing Horses of Magic Mountain

by Dan Watson

The Grand Carousel at Six Flags Magic Mountain
The Grand  Carousel at Six Flags Magic Mountain, CA

She may be almost 105 years old (article written in 2016) and she may creek a little when she spins, but she's still a merry gal to go around with. She's the Grand Carousel at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Purchased in 1969, the carousel was packed up and moved from Connecticut to California. After a full year of restoration, the Grand Carousel was center stage in May 1971 when Magic Mountain first opened to the public.

Built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1912, the Grand Carousel had fallen on tough times when it was stationed at the once-famous Savin Rock Amusement Park in West Haven, Connecticut. The park had been closed for some time when Magic Mountain purchased the carousel for $300,000.

"The carousel was a big deal when we brought it out here to Magic Mountain," said Tim Burkhart, a director at Six Flags Magic Mountain. "It was a keystone attraction when we opened in 1971. Today, the carousel is widely accepted as the symbol of our industry," said Burkhart, who started with Magic Mountain in 1977.

Going Around

The 64 original, hand-carved, wooden horses were replaced with meticulous fiberglass copies created from molds and painted to mimic the originals. The original horses remain in storage.

Fiberglass copies of the 48 mechanical "jumpers" (the horses that move up and down) and the 16 stationary "prancer" horses, are powered by the original ring gear and supported by the original hub structures. The copies were built more than 40 years ago.

A handful of the original horses were restored. One of them makes "the rounds" these days as the annual President's Award, presented to departments at Magic Mountain for outstanding customer service.