Attractions: King Aurthur Carrousel, Fantasyland (1955)
Ambiance: Sword in the Stone, Fantasyland (1983)
Meetable Characters: Merlin
The case of King Arthur Carrousel is a curious one. One that I’m sure has been driving blog readers MAD ever since we cryptically included it in our Sleeping Beauty post. It all stems from the ambiguity over which movie it truly “belongs” to. On one hand, it is called “King Arthur Carrousel” but it was given this title all the way back at the parks opening which was a full eight years before The Sword in the Stone (1963) even premiered. And, this wasn’t a similar instance to the naming of Sleeping Beauty Castle five years before the movie hit theatres either – even Walt wasn’t prescient or genius enough to market a movie he didn’t even know he was making. So, really, this was just a generic name given to a carrousel meant to evoke the Medieval, tournament style theming surrounding it. Then, it was in 1975 that painted panels around the center pole depicting scenes from Sleeping Beauty were added to the attraction to tie in more closely with the castle. If this didn’t make matters confusing enough, a real life Sword in the Stone was then plopped down right in front of the carrousel during the oft mentioned 1983 Fantasyland remodel. So, if you’re keeping score at home, here’s a handy little timeline unofficially keeping track of its ownership.
And, what do we think of this murkiness? We love it! Why can’t a ride as generic as a carrousel represent multiple movies while still belonging to one? Plus, it pipes out music from multiple Disney films so it already presents an all-inclusive, Disney kind of vibe (sorta like my idea for the castle!). With that said, it makes me wish that the panels depicted many different movies – not just the one, to match its varied soundtrack. A perfect way to tie it all together though would have been to include the time-traveling Merlin appearing almost as an “Easter Egg” in the backgrounds of the various pictures. For example, Merlin could be poking out from behind the stairwell in the iconic dance scene from Beauty and the Beast (1991) or as an archer in the famous tournament sequence in Robin Hood (1973). This would be a great way to throw some dap at some of the lesser represented films in the park.
Another pre-movie reference was Merlin’s Magic Shop which was housed in the building next to Peter Pan’s Flight from Opening Day until it was unceremoniously removed during the 1983 remodel.
Another Merlin themed casualty was the highly popular Sword in the Stone Ceremony where children of all ages would gather around the Stone and Merlin would chose the “True King of England” to magically pull the sword from the anvil. Although it hasn’t been officially retired, the show has lay dormant for years. However, there have been rumours of a revival.
Before being moved to Disneyland, the carrousel was originally built in 1875, located in Toronto and was actually a Merry-Go-Round.
The horses were originally coloured black, grey, tan and reddish brown but it was the one white horse that was most popular. In 1975, they would replace all the coloureds with whites.
Each horse on the carousel has a name; a complete list is available at City Hall.
There are 85 horses but a few of my favourites are “Testy Pat,” “Merlin,” “Nipper” and “Screaming Eagle.”
All of the names correspond with a detail of the horse too. For example, “Crusader” has a cross and “Pegasus” has a golden wing.
As Walt’s favourite, “Jingles” is the lead horse and was dedicated to Julie Andrews in 2008 with decorative detail added of the talking parrot-handled umbrella from Mary Poppins painted on his saddle blanket along with a silhouette of Mary flying.
Only 68 horses are currently on the carrousel at one time as the extras are kept back stage and switched in and out for maintenance or repair.
The pipe organ from Dumbo the Flying Elephant also provides the soundtrack for the carrousel.