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Difference Between a Merry-Go-Round and a Carousel?


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Hello.

 

I was under the impression that a carousel only has horses and a merry-go-round has a mixture of animals. However, internet searches come up with different answers....I don't believe most things that are posted on wikipedia.

 

Is this question like the jimmies vs sprinkles debate?

 

So I ask the trusted source of TPR to help me understand this mystery...are these nouns interchangeable?

 

Thank you.

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I think they've become interchangeable, at the very least. I've heard three different versions of the difference:

 

Carousels vs. Merry-Go-Rounds:

 

Horses vs. other animals

White lights vs. colored lights

Clockwise rotation vs. anti-clockwise

 

But none of those are actually true, in a practical sense. (Which is to say, you can find as many rides that violate those definitions as ones that adhere to them.)

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Never really thought of this before.

 

I guess I would associate merry-go-round typically with smaller, kiddy type rides.

 

Carousels I'd associate with much larger, grander, more family friendly rides.

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To me, it would be basically how grand of a scale the ride is on. To me, a merry-go-round does the same thing as a Carousel, but looks plain. A carousel has attention to detail, hard carved horses and an outstanding building.

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I've always thought the two terms were interchangeable, like the difference between a car and an automobile. "Carousel" comes across as a bit more classy as terms go.

 

Walt Disney, for instance, called his a "Carrousel' (with an extra "r" in the spelling for some reason), I believe, to distinguish it from the ones found at the carnivals that he did not want Disneyland to be patterned after.

 

This was a very interesting question, and hopefully we'll get a definitive answer to it.

 

Eric

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  • 2 weeks later...

To answer Joe's comment about spin direction, originally carousels spun counter-clockwise. They were designed as training devices for mounted combat. Since the Knight would carry his lance/sword in his right hand, the carousel spun counter-clockwise so this hand would be on the outside. Catch-the-ring models still spin counter-clockwise for the same reason (another example of discrimination against us lefties); but, in the era of amusements, the direction of spin ceased to be important and now we have them spinning in both directions. I seem to recall hearing that clockwise spinners may be more prevalent in America.

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Carousel, gallopers, roundabouts, merry-go-rounds, whirligigs, spinning or flying jennies, dip-twisters, or flying horses...they're all the same. Nothing distinctly differentiates one from the other (mind you, some of those terms are clearly outdated).

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^Almost, but not quite.... Flying horses are actually different than the others in that they coast back and forth (a good example still remains at Cedar Point) while all the others move up and down or are stationary (Philadelphia-style).

 

But your point is still mostly valid. They're all horses that go in a circle.

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I thought that Flying Horses referred to the old style ride built before they had a rotating floor platform. The horses were suspended by chains.

 

Of course to confuse things more, there is a ride called "The Flying Horse Carousel" in Rhode Island that is build as I have described above. There is a "Flying HorseS" carousel in Martha's Vineyard that has a platform, but the horses do not appear to move up and down.

 

Who knows?

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^You know, now that you say it that way, I think maybe that's what I was thinking of, not the "Derby Racer"-style of ride. I just remember researching a local park a few years back and finding a 1920s newspaper article that mentioned it had both a carousel and flying horses. I saw a photo from another source that looked like a Derby Racer, but maybe it was the chain-swing horses. Good call!

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While I know he's not the end-all, be-all source for this kind of thing, I do remember Dick Knoebel being asked this question at a presentation and he did say that Carousel's were made up of all horses and Merry-Go-Rounds had a variation of animals.

 

--Robb

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I have been doing some more research (all online so far--so take it for what it is worth)

 

 

From the International Museum of Carousel Art: http://www.carouselmuseum.com/language.html

 

Carousel: The most common of the many terms used to describe the classic amusement ride allowing people to ride carved wooden animals on a rotating platform. Other terms that have been used are Merry-go-round, roundabout, riding gallery, flying horses, and gallopers. The spelling of carousel has many options as well. Carousal, carrousel, carousell and several others have been used. There is no difference in the meaning of any of these terms.

 

 

 

From ThinkQuest Internet Fairground:

 

http://library.thinkquest.org/C002926/history/carousel2.html

 

In 1729, George Alexander Stevens wrote a poem where he talked about carousels. However, in his poem, he called them merry-go-rounds. The name stuck, and they have been fondly known by that name ever since.

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  • 1 month later...

A merry go round is the modern manafactured version that is electrically driven and features recorded music or no music at all. A true carousel is the genuine article that is steam powered and features live music from a carousel organ (or wurlitzer band organ for those in the us)

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Heres one for ya.

A Carousel is a ride that features a motor and horses, a merry-go-round is a ride that features no motor, and no horses. Carousels go up and down, merry-go-rounds spin the riders off if pushed too fast. Carousel = amusement park, merry-go-round = playground, and Nick-O-Round = a butchered Antique Carousel at Carowinds.

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^I love merry-go-rounds! I believe many were taken out because of liability issues, but one of my favorite parks in Portland has one, and I believe there are others around here.

 

As for the "horse/animal" ride, I appreciate that there are differences between what is technically a merry-go-round or a carousel, but I always have and always will use the terms interchangeably. I just think "merry-go-round" is too cute not to say.

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  • 9 years later...
^I love merry-go-rounds! I believe many were taken out because of liability issues, but one of my favorite parks in Portland has one, and I believe there are others around here.

 

As for the "horse/animal" ride, I appreciate that there are differences between what is technically a merry-go-round or a carousel, but I always have and always will use the terms interchangeably. I just think "merry-go-round" is too cute not to say.

 

Agreed completely.

 

 

(bumping this because Russ asked me after reading my Knoebels update, what is the difference -- since they call the Grand Carousel a Carousel, and the smaller one a "Merry Go Round")

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