Saturday, May 18, 2013

Le Carrousel de Lancelot

Let's have a look at another Fantasyland attraction, Le Carrousel de Lancelot, or "Lancelot's Fanciful Carousel" as it's called in the safety spiel (and nowhere else, to my knowledge).

The merry-go-round in the castle courtyard can be found in each Disney Castle park, although every version has a different name: there's King Arthur Carrousel in Disneyland, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (formerly Cinderella's Golden Carrousel) in Walt Disney World, Castle Carrousel in Tokyo Disneyland and Cinderella Carousel in Hong Kong Disneyland. Note that all except Hong Kong's are written with two r's in Carousel, the European spelling in line with the old-world charm of Fantasyland.

While the inner rows of horses are reproductions of the antiques found in Walt Disney World's carousel, the horses in front, all dressed in ornate armor, were carved for the park by renowned Ohio artisan Joe Leonard. The blue-and-gold Lead Horse actually sports the woodcarver's initials (JPL) in its elaborate decoration, next to those of the park.

The 86 horses' colors are arranged in the order of a color wheel, with the outer horses being most saturated and colors gradually turning softer and lighter on the inner rows. There are also two chariots, Neptune's Chariot and the Queen's Chariot, which are the only actual antiques on the platform, built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in the early 1900s.

One other antique was purchased for the attraction: the Big Nelly band organ, built by Artizan Factories, New York State, around 1928. Reportedly this organ played live in the early years of the park, although I have yet to find direct evidence for this. The one found in the attraction today, in any case, is a non-functioning prop playing a pre-recorded music loop of Disney songs in band organ arrangement.

Some more trivia: Lancelot's Carousel is the only attraction in the park whose ride duration can be made longer or shorter to adapt to attendance levels.

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