Inspired by the Griffith Park carousel, Walt Disney wanted something similar for his new theme park: a carousel consisting of all jumpers. A park model Menagerie Carousel was purchased and moved to Disneyland in 1954. The carousel was built by William Dentzel in 1875 and had been operated at Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 1922, it had three courses of horses and other animals on a platform 22 meters in diameter.
The carousel was refurbished and significantly altered in preparation for opening day. It was widened to four courses to increase guest capacity. Of its 71 horses and one mule, most were carved in the Dentzel factory in the late 19th and early 20th century. To add the outermost course, several carved wooden horses were acquired from a Stein and Goldstein carousel, others from Coney Island's Looff carousel, and more carved horses from various other carousels from around North America. Many arrived with crude repairs, such as newspaper-stuffed papier-mâché legs. Standers on the original three rows were converted to jumpers by removing the legs and carving new ones. Custom-built crankshafts were installed overhead to operate each horse as a jumper in motion. The original, ornately hand-carved, wooden chariots were removed, and their woodwork was repurposed to decorate the "calliope" tenders and passenger cars of the Casey Jr. Circus Train. A Wurlitzer #157 Band Organ face decorates the carousel, but does not operate. Motifs from Sleeping Beauty were added to the carousel and the princess and the jester head motifs have been refinished in 18k gold leaf.
In preparation for Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration, the Happiest Homecoming on Earth, the carousel was closed for extensive renovations and reopened in February 2003. These included an entirely rebuilt turntable platform, a new computerized operating console and system which halts the carousel each time at the same spot, removal of a row of four horses to accommodate a four-course-wide chariot and wheelchair clamps with an access ramp for ADA compliance, which reduced the count of horses to 68. In January 2010, the stirrups of each outer-course horse were replaced to include additional lower loops, increasing accessibility.
Because of the overwhelming popularity of the carousel's single white horse, since 1975 all horses have been painted white. Each one has a name; a complete list is available at City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A.
Jingles is the lead horse, and Walt's favorite, named for its very ornate carvings which include beautiful straps of jingle bells hanging from her saddle and cantle. For Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration, she was repainted gold from nose to tail, trimmed in 18k gold leaf and set apart as a photo opportunity near the Dumbo Flying Elephants queue. When she was reinstalled as lead horse after the Year of a Million Dreams campaign, major portions of her were painted over, except where the gold bells and trim are showing through, with exceptionally striking translucent treatment of the rosettes on her head. Decoration detail was painted on her saddle blanket representing the talking parrot-handled umbrella from Mary Poppins, and in four quarters as a crest upon her kneepad - the monogram "JA", a robin perched upon high button shoes, the silhouette of Mary in flight and a number 50 representing the 50 Magical Years anniversary of the carousel - all showing through in gold with blue outline. She was then ceremoniously dedicated to Julie Andrews on April 8, 2008.
Sword in the Stone Ceremony
Inspired by the legend of Excalibur from The Sword in the Stone, Merlin hosts a ceremony nearby to determine which guest can pull the sword from the stone to become king for a day.
"By proclamation of Arthur, the right and true king, and lord of all the land, it is time to select a temporary ruler of the realm...to safeguard and protect the kingdom while good King Arthur is on vacation."