Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village is nestled within 544 acres of scenic, historic surroundings of Forest Park and houses one of only two known surviving carousels designed by world-renowned artist, Daniel Carl Muller. It’s also an NYC Designated Landmark. Located in the north boundary of Woodhaven, the Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village, the historic landmark is gearing up for its 115th anniversary.
Despite having only been at Forest Park for 45 years, the current carousel was built in 1903 by world-renowned artist and carver Daniel Muller. It is one of the two carousels left that he and his brother Alfred, hand-carved. For about 50 years, another carousel stood where the Muller carousel now stands. In 1966, a raging fire destroyed the original carousel at Forest Park, according to the Long Island Daily Press.
William H. Dentzel of Philadelphia built the Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village in Woodhaven in 1918 in the factory started by his father, Gustave, in 1868. Daniel Muller, one of the greatest master carousel carvers, carved the horses, lions, and simulated leather saddles. The wooden arm of one of the outside horses held the metal ring that could be reached when you sat on the horse. A brass ring granted you a free ride if you were lucky enough to get it.
“Tony” was regarded as one of the best mounts. It was a black horse that moved up and down and had a canteen and pistol. Other horses that moved up and down were also highly regarded by the children, while stationary horses were less so. Swallow carts were only used by grandmothers holding infants. It was replaced in the 1970s with a Muller merry-go-round formerly used at the defunct Lakeview amusement park in Dracut, Mass. It is one of only two Muller carousels still operating in the U.S.; the other is located at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.
The carousel operated continuously until 2008, save for a brief period during the late 1980s when it was closed for renovation. In 2008, the Parks Department shut the ride down after it failed to reach an agreement with its previous operator.
The beloved ride would remain closed for four years until the city Parks Department selected a new operator. To the delight of children of all ages, the Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village began spinning again in 2012, with New York Carousel Entertainment operating the ride on the Parks Department’s behalf. It figures that generations of children will get to enjoy the Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village for decades to come, as the city Landmarks Preservation Commission granted it landmark status in 2013.
Carousel operators are planning to expand the Amusement Village more as it transitions from a single-ride operation to a small family amusement park. Additionally, the Frog Hopper ride will be making its second appearance at the Amusement Village following its success last season.
“We are very excited to share our off-season work with all our guests,” said Daeshawn Grimes, operations manager of the Forest Park Carousel. “Last year, we introduced the Frog Hopper ride and have a grand surprise in store for returning and new visitors which will debut early summer.”
Food and beverages are available at the Carousel Cafe daily, and free weekend entertainment begins May 26. Tickets start at $3.50 per ride or game and can be purchased individually or in bulk at discounted rates.
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