This year, the Grand Carousel at Six Flags Magic Mountain is officially a “centenarian” — marking its 100th birthday in grand style. The carousel has been a treasured fixture since the park’s debut in 1971, but was actually built 59 years earlier.
In the late 1960s, when plans were in motion to create Magic Mountain, developers decided on a carousel as a centerpiece attraction. Rather than buying a new one, they looked for a historic carousel to refurbish — and found a gem of a model built in 1912 by Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC).
Built by the carousel masters
Founded in 1904, PTC today is world-renowned for its carousels and wooden roller coasters. The Magic Mountain all-wood model was called “PTC #21” — so-named because it was the 21st of the 94 carousels built, or rebuilt, over the years by PTC. The number 21 is engraved on the Grand Carousel’s center pole.
From east coast to west
PTC #21 was first installed in West Haven, CT. According to the National Carousel Association, PTC #21 was moved to Milford, CT, and then Hartford, CT before returning to West Haven and a long run at Savin Rock Amusement Park. There it remained until the park closed in 1966. In 1969, the Grand Carousel found its new home on the west coast, at Six Flags Magic Mountain — serving as a key attraction in the park’s 1971 opening.
Carousels from PTC represent some of the finest examples of carousel art in America. The original Grand Carousel featured a 57-foot diameter platform and 64 hand-carved wooden horses, in 16 rows of four, and two chariots. Of these 64, 48 horses are “jumpers,” going up as the carousel rotates, and 16 are “standers,” remaining stationary while the ride is in motion. Over time, the chariots were removed and the wooden horses replaced with fiberglass reproductions crafted by making molds of the original horses.
In their prime, thousands of carousels were found throughout the United States. Today, just a few hundred remain. The Grand Carousel provides a unique opportunity to recapture days gone by — and create cherished memories for days to come.