Geauga Lake's carousel nearly ready to ride again at Worlds of Fun

Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2011 11:52 AM | Contributed by JLovesee

Coming full circle, the original 1926 Illions carousel is nearly complete at Worlds of Fun, in Kansas City, MO. May 16, the final horse was attached, giving the ride its total of 64 horses and two chariots. While still a few weeks from opening to the public, the restoration performed by Carousel Works of Mansfield, OH, is finally, fully realized, and it is magnificent.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:52 AM

While its nice that the carousel will live on at another park, I'm a little disappointed the horses no longer tilt like they did at GL. It was a small detail, but it was kind of neat and allowed it to operate a little faster than most carousels I've been on.

For those who haven't noticed. Check out the first picture of the carousel at GL and notice how the horse is attached to the platform. It gave the ability for the horse to slightly tilt out from the bottom as it went faster. Now notice in the newer pics how the horses are attached to the platform.

At any rate, I'm glad its living on!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:13 PM

That is rather disappointing, but somewhat understandable, especially if they allow parents to stand next to the horse holding a kid, as is SOP at most parks these days. The problem with that is that the platform on this carousel is...or at least was...flat, which is the reason it had the sliding mechanism in the first place. If you look at a large Dentzel or PTC carousel carefully, you should notice that the horses are typically not hanging straight up and down, but are canted outward at the bottom, and usually (though not always) the platform is set at a corresponding angle, higher at the outer rim than at the center. This is two different methods to handle the same problem: keeping the ride from dragging the riders uncomfortably off of their horses. You can see the same technique used on the Racing Derby rides at Cedar Point and at Playland.

The linked page notes that the horses won't slide anymore, and also notes that they are slowing the ride down (BOO! HISS! What's wrong with 6.5 RPM?), but also mentions the safety belts it used to have, and gets the story wrong. The carousel ran without belts for many years at Geauga Lake, then mysteriously gained them in the middle of the 2003 season along with every other Six Flags carousel, and kept them in 2004 after Cedar Fair took over. Cedar Fair removed them for the 2005 or 2006 season, I suspect just as soon as they could get the State's +approval to do it. "Safety" belts are generally not recommended for carousels, and I have no idea why Six Flags suddenly decided to install them chain-wide during the 2003 season. The good news is that the ride is getting proper rigid iron stirrups, which is probably the smartest safety improvement they could make.

I'm happy to see they are going to use the band organ. In its last years at Geauga Lake it was maintained by a specialist nearby who did a great job with it. That's a big, elaborate organ with a terrific sound, and the ability to play very complicated rolls with ease (some organs don't have the capacity...either the pipes or the airflow) to handle some of the more complicated stuff). I just wish they would get the two band organs at Cedar Point working again!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:49 PM

I just wish they would get the two band organs at Cedar Point working again!

I second that. :-)

I have no idea how much it costs, but I'd be willing to be part of a first rider auction to help fund it if that were to help get the ball rolling.

*looks quizzically at the monitor and thinks out loud* Are you reading this Cedar Fair?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:54 PM

I took a lot of carousel rides with my son in 2007, standing along side of him and didn't have a problem with the horse sliding away from me. But I can attest that it felt much faster than the other carousels (Knoebels included) I've been on.

I get the safety stuff, I just wish they didn't take the fun out of things at the same time.

And yeah, I'm bummed about the state of Cedar Point's band organs. Just chalk it up to another detail that gets overlooked. Heck, there's a Solid State Pinball machine called "Flash" in the back of the Coliseum arcade that I'd be willing to donate my time getting working for them again. I have walked by it for the last 2 years with the same "out of order" sign. It uses the same parts as the machine I have in my basement (Black Knight).


Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:00 PM

^I was *addicted* to Black Knight when I was completing my undergraduate in the mid-80s. A quarter a day, and I'd end up trying to find a kid to give my 20-some credits to as I left for classes...better than spending those 2+ hours a day with my roommate at the time.

GL's Carousel is a true work of art, I am SO happy to see it getting a new issues notwithstanding.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 4:06 PM

I'm not surprised that they had the ride slowed down, and elimenated the swing out slots. Cedar Fair has a thing about turning these classics into oversized kiddie rides, and has for decades. The Columbus Zoo Mangels/Illions machine was also originally built with the swing out slots. I haven't seen it since the restoration, so I don't know whether or not it was altered or not. Illions started out supplying figures for Mangels before going into the business as a builder. He did buy his frames and machinery from Mangels. As far as the band organ,I'm delighted that they are going to use it, but for how long? The organ is a Stinson model 87 that sits behind the Illions built facade, so it's relatively new, compared to the rest of the organs that Cedar Fair owns. It uses two blowers supply the wind and vacuum needed for the organ to play instead of the traditional two sets of bellows/exhausters. This reduces the maintenace costs, as these components require high grade of heavy leather which is becoming more dificult to obtain. I recall that the original organ was destroyed when the shed it was stored in caught fire. This would have been before Funtime bought the park.

The seatbelt thing , well, I operated for years without them, with a machine that was 46' in diameter at a speed of 5.15RPM. Then DOSH came into being and they decided that I needed install them. I had more problems with them than I ever had without them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:54 PM

The Columbus Zoo machine still has the Mangels slide mechanism, but the units have been pinned in place for as long as I can remember, even back to operations at Wyandot..

I wasn't aware that the Geauga organ used blowers, but that would explain why it has the wind needed for some of the wild stuff it was playing. Do you know whether it runs rolls or if it is a MIDI machine? Personally, I don't care if band organs use leather bellows and paper roll tracker heads or not...electric blowers and electronic controls are fine with me, particularly since those updates make the system more reliable and stable...the important thing is that they are musical instruments, not sound reproducers. Music from reeded pipes, not speakers!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:08 AM

Amen to the above.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 10:08 AM

The last time I saw it was in 1999, and it was playing rolls on a duplex frame. Now if they sent it back to Don Stinson for rework it's very likely that it has been converted to a MIDI player system. The library of music available in MIDI contains a large portion of the Wurlitzer arrangements, as well as European arrangements of Gustav Bruder, Marcel von Boxtel as well as some contemporary arrangers in this country. Depending upon what kind of file player you use, you can get about two hours or longer of continious music before it repeats.


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