The carousel is a combination of old-world craftsmanship and timeless enjoyment. It owes its origins to the many European immigrants who brought the tradition with them when they came to the United States in the late 1800s.
San Diego is lucky enough to have three classic carousels: the Broadway Flying Horses Carousel in Seaport Village, the Balboa Park Carousel, and the Liberty Carousel in Belmont Park. The Balboa Park and Seaport Village carousels still have their original band organs, which are played occasionally. The merry-go-rounds at Seaport Village and Balboa Park San Diego are meticulously restored originals from the golden age of carousels. The Belmont Park carousel is an antique reproduction, with a series of 12 hand-painted scenes illustrating San Diego history, including a Spanish galleon, the Hotel del Coronado, and Lindbergh flying the Spirit of St. Louis over the Giant Dipper roller coaster.
The unmistakable carousel sound originally came from a musical apparatus called a band organ. Today the music on carousels is usually recorded. Although all three San Diego carousels include the graceful hand carved and painted horses typical of carousels, each is also a colorful menagerie of animals such as giraffes, cats, ostriches, dogs and goats. The oldest of the three San Diego carousels, Seaport Village Broadway Flying Horses, dates from 1890. The Balboa Park carousel, built in 1910, is one of the few in the world that continues to tempt riders with the brass ring, once an exciting game on many carousels.