For most of us, the merry-go-round was our first taste of a dizzying euphoria that would form long-lasting memories of our childhood. For others, the merry-go-round was where they learned the true meaning of terror, as they went round and round until they felt sick. Nevertheless, the merry-go-round has remained a popular fixture at carnivals, fairgrounds, and amusement parks across the world, and continues to bring delight (and sometimes nausea) to young and old alike.
So, what do you need to know about the merry-go-round? The first thing you need to know about a merry-go-round is that it can be a lot of fun! Merry-go-rounds typically have a circular platform that rotates around a central axis. Riders can stand on the platform or sit in one of the seats that are attached to the platform. As the platform revolves, riders experience a feeling of centrifugal force, which can be quite exhilarating. Modern merry-go-rounds have colorful decorations and lights, and often play cheerful music to create a festive atmosphere.
This post covers everything you need to know about merry-go-rounds. Read on to learn more.
What Is a Merry-Go-Round?
A merry-go-round is basically a rotating platform that is used for amusement rides. It typically has a circular or oval shape and rotates around a central axis.
Riders can stand on the platform or sit in one of the seats that are attached to the platform. Riders experience a feeling of centrifugal force as it rotates, which can be quite exhilarating.
Modern merry-go-rounds have colorful decorations and lights, and often play cheerful music to create a festive atmosphere.
Merry-go-rounds are also sometimes called carousels, although this term is technically inaccurate. Carousels were originally spinning machines used to display goods in shop windows.
The first merry-go-round is believed to have been invented in the early 18th century by a French cavalry officer, who designed it as a training exercise for his troops.
How Does a Merry-Go-Round Work?
A typical merry-go-round has a platform that rotates around a central axis. The platform is supported by a frame and is usually decorated with lights and other colorful decorations.
Seats are attached to the platform, and riders can sit on these seats or remain standing throughout the ride. As the platform rotates, riders experience a feeling of centrifugal force, which can be quite exhilarating.
Merry-go-rounds are powered by either an electric motor or a gasoline engine. The motor turns a wheel connected to the platform via a belt or chain.
Understanding the History of Merry-Go-Rounds
We have just mentioned that the first merry-go-round was invented in the early 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that they began to appear at fairgrounds and carnivals.
The early merry-go-rounds were powered by animals, such as horses or donkeys, walking in a circle around the central axis. These “animal merry-go-rounds” were very popular and could often be found at country fairs and markets.
As technology progressed, animal-powered merry-go-rounds were replaced by steam-powered versions. The new steam-powered models allowed for larger, more elaborate designs, and many of them featured ornate carvings and paintings.
Electricity eventually replaced steam as the power source of choice for merry-go-rounds, leading to even more elaborate designs, with lights and music becoming common features.
Design Changes Over the Years
Merry-go-rounds have conventionally been made of a steel platform with several handrails for grasping. The platform is mounted on a central support structure containing the gears and motor that power the ride.
Most merry-go-rounds have between 16 and 24 seats, which are attached to the outside edge of the platform. The seats are typically horses, but they can also be cars, airplanes, or other animals.
The main platform typically has a circular or oval shape and is supported by a central pole. The pole is usually made of wood or metal and is hollow to allow for the passage of electrical wires.
However, modern merry-go-rounds have evolved to feature sophisticated platforms fully decorated with painted scenes, carved figures, or other adornments. Many modern merry-go-rounds also feature lights and speakers that play music to make the ride more enjoyable and memorable.
Merry-go-rounds typically have a mechanism for starting and stopping the rotation of the platform. This is usually a large button or lever that is within easy reach of the operator.
The Different Types of Merry-Go-Rounds
There are different types of merry-go-rounds, each with its own unique features. Here are some of the most common:
1. Platform Merry-Go-Rounds
These are the most basic type of merry-go-round and usually have a circular or oval platform that rotates around a central axis. Riders can stand on the platform or sit in one of the seats that are attached to the platform.
2. Animal Merry-Go-Rounds
As the name suggests, these merry-go-rounds feature animals instead of seats. The animals are usually carved out of wood and are brightly painted. They are attached to the rotating platform, and riders can sit on them as the merry-go-round goes round and round.
3. Horse Merry-Go-Rounds
Horse merry-go-rounds are similar to animal merry-go-rounds, but as the name suggests, they feature horses instead of other animals. These are usually very large merry-go-rounds, with the horses often being life-sized or larger.
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4. Carousel Merry-Go-Rounds
Carousel merry-go-rounds are similar to platform merry-go-rounds but often feature more elaborate designs and decorations. They also typically have more seats, usually located in rows around the edge of the platform.
Merry-Go-Rounds in Popular Culture
The merry-go-round has been featured in many popular films and TV shows over the years. Here are some examples:
- The 1957 film The Tin Star features a scene where two characters fight on a merry-go-round.
- In the 1967 film The Jungle Book, the character Baloo is seen riding on a merry-go-round.
- A 1978 episode of the TV show The Love Boat features a scene where two characters share a kiss on a merry-go-round.
- The 1984 film Splash features a scene where the character Madison is seen riding on a merry-go-round.
- The 1999 film The Insider features a scene where the character Russell Crowe is seen riding on a merry-go-round.
The merry-go-round is also a popular subject of paintings, with many famous artists creating works that feature this iconic piece of machinery. Some examples include:
- The 1923 painting Merry-Go-Round by American artist Edward Hopper
- The 1953 painting Carousel by French artist Henri Matisse
- The 1966 painting Merry-Go-Round by American artist Roy Lichtenstein
- The 1972 painting Carousel by British artist David Hockney
- The 1981 painting Merry-Go-Round by American artist Andy Warhol
Furthermore, the merry-go-round is a popular subject of songs, with many artists writing songs that feature this piece of machinery. Some examples include:
- The 1904 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American composer Victor Herbert
- The 1916 song “On the Merry-Go-Round” by American composer Irving Berlin
- The 1930 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American composer Duke Ellington
- The 1934 song “Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” by American composer Cliff Friend
- The 1940 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American composer Cole Porter
- The 1963 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American band The Beach Boys
- The 1968 song “Merry-Go-Round” by British band The Kinks
- The 1975 song “Merry-Go-Round” by the American band Boston
- The 1980 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American band Blondie
- The 1985 song “Merry-Go-Round” by Australian band Midnight Oil
- The 1997 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American band Weezer
- The 2000 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American band Moby
- The 2002 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American band AFI
- The 2006 song “Merry-Go-Round” by British band Muse
- The 2010 song “Merry-Go-Round” by American band Katy Perry
How Safe Is the Merry-Go-Round
Generally, a merry-go-round is a very safe piece of playground equipment. However, some incidents have occurred where people have been injured while riding on them. In most cases, these injuries are caused by riders not following the safety rules, such as standing up while the merry-go-round is in motion or leaning too far over the edge.
There have also been a few incidents where faulty machinery has caused injuries. For example, in July 2010, a five-year-old girl in the UK was injured when the arm of the merry-go-round she was riding on snapped off.
When a merry-go-round is more than 20 inches in diameter, it must not be used for toddlers. The standing and sitting surfaces must not be more than 14 inches above the ground, so that if a child falls, they won’t hurt themselves.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued guidelines for the safe use of merry-go-rounds in the US. These guidelines state that riders should not stand up or lean over the edge while the merry-go-round is in motion. Riders should also keep their hands inside the handrails at all times.
Merry-go-rounds are inspected regularly to ensure that they are safe for use. However, it is always important to follow the safety rules to avoid injury.
How Much Is a Merry-Go-Round?
The cost of a merry-go-round varies depending on the size and type of machine. For example, a small, basic merry-go-round for toddlers might cost around $2,000, while a larger, more elaborate one could cost upwards of $50,000.
As you can see, the merry-go-round is a popular subject in many different forms of art. It is an iconic piece of machinery that has been around for centuries and shows no signs of going away anytime soon. So next time you see a merry-go-round, take a moment to appreciate its history and beauty.
Last update on 2023-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API