Carousel Columbia is a stunning park icon. It’s taller than Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle by 33 feet!
But, has it been living a lie for nearly four decades? No, it really is the tallest carousel in the world (by one foot).
You see, since Marriott’s Great America opened up back in 1976, its been considered fact that the base of the ornate spire on the roof is actually a potbellied stove from the 1938 film, “Marie Antoinette” while the column caps are from “The Swan” in 1956.
So, having no social life on a Saturday night, I decided to see if I could spot the future carousel bits in some photos or video online. That’s when my jaw hit the floor – which if you know me well, is ACTUALLY a possibility.
Check out these screengrabs from the Swan’s theatrical trailer, via YouTube:
While we see what looks like the column caps in the sketch here:
Look what also shows up in the actual film:
Need a better angle? Here you go:
Now, for a comparison – here’s two shots from this week (2014) thanks to the magic of a 400mm lens with a 1.4x crop sensor:
Then, I was able to find a clip of “Marie Antoinette” and saw this, what appeared to be the capstone of the columns, but not quite:
That being said, has the park been getting it wrong for nearly 40 years?
Well, that’s where it gets tough. Hollywood is notorious for re-using props and sets. It’s very possible that the props could have been used and recycled in both films. Considering the artistry that went into building them, wouldn’t YOU want to recycle them to lower costs?
So, did the park get it wrong 40 years ago – what do YOU think? Watch the trailers and check out the photos for yourself – see if you can spot a piece of Carousel Columbia!
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Well, sometimes it’s not flattering – it’s just blatantly ripping off. Case in point: Kaeson Youth park in North Korea. Now, I’m pretty familiar with both entrances to the two Great America’s here in the United States (they were built as twin parks after all, back in the mid 1970’s…) They both feature a unique, double-decker carousel, which is actually just one carousel with two individual decks.
And apparently, someone who was allowed to make decisions in North Korea was familiar with the (almost) twin carousels, too. So much so, they decided to pluck it . The similarities are just uncanny – and with the worn-down look of the Korean park, it’s downright EERIE:
This just goes to show the impact of Randall Duell’s design – a ride as iconic as Carousel Columbia was actually copied (albeit badly) thousands of miles away. Just don’t get me started on the abnormally long first drop of the coaster next to it – that’ll be for another post!
Quite simply, this is one of the best long exposures I’ve ever taken. Done with a Nikon D7100, 24-70mm lens and NO tripod – just stayed as still as possible. Columbia is still the World’s Tallest Carousel as recognized by Guinness World Records at just over 101 feet tall.
As always, a big thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.
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