Pictured here is a diagram taken from a recent patent application for a new breed of carousel from Disney Enterprises. At first glance, you’ll notice some interesting deviations from what we’ve come to known as a carousel, standard fare for any amusement park, even parks such as the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
What you may not notice at first, however — and it may not in fact be intentional in the drawing — is that the horses are backwards — at least for this side of the Atlantic. Traditionally speaking, American carousels travel in a counter-clockwise direction whereas European travel in a clockwise direction. So while you will generally see the horses face to the right at Disney theme parks (even at Disneyland Paris), these horses are facing the opposite direction.
Why that is, however, is not as important as the rest of the rest of the patent. The intent behind the new carousel design is to actually address what it sees as current problems with the existing, popular design as well as to plus the guest experience while on the attraction.
One problem that the patent defines with existing implementations has to do with the horses being configured to move up and down while the carousel is in motion. This means that when the ride cycle ends, the horse can be in any position along its y-axis, making it difficult for children and many adults to unload and load from the carousel, particularly when the horse is at its highest point. The new design addresses for this by ensuring that all of the horses are always at their lowest point between cycles, making the loading and unloading process easier.
But an even bigger change to the design is breaking the attraction up into a series of two or more concentric circles that can move independently of each other — not just in speed, but in direction as well. This means that not only can the horses effectively ‘race’ each other, but they could perhaps even spin around and travel in the opposite direction of the horses next to it, creating a ‘Dueling Dumbo’ effect.
The patent application goes on further to describe variations of attractions that can also leverage this technology. Pictured here is a different kind of attraction in which there are three rings. Vehicles are placed on the outer rings, facing each other, with the middle ring used as a transport for obstructions. By varying speeds and directions on all three rings, a classic shoot’em up type attraction receives a whole new spin.