Knoebels Carousel Museum
The Knoebels Carousel Museum is amazing. And it’s free! But I probably need to tell you a bit more than that.
I visited Knoebels for the first time a few weeks ago as part of a trip to Hersheypark. I really wasn’t prepared for the rich history of Knoebels. I knew about it, but I simply wasn’t ready for it. The Carousel Museum is a free attraction that is located near the Tilt-a-Whirl and close to (sort of) the International Food Court.
If you’re not paying attention, you’ll walk right past this semi-hidden gem.
What’s Inside the Knoebels Carousel Museum
The deceptively small building houses a trove of memorabilia concerning carousels and merry-go-rounds that dazzle the senses. It’s a little overwhelming at first. I suggest you just start walking and looking. The display is set-up in a circle (clever) with a menagerie in the center and more static displays along the walls.
Along the outer walls you’ll discover articles, photos and facts about the carousels of Knoebles and other local parks. There’s even the very first carousel ticket ever sold at Knoebels on display. You don’t have to read everything, but I urge you to check out the displays. You will learn so much about the carvers and the companies that created these rides.
The horses are gorgeous and reflect every age of the carousel years (roughly 1890s to the 1920s). There are prime examples of different carvers that showcase primitive styles and exotic beasts.
Throughout the museum are running boards, decorations, signage and other ephemeral pieces of different carousels.
Some of the horses are stunning in their simplicity when compared to their brethren of just a few years later.
The animals are close enough to get some wonderful photos of and see their details very close up.
It’s really hard to believe that each animal or horse was hand-carved and is close to, if not, a hundred years old.
Why Visit the Knoebels Carousel Museum
The Knoebels Carousel Museum offers something that you can’t find anywhere else, outside of a book about merry-go-rounds: actual history of the amusement park industry!
It’s a great way to tie the historic Knoebels carousel with the growth and evolution of the amusement industry. You can see how we went from very simply horses on mobile merry-go-rounds to royal steed that galloped five abreast on some of the largest and most extravagant carousels. It is simply stunning to see all of the horses and carousel pieces in one place.
It’s also a great spot to get out of the rain for a little while or get some air conditioning during the heat of the day. You could easily spend 45 minutes reading about the history of carousels in the museum. OR spend much more time, like I did.
You can get some wonderful photos while in the museum. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your camera or your camera angles.
Have you ever visited the Knoebels Carousel Museum?
Check out my video about the early history of the Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters Company that built many classic carousels:
Join me on Patreon!
Check out the ImagiNERDing Patreon page to be part of the ImagiNERD community. Get special updates, behind-the-scenes information and more!