April 14, 2021

Three Historic Carousels Ready for Family Fun in Montgomery County

The Carousel at Rio at top, Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel in middle,
Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park at the bottom

Carousels are timeless, family-fun adventures that get more intriguing with as they age. Montgomery County has three historic carousels—two that are more than 100 years old—and they are ready as the spring warm weather has returned.

The older the carousel, the more likely its vital parts have been restored and have become repainted works of art to make the rides even more memorable. Although the COVID-19 health crisis closed down many things over the past year, including the operation of carousels, the three Montgomery carousels are ready for riders of all ages.

Montgomery County’s carousels are the Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park, the Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel in Wheaton and the Carousel at Rio in Gaithersburg. The Visit Montgomery organization recommends finding time to ride at least one—if not all three—this year. Each provides unique photo opportunities that will become classic memories.

Operating hours, mask requirements and capacity restrictions may vary. Be sure to consult the specific carousel’s website before visiting.

Some details and history of each:

Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park / 7300 Macarthur Blvd./ Glen Echo

Celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2021 and considered one of the most beautiful carousels in the United States, the Glen Echo Park ride was installed in 1921 by the Dentzel Carousel Company of Germantown, Pa. The carousel is one of only 135 functioning antique carousels in the country and one of the few still in its original location. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Known as a “menagerie carousel” because of the variety of its animals, the Glen Echo Park carousel includes 40 horses, four rabbits, four ostriches, a giraffe, a deer, a lion and a tiger. It also features two circus chariots. With its playful animals and striking ornamentation, the carousel has been an iconic symbol of the historic park’s past as an amusement park and its evolution into the current arts and cultural center.

The carousel is expected to reopen for the summer season in May 2021. A virtual tour of the carousel with a National Park Service ranger is now viewable.

Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel / 2002 Shorefield Road / Wheaton

Constructed in 1915, the Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel in Wheaton Regional Park celebrated its 105th birthday in 2020. It features 33 jumping horses, three zebras and two chariots. Before moving to Montgomery County, it served as the Smithsonian Carousel on the National Mall from 1967 until 1981.

The hand-carved works of art are now open for the season. They also are nearby the Wheaton Miniature Train in Wheaton Regional Park.

The Carousel at Rio / 136 Boardwalk Pl. / Gaithersburg

The Carousel at Rio is presented by Adventist HealthCare’s Shady Grove Medical Center. The Americana-themed, classic carousel features 30 Allan Herschell-style dancing horses, whimsical creatures and two chariots. It has capacity for up to 38 adults and 30 children passengers, with wheelchair access and chariot wheelchair positions. It is located next to the playground at Rio and features expansive views of the lakefront.

For more ideas on how to have fun in Montgomery County, go to https://visitmontgomery.com.