The newest addition to Long Beach’s El Dorado Park is chomping at the bit to make its debut.
The Crystal Corral Carousel, a 36-foot ride in the El Dorado Frontier featuring gold and silver horses galloping through Gold Rush-era California, opened Saturday, Dec. 14.
The carousel is the latest installation in the mini-theme park, which seeks to entertain kids while educating them about local history. Other forthcoming features include an animatronic storytelling tree, a permanent concessions area and a space for live entertainment.
The carousel was years in the making. Its unique design and the original, Western-style music that plays as it spins, are, according to owner and creator Patrick Wolovich, the result of what was initially a stroke of bad luck.
“We bought it from Florida, sight unseen,” Wolovich said.
Although the original plan was simply to include a traditional carousel in the park, the spiraling ride arrived in less-than-ideal condition: Horses were missing legs and tails. Everything needed a new paint job.
“We basically had to strip it down,” Wolovich said, “and start from scratch.”
Since his team would have to undertake significant work just to make the carousel presentable, Wolovich said, they figured they might as well go the extra mile and customize the ride to fit in with the rest of the 19th-century-themed park.
They painted the carousel to look as if it were an antique. They added images of horseshoes, trains and pickaxes.
They composed new music to play throughout the three-minute ride, with narration that takes the riders on a journey to deliver the town’s gold to the mint. It starts with the horses trotting, warns the riders about approaching bandits and guides them to safety.
“It’s kind of immersive, in a sense,” Wolovich said, “in a way that makes it more than just a carousel.”
Wolovich said he’s excited about the carousel’s opening, which he said provides just one more way to achieve the park’s mission: to help kids learn about the area’s history — and to let them have fun while doing it.
“It’s entertainment, but it’s all educational,” he said. “Everything we do has some kind of education behind it.”
Operating hours will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Go to theeldoradofrontier.com for more information.