Dentzel Carousel

A carousel featuring a colorful menagerie of horses and other animals lit by a huge number of lights and mirrors.
Dentzel Carousel (2003)


Ride the carousel

Get tickets and take a ride on the historic Dentzel Carousel! Tickets are $5 per person for all day on weekdays and $5 per person for a 4-hour time slot on weekends and holidays.

Check the carousel schedule.


During Glen Echo Amusement Park's glory days as an amusement park, the Dentzel Carousel was the jewel of the park. The carousel remains the park's treasured centerpiece.

The Dentzel Carousel Company built the carousel, which the amusement park installed in a 12-sided canopy building in 1921.

Dentzel Carousels are known for their realistic, graceful animals and elaborate carvings. The Glen Echo carousel is called a "menagerie carousel" because of it is made up of many different animals. The 40 horses, 4 rabbits, 4 ostriches, giraffe, deer, lion, and tiger stand in three concentric rings. The carousel moves to the music of a Wurlitzer band organ, which pipes out music using a system similar to a player piano. Only 12 Wurlitzer organs of this style are known to exist.

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A police officer confronts a protestor on the Dentzel carousel in 1960.


Civil rights protests at the Dentzel Carousel

The carousel was also the location of the initial civil rights protest at Glen Echo Park in 1960. At that time, the amusement park was segregated: only people with white skin were permitted to use the park and ride the rides. While whites whirled around on the park's attractions, black children who wanted to participate were excluded, left outside the gate only to hear what fun others were having inside.

Civil rights protestors organized to picket Glen Echo Park, and called for desegregation of the park. On the evening of June 30, 1960, Laurence Henry, a 26-year-old Howard University student, led approximately two dozen “Non-violent Action Group” (NAG) members, both black and white, and two high school students on a protest of Glen Echo Amusement Park. After the high school students were turned away at the park's entrance, Henry and others rushed to the carousel, with ride tickets, purchased on their behalf by white protesters. Once seated, they were confronted by state-deputized security guard Frank Collins. Five of the protesters were arrested.

The protest sparked continued demonstrations at the park, until it was finally desegregated the following year, 1961. Those who were arrested in 1960 were eventually cleared by the courts in 1964, who cited that their arrest violated the 14th Amendment.

Today, visitors can still sit on the same animals the protesters sat on.


Saving the carousel

When the amusement park closed in 1968, the carousel was sold off along with other ride equipment. If not for the dedicated work of local citizens, this incredible piece of history and art might have been lost forever.

Glen Echo town councilwoman Nancy Long organized a successful fundraising drive to buy back the park's beloved carousel. Local residents mounted an aggressive campaign that raised $80,000 in private funds to buy the carousel from an organization that had purchased it after the park closed. An additional $10,000 assured the return of the Wurlitzer organ.

The carousel and organ were donated to the National Park Service with the understanding that they would remain at Glen Echo Park and be operated for public enjoyment.

Carousel Rehabilitation

In 2019-2020, the carousel underwent major restoration to repair the roof, touch up murals, rehab the organ, and keep the carousel looking its best and running smoothly. Learn more about the restoration.

Last updated: June 26, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

7300 MacArthur Boulevard
Glen Echo, MD 20812


301 320-1400

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