The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round has 68 horses, but only one Julio Gosdinski. On Aug. 7, 2020 the co-owner of the iconic Los Angeles attraction – known as the place where Walt Disney came up with the idea for Disneyland – passed away, and now the future of the famous merry-go-round is uncertain.
Gosdinski became co-owner of the merry-go-round in 2011 when the previous owner passed away and left his share to him. However, his love affair with the attraction started 30+ years earlier when he was still a high school student.
Last year, during a visit to the merry-go-round with Adventures by Disney, Gosdinski told us the story of the famous benches where Walt Disney sat on Saturday mornings while his two young daughters enjoyed the ride. It was here, the story goes, that Walt came up with the idea to create a place where children and parents could have fun together. Godinski also revealed why we have him to thank for preserving that important piece of Disney history.
“When Walt was around, there were wooden benches all the way around – we now call those the Walt Disney-era benches,” Gosdinski told us. “One day, the city decided to replace them with cement benches, so we went around the park and found the benches.”
Gosdinski said they were only able to salvage three benches: One is in the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, one is in the lobby of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneyland park, and the third is still at the carousel, right where it belongs.
Although Gerry Hans, president of the Friends of Griffith Park board, said the group is committed to keeping the ride operational, there’s no one who knows the merry-go-round like Godinski, so while the long-term future of the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round may be uncertain, it’s place (and Gosdinski’s) in Los Angeles and Disney history is crystal clear.
The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round by the numbers:
- 1926 – The year the merry-go-round was built
- 1,500 – The number of tunes played by the custom-built pipe organ
- 93 – The age of the hand-carved horses (though there are a few that are 125 years old, including one Gosdinski named El Diablo)
- 14 – The miles-per-hour speed of the merry-go-round, though it can reach 25 miles-per-hour (most carousels only go 4-6 miles-per-hour)
Here’s a video of Gosdinski speaking to our Adventures by Disney group, and a point-of-view ride: