Carousel of Happiness, Nederland

4.9
#1 of 8 in Things to do in Nederland
The story of the Carousel of Happiness is the story of a young Marine, a derelict carousel, and the small mountain town of Nederland, CO. It starts in 1910 when a Looff carousel was installed at Saltair Park, outside Salt Lake City, Utah. During its 49 years at Saltair, the carousel survived fires and wind storms. It was moved to the Utah State School where it was enjoyed by people with disabilities until 1986, when it was sold and stripped of its wooden horses.

Meanwhile, a young Marine in Vietnam, Scott Harrison, (pictured at the right) received a tiny music box that he held to his ear to balance the horror of war. He began to dream of building a carousel in a mountain meadow. Decades later, when Scott heard of the empty, abandoned Utah carousel, he rescued it. He would spend 26 years carving animals to bring it back to life. As he finished the last of 35 animals, the community of Nederland pulled together and raised money to build it a home.

The Carousel opened Memorial Day, 2010, with the first ride a silent memorial to veterans. A little over a year later, the Carousel awarded its 100,000th rider a special card, giving her free rides for life. The winner was a 5-year-old girl who was living in Boulder while her father was deployed in Iraq. The Carousel has become a destination for families, senior groups, organizations serving people with disabilities, parties and weddings. A local dating Website called it a perfect place for a first date.

As a non-profit organization, the Carousel relies on volunteers and donations to keep rides $1 so that everyone can experience that feeling of joy.
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Carousel of Happiness Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5.0
237 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • Awwww! We loved the Carousel of Happiness. Fun for adults all the way to babies! Great history behind the building of it too. Made us happy for sure!!  more »
  • Become a child again and ride the unique carousel of happiness where twirling swans turn into little girls and every animal is different, unique and hand carved. A real labour of love conceived on the battlefields of Vietnam by a young 19year old soldier. I loved it so much I had to visit twice... The caurosel is not the only attraction housed in this unique building because up some stairs is a magical puppet theatre which puppets to play with. Downstairs is a great little gift shop.
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  • I Love This Place ! I took my seven year old niece here and we had a great time. Just the walk over there was wonderful was exciting, With the Flags Flapping and the Sun Flashing on the Gold. As you e...  more »
Google
  • Awesome classic carousel! Every animal is hand carved and painted. Great fun for the kiddos. You can see the inner workings and gears which is really fascinating. The operator was nice and made it a great experience. They do birthday parties with unlimited rides. Definitely worth a trip- even without the kids.
  • A not-to-be missed Visit to a working piece of Performance Art. As a local, we visit frequently, and enjoy ourselves every time. Adults - RIDE THE CAROUSEL!! Why let the kids have all the fun? The rainbow Zebra is my fave - which unique animal will you pick?? Inexpensive, delightful, whimsical, and massively entertaining. Make it part of a day trip to Nederland.
  • The carousel is amazing as a story and a work of art, and is fun as a ride too. The kids loved riding, and loved having their pictures taken with some of the animals. Upstairs there's a small puppet theater and play area, with some picture books as well. The kids had a good time playing here too. A really cool spot to check out with or without little ones. Excellent coffee nearby doesn't hurt.
  • One of the most special places around Boulder. The history of the carousel and the meaning behind it, along with the hand carved animals makes this one of my favorite places to take out of town guests. It can’t help but put a smile on your face.
  • You feel part of a larger experience once you read the history of this carousel. The craftsmanship of each of the animals and the story of their creator breath life into the experience. Both kids and the young at heart will enjoy this experience.
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