Wichita’s Joyland carousel: Restoring childhood memories


It was a place where memories were made. 

“I got to Joyland and rode the carousel many times,” said Marty Miller, Botanica. 

“Went on school field trips, I even think I had a birthday party there,” said Kathy Sweeney, Botanica. 

“As a kid growing up, to be able to have that was a great experience,” said Dan Wilson, architect. 

One of the centerpieces of the park was the carousel. It is now 70 years old.  

“From the research that we have done, we feel like we have the only remaining 40 foot, 36 horse Herschell Carousel that was made back in that time period,” said Miller. 

RELATED LINK | Herschell Carousel Museum

Years after Joyland closed in 2004, former owners, the Nelson family, donated the piece to Botanica. 

That is when the wheels started turning on a project now two years in the making of getting the old carousel back up and running. 

“All of this thing was in pieces in a building out off of East Kellogg,” said Wilson. “I thought to myself, I’ve restored an old car, I can do this.”

Wilson is just one of several people who spends at least 20 hours a week working on each piece in this giant warehouse, owned by Roger Nelson, the son of the former Joyland owners. 

“Every piece was greasy and rusty and everything we took and had media blasted. All the metal, all the cast iron stuff.”


  • Carousel designed by Allan Herschell Company in 1949
  • Carousel spent 59 years of its life at Joyland
  • Five remaining Allan Herschell Carousels in the world
  • Botanica will be home to one of those five carousels

Surrounded by original Joyland memorabilia as they work, they’re taking old pieces of the carousel, from the old panels to the horses and adding new designs with the help of Wichita artists.

“The neat overall thing is that we are, in the graphics of this, maintaining the integrity of the classic character of this carousel in color for the most part and some of the graphics,” added Wilson.

The carousel gardens will house the old ride in a mostly glass building and will feature themed garden areas, party rooms, ponds and more. 

RELATED LINK | Botanica Carousel Gardens 

“It will house the carousel inside so it’ll be available all year round,” said Miller

The construction process is well underway, the creators imagining what each part will look like. 


“It’ll be lit up within the building, it’s gonna really be a sparkly, jewel-looking carousel in side this building,” said Miller.

And it wouldn’t be complete without an organ, one is being handmade to play music inside the carousel’s new home. 

“It will immulate the same sound that was at Joyland,” said Sweeney.

Hundreds of people in Wichita playing a part in making this dream come to life. Each of them bringing their own reason why.

“We take these projects to heart, and it’s the heart that goes in it that makes them special,” said Miller. 

A final resting place but also a fresh start for a piece of Wichita history.

“I would say that it’s a better than new machine,” added Wilson. “I think they will take away from it the ability to give their children the same experiences that I had as a kid, at least with one ride.”

RELATED LINK | Botanica Carousel Donation


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