Skip to content

Seaside Stories

More than 30 Years of Good Times on Seaside’s Carousel

December 15, 2023 | by Rachel Bucci

Seaside’s known for its arcade games and vintage amusements, but only one makes your world turn — the Seaside Carousel. For more than 30 years, it has delighted generations of riders from its protected place indoors in the center of downtown. With tinkly music filling the air and more than two dozen fanciful animals to choose from, it’s easy to see why everyone from kids to grandparents loves this magical experience.

Take a Spin on a Rabbit or a Cat

Today the ride features more than two dozen fancifully painted animals, molded from historic wooden originals that were once housed at the now defunct American Carousel Museum. Among the animals is a rabbit, a cat with a fish in its mouth, ostriches, a pig and a dancing bear. Look for the prancing horses with real horse-hair tails and a pair of deer with real antlers. The pavilion itself is a work of art. It’s decorated with jesters, cornices with flowers and angels, mirrors, and plenty of lights. 

Open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving, the carousel draws more than 250,000 visitors a year, including Santa himself, who is known to take a spin or two during the holidays.  Around Halloween animals get into the spirit, donning masks and hats for trick-or-treating, and the music becomes a bit more spooky.

Susan Deshon, general manager of the Seaside Carousel Mall for 30 years, has seen firsthand how beloved the carousel is to residents and visitors alike. There have been proposals and even weddings on the carousel, she says. 

What’s the most popular animal? Deshon reveals it’s one that doesn’t exist in nature. Visitors love the hippocampus, a seahorse-like animal from Greek mythology. 

But her personal favorite is the cat with the fish. “I always ride the kitty because my kitty doesn’t let me ride her,” she says with a laugh.

How Seaside Got Its Famous Carousel

The story of Seaside’s carousel starts in the 1980s, with the opening of the mall where the ride is located. The mall’s owners, the Dodge family, would periodically have a small, portable carousel set up at the mall, but they longed for a permanent fixture to do their building proud.

To realize their dream, they enlisted the San Francisco-based Barrango Company to build a custom carousel. The world-renowned company had built carousels all over the world, including one for the Sultan of Brunei, and in 1990 they delivered a replica of a classic 30-foot-diameter carousel to Seaside.

While the Seaside Carousel isn’t historic, the location is. It’s built on the site of the former Bungalow Dance Hall — a storied building that helped catapult Seaside to regional renown in the days following World War I. With Seaside’s local population growing fast and tourism booming, the opening of the Bungalow Dance Hall in 1920 was seen as a way to entertain young people and draw tourists from all corners of the state.

Though the building was quite plain, it held a large crowd and drew headliners like Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller, as well as other stars of the big-band era. Couples danced the two-step, Charleston, jitterbug and foxtrot while circling the central bandstand and rubbed elbows with celebrities who sometimes dropped by. Clark Gable, who lived in Astoria for a spell in 1922 and later took a summer logging job in Seaside, frequented weekend dances at the Bungalow.

The parking lot was rumored to be the place to go for bootleg liquor during Prohibition, and the dance floor was sprinkled with talcum powder to ensure the most dizzying spins. When bands weren’t playing, the Bungalow’s dance floor transformed into a roller-skating rink.

The Bungalow was in decline by the mid-1960s, perhaps eclipsed by newer attractions like the nearby Gayway Amusement Park with its carnival rides, including not only a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel but also a popular carousel. When the park closed in the early 1980s, Seaside was left without a carousel, but not for long. As they say, what goes around comes around, and soon enough, the town’s current ride was ready for more generations of fun.

What Else You Can Do at Carousel Mall

When you’re in Seaside, be sure to visit the mall and take a spin. While you’re there, save time to explore the shops that fan out around the carousel. Grab a bento-box lunch at New Garden Asian Cuisine. Sip a coffee drink or Italian soda at Caffe Latte, and stop into Seaside Mostly Hats for a souvenir cap. There’s even more fun in the form of laser tag and arcade games, including what they claim is the world’s largest Pac-Man.

and so much more!

A Beach Bicycle Built for Two

Beach Bike Rentals in Seaside, Oregon

Seaside Is Your Whale-Watching Home Base

Want to see whales on the Oregon Coast? There’s no better home base than Seaside. Set yourself up in cozy beachfront lodgings, s...

Holidays in Seaside

Some say Seaside, Oregon, shines brightest in winter — warm chowder, cheerful shops, blustery walks on the beach, all without th...

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in Seaside

Seaside has many treasures “hidden” before our very eyes, ones we may take for granted because we don’t fully grasp their importance.

Salt Making in Seaside

A little history about the Salt Works; on December 28, 1805 the Lewis and Clark sent five men to establish a salt camp. Five days later, they found an ideal place on the seacoast fifteen miles southwest of Fort Clatsop (the seawater had a high salt content here, and game and wood were abundant).

An Adventure to Share

A winning family vacation in Seaside, Oregon

5 Ways to Stick to Your Healthy Resolutions in Seaside

The New Year is here, and along with it your New Year’s resolutions. If being more mindful about your health and well-being is o...

Dedicated to the Promenade

It's been nearly 92 years since the inaguration of Seaside's Promenade

Seaside Lifeguards: A Fond Seasonal Farewell

Can you believe it’s almost Labor Day Weekend? Don’t fret!  We’re still probably in for some dynamic weather throughout Sep...

Beach Reads for a Vicarious Escape

Chances are, you have more time to read right now than you have had in the past decade. And we all know, a good book can transport...

Klootchy Park's Sitka Spruce Tree
Near Seaside: Reviewing Klootchy Creek Park

Located adjacent to U.S. Highway 26, about 2.5 miles east of U.S. Highway 101, is the famous and previous national-record-breaking...

More than 30 Years of Good Times on Seaside’s Carousel

Seaside’s known for its arcade games and vintage amusements, but only one makes your world turn — the Seaside Carousel. For mo...

Seaside: More Than Just a Resort Town

Seaside is also a community of hard-working professionals

How to Build a Beach Campfire

It’s a longstanding Seaside tradition: listening to a crackling fire in concert with the crashing of the ocean waves. Campfires ...

Iconic Seaside in Stereo

by Joshua Heineman Director of Tourism Marketing This is something of a detective story. To fully appreciate it, you first need to...

A Family-Friendly, Car-Free Weekend in Seaside

When skies are blue and the weather’s warm, families flock to Seaside. If you’re looking to avoid traffic or search for a park...

Sea Foam on the shore's of The Cove in Seaside, Oregon
The Cove, Seaside’s Natural Treasure

Exploring Seaside's Cove, a natural wonder to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike

How to Have Fun in the Sand in Seaside

Seaside’s soft, wide and sometimes sun-kissed beaches make for the perfect family-friendly vacation. With miles of sand and welc...