A new way to power carousels arrived with the 21st century: the sun. In 2005, William Henry Dentzel built the word's first solar-powered carousel, which continues to operate each August at California's SolFest event. Another solar-powered carousel, the Carousolar, uses 100 solar panels—each with an ultrathin-film module and a cadmium-telluride semiconductor—to turn on the sun's energy. Last November Washington's National Zoo opened the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel, which is powered by 162 solar panels. Rather than horses, it features endangered species, including a pair of giant pandas.
Built in 2009, Madagascar Institute's jet-powered ride in Brooklyn, N. Y., could just be the coolest carousel ever created. The steampunk merry-go-round features two dangling seats and no platform. Riders are strapped with jet-engines packs that, once ignited, blast them around and around.
Coming in October to New York City's Battery Park, the SeaGlass Pavilion is an aquatic-themed carousel whose fiberglass fish are embedded with LED lights that change color as you ride. Each fish will emit oceanic sounds through its own speaker, giving riders the sense that they’re swimming in the deep. The pavilion surrounding the carousel will feature 60 SmartClass panels that react to light and change their opacity depending on the amount of light passing through. When the lights dim, the panels will transform from transparent to cobalt blue, further enhancing the oceanic experience.