Friday, January 2, 2009

Another Horse Ride in Central Park

There are so many reasons to love Central Park, including this carousel. Central Park Carousel at 64th Street is a great work of folk art featuring the largest hand carved, hand painted carousel art figures ever constructed. I got the baddest of them all - the horse with the armor!

The current carousel was built in 1951. Can you believe that it was found abandoned in an old trolley terminal on Coney Island? This is much better than the original park carousel that opened in 1871 when it was powered by a blind mule and a horse which walked a treadmill in an underground pit.

This carousel spins around very fast. The adults that were on this ride with their children got off saying "man, that was the fastest carousel ride we've ever been on." We agree. It was a fun ride!

The carousel is open seven days a week and for $2 you get a 3 1/2 minute ride. It doesn't sound like much time but the short duration riding an antique wooden horse in the middle of Central Park is worth it.

We also spent some time at the Central Park Zoo. Unlike the 500 acre Bronx zoo, here you get to experience a small array of monkeys, otters, colorful jungle birds, bats, red pandas, snakes, puffins, and other creatures. One of the main reasons we went there was to see the polar bears (which we unfortunately didn't get to see). But we thoroughly enjoyed watching the zoo's main attraction - these seal lions. Kids really loved them.

We think he'll be the next Broadway star. He loved the attention from the audience.

We were surprised at the amount of penguins here. It was like watching a row of tap dancers in slow motion wearing tuxedos.

They swim right up to you - you feel like you could almost touch them (too bad the glass was separating us). The best part was watching them leap out of the water onto the rocks.

Snow monkeys and the exhibit's steamy hot tubs built to replicate Japan's hot springs.

Interesting scene - snow monkeys surrounded by high-rise buildings.

Part of the zoo's admission cost includes access to the Tisch Children's Zoo right across from the Central Park zoo. It's designed for children age 6 and under but the zoo can be enjoyed by us all (we certainly did). At the Enchanted Forest, the little ones can meet the animals up close, including petting and feeding them. The animals include goats, sheep, lamas, cows, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, and other furry animals. It really does feel like an enchanted forest with replicas of giant insects and a large spider web for kids to climb over. There's even a net that stretches overhead so the kids get the experience of a variety of birds fluttering around them. There's also the Acorn Theater that features daily performances that help kids learn about animals in a fun way. This is such a great interactive and child-friendly place (including padded floors). It makes me wish I grew up in New York City as a child.