Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (September 2016)

I haven’t seen the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus since I was a little kid.  I was 10 years old in the picture below.

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The circus has changed a little since I was a kid, but most of the stuff was still the same.  This time though I got to take my own kids to their first circus and they got a little extra spoiling from us.  The circus is great, but what is an event without a little special back stage tour!!!

 

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That’s right!  VIP Guest treatment!  There were only about 12 people on this tour, so it allowed the tour to be very personal for the kids.  We got to meet performers, see some special equipment, and find out the real magic behind the circus.  Although you weren’t there with us, you can join us on this virtual tour of what we were able to do.  Maybe if the circus comes to your town, you will consider the same thing for your family.  This year the circus is Circus Xtreme because it has the BMX Bikers performing, which is also the only American performers in the Circus.

The first part of our private tour was meeting the seamstress.  She talked about the many different costumes that the performers wear and what they have to do to maintain the uniforms since they do not make any of the items and can only do repairs on them.  She also informed us that they have a warehouse that is the size of a football stadium that has uniforms on all 3 levels.  Some of those uniforms even go back 40 years that the performers wear still.  The guy in the picture on the right is our tour guide and this is where they are talking about the mermaid tails.  Our tour guide is also a member of the circus and performs in the High Wire act and the Wheel of Steel act.  He is also the 4th generation in his family to perform in the circus.

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The next part of the costume tour was pretty great.  We were allowed to try on the costumes that the performers wear.  The heaviest costume jacket was 16 lbs.  It was shocking how heavy each one felt to wear and just made me realize that the performers are really sweating a lot while they are in the show.  I asked our oldest son if he was going to try on an outfit since all the kids were doing this and he said no several times.  Once I put on one and all the dads put on a costume, then he decided that he wanted to wear one.  Ugh, teenagers.

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Next on our tour we got to meet a man that has original art work, posters, and books for sale from the circus going back decades.  There was even this great piece.  An original Annie Oakley poster.

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We got to see some of the animals that perform in the show.  These animals here are still in training.  I had to capture a photo of these goats, because they are the biggest goats I have ever seen in my life.

 

Next up we got to see some of the vehicles the performers use to get around during the show.  The kids even got to climb into them.  All of these vehicles use to be old golf carts.  The vehicle in the middle is the Ring Masters platform that takes him around during the show.  The most interesting part though was that the Ring Master performs live for everything he is doing.  He sings a lot during the performance and our tour guide emphasized several times that the Ring Master when he is singing it is right then and not a recording.  The kids even got to climb in the cab of the Ring Master’s vehicle where the driver sits hidden inside.

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This is the backstage curtain where all the performers come out to perform for the audience. They opened the curtain a few times and we got to see some of the audience members during the reshow.  This part was fun because it was like we were getting ready for our own performance.  The kids really enjoyed this part and seeing people on the other side.

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The kids then got to meet this death defying performer.  The item behind them is a canon.  Yes, she is a human canon ball and is shot out of that cannon at 66 mph.  I had to explain to the kids that she is being fired out of the canon as fast as cars are driving on the highway.

 

The tour was over at this part and we got to exit stage right into the preshow area where we got to see clowns, the entrance to the stage (that is where we were standing behind earlier), the kids got clown noses, and even got to perform with some of the clowns.  It was a fun little experience before the show actually started.

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We even saw this weird looking clown.  He followed my family around everywhere.

 

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Time to take our seats because the show is starting.  Yes, we are that close to the performers.  Our seats were in Row 3, so we got to see everything up close.  The kids were just fascinated during the entire show.  Here are just a few photos of the performances during the show.

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A bunch of singing and dancing by all the performers as the warm up.

 

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The Ring Master on his rising platform still singing and performing for the crowd.  This was pretty impressive to see him performing on top of this little platform while his stage was being driven around.

 

We saw camels, tigers, and even MERMAIDS!!!  Youngest daughter and wife were really excited to see the mermaids.

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We saw some tight rope performances.  The picture on the left is our tour guide performing one of his acts.  The tight rope performance was really a sight to see.  The little ones were amazed and they had a look of worry that the people may fall off.  Although my youngest son said something like, “Okay, now jump off or fall off,” at some point in time.  I think they were most nervous once they started doing the balancing acts with the chairs.

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Up next came the woman that is fired out of the cannon that the kids met earlier in the backstage tour.  The kids were amazed at this part and seeing her actually flying through the sky.

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We had an intermission and saw a few other performances that weren’t that amazing, but then we got to see our Tour Guide again, but this time performing in his Wheel of Steel.

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Then we got to see the final act of the show, which is why the Circus was called Circus Xtreme; the BMX performers.  These are the only people in the show that are from America and two of the bikers were from Kansas City, MO where the show was being performed.

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The only thing that I could complain about was that during intermission someone stole our youngest daughter’s tiger souvenir cup, so we had to buy another one (those cups aren’t cheap).  After we left the show, the kids wanted to perform some acts of their own and climbed onto their oldest brothers back.  He’s 6’3″, so my daughter was terrified but my son thought it was the best thing ever.

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The show was great and it was a great experience to go back to again so many years later with my own kids.  They had a great time and this was a great family outing before the wife and I left for our Anniversary Trip to Cancun, Mexico!!!

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