August 22nd, 2012 at 5:00 am
Forty miles north of Madison, in Baraboo, Wisconsin, you’ll find the original site of the Ringling Bros. Circus, now home to Circus World—part museum, part circus adventure. Our weekend visit enthralled even my hard-to-impress teens.
In addition to typical museum exhibits, a day at Circus World is sprinkled with interactive things to do and see, including:
- A live magic show in a brand new “Theatre of Illusion” featuring magician Tristan Crist.
- Pony and elephant rides.
- Circus workshop where kids practice tightrope walking and juggling.
- The largest collection of restored circus wagons in the world.
- A play park.
- A working carousel.
We arrived at 1:00 and, when the park closed at 6:00 p.m., we all wished we had more time.
The most exciting part of the day was the big top, an intimate, one-ring circus. The performers pulled volunteers from the audience, and all the kids were invited down to the ring at the end of the show. My kids giggled at the Pekinese puppy show and clowns’ crazy antics. In this age of virtual experiences, seeing live acts with people who have learned their craft over many generations is still a thrill.
A Wisconsin family with three little kids sat right in front of us, on the edge of their seats. Rachael, age four, told me she loved Lady Dancer, the dancing horse, best. “The lady looked like a fairy princess,” she said. Her big brother, Jake (age 5), was much more impressed with the elephants. “I got to ride the old one,” said Jake. “He was really smooth.”
Circus World is open year around and reasonably priced, so next time you’re in the Midwest, add Baraboo to your itinerary. And Jake is right. The elephants are the coolest part.