The Greatest Show on Earth

GeekMom Travel TV and Movies

Did you know the term geek originated from the circus?  It was originally used to describe “a performer engaging in bizarre act.” Even some of our comic book heroes owe their look and some abilities to the circus. Dick Grayson is a perfect example. Before his parents died, his family was the circus. The skills he learned as a trapeze artist would later help him as Robin, Nightwing and in some circles as Batman. The big top tent and the three rings you see in the comics are now part of history, welcoming in a new circus for the newer generations.

When I told my grandmother I was visiting the circus with Brandon she got all nostalgic. The circus coming to town was a big deal when she was a kid. Back then the circus was still performing under the “big top”. As a child she would go to the train station to watch the circus train come into town. She could recall watching the men put up “the big top”, the smell of the saw dust, the feel of the bench seats and the sounds of the house band playing.

America's Favorite Cowboy
America's Favorite Cowboy

I started to think about my son’s experience. We drove to an arena, parked in a garage and walked into an air conditioned building with soft seats. You couldn’t smell the animals, let alone any saw dust. Instead of a tight rope walker, we saw a tight rope riding motorcycle and aerialists. The special effects were amazing and in perfect synchronization to the events in front of us.  There was no lack of souvenirs to purchase as well as popcorn, cotton candy, and any other junk food you wanted to devour.  One thing I was surprised to see was a nine piece house band!

Just like in the old days, they are still a “traveling city“. The circus train is a mile long and carries all 80 performers from show to show. They even have a nursery and a school for the kids that tour with their parents. The performers travel with each other for the entire two year run of the show. I guess when you live within two inches to someone for that long; you become a family pretty quickly.

My son, Brandon, (6-years old), went nuts over the animals in the pre-show. During the show he showed a little less interest. I’m guessing it was because the animals were much further away this time. As they set up for the big cats, we were treated to the tight rope portion of the show. This wasn’t your grandmothers tight rope walkers. Ringling Brothers had tight rope riding motorcycles with aerialists underneath! The really amazing part was when the motorcycles rode the rope upside down and did a full 360.

Dragon Wisdom
Dragon Wisdom - Martial Artists

The funniest reaction Brandon had all night was with the fire jumpers. The martial artists brought out a circle of swords and jumped through with scary ease. One of the jumpers took out a metal hoop and placed it in the middle of the wheel. The performer then lit the hoop and set the wheel to turn. Another performer put on a black hood and got ready to jump thru. As soon as Brandon realized what was about to happen he yelled “DON’T DO IT!” The performer accomplished the feat with not so much a singe and my son relaxed again.

I have to admit the big cat trainer had me worried a few times. Those cats looked like they wanted to bite his stick in half. In the end he survived and the cats did a great job. The cutest part of the act was when Prince, one of the tigers, went up on a big disco ball and stood up on his hind legs. The ball started to turn and he kept perfect balance as if to say “Look at me, aren’t I cute?”

Tiger "Prince"
Tiger "Prince"

I knew the elephants would have a special part in the show, but I had forgotten just how neat it was to watch. Just like in the movies they walked the floor and did their balancing act. A pretty girl in a sparkly outfit rode on one of their trunks and eventually on their back.

During our backstage tour we got to see just how much is put into the show.  With everything we saw I was really amazed to hear that in only 18 hours they can have a venue set up and ready for the show. The setup of our new arena in Orlando is very different than what they have had in the past. Space is limited so they have to store a lot of the animals across the street under the parking garage. To get the animals to the show they have to stop traffic and walk them all across. Could you imagine driving down the road and seeing a lion, some tigers, and a few elephants blocking your path?

The clowns were by far my favorite part. I had the chance to meet a few and they were really down to earth. My favorite skit they did was after the martial artists. They came out and re-enacted the entire martial arts skit and it was hilarious. They never brought out the traditional small car, but I didn’t miss it. I was to busy laughing while they danced to “Kung Fu Fighting“.

Despite the many changes over the years, I think my son still had some of the same amazement in his eyes that I imagine my grandmother had at his age. The show might be longer, the performers and the effects different, but it is still an American classic and the Greatest Show on Earth!

“In exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.”

Circus Then and Now Comparison
Circus Then and Now Comparison

To experience Ringling Brothers in your town visit here.

To Get tickets for just $12 (plus facility and handling fees) by using promo code MOMMY at checkout on This offer is available for all tickets except Circus Celebrity, Front Row and VIP. Some performances may be excluded from this deal.

For those looking for something really special, try the VIP Family Four Pack, which includes 4 VIP tickets, 4 small Lemonades, 4 small Popcorn Boxes, and 4 jumbo Lollipops. The package is $170 and is a savings of over $50! To get this package use promo code FAMDEAL at checkout. Some performances may be excluded from this deal.
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7 thoughts on “The Greatest Show on Earth

  1. Well written and informative, but also a fun read with personal touches. That is what makes it so interesting.
    I loved going to the circus and this truly brought back great childhood memories.
    Thanks “Dakster”

  2. The “other” show (called “Gold”, I believe) just left the Pensacola Civic Center this past weekend. Alas, I was out of town and couldn’t take the kids. We last went in 2008 and it’s time to go again soon! Maybe we’ll go when they come to Mobile in March.

  3. Are you KIDDING me with this? Ringling was just slapped with the largest fine in US history for animal abuse. I’m not usually one to side with PETA, since their tactics aren’t the greatest, but on this issue they’re dead right. Supporting shows like this, where animals are exploited and tortured in order to entertain you, is reprehensible.

  4. I’m with Jess. I thought GeekMom was a site to find the intelligent, current woman’s take on her passions. Not on stupid hucksterism of “entertainment” that is mindlessly supported because it’s some kind of tradition.

    As Steven Pinker relates in his new book, we’re evolving into a more ethical species, as evidenced by the fact that many of our entertainments used to be so violent—–burning cats in the public square and making a festival out of hanging people, for example. I’d like to add any circus to that list. Want to see videos of what really happens?

  5. There will always be people who think the circus, Sea World, and zoos ought to be out of business. While the circus is not for me, it is something that kids do like. Heck I remember going to Ringling (that is where my despisement of clowns come from).

    I think the article itself is a good article. I would rather take a child to the circus, Sea World, or a zoo then some of the other activities that children are invovled in. I personally think should be crime to have a child participate in a beauty pagent (Toddlers & Tiaras is a prime example).

    With regards to the comment that “As Steven Pinker relates in his new book, we’re evolving into a more ethical species, as evidenced by the fact that many of our entertainments used to be so violent….” USED TO?? That is the biggest load of malarky I have heard in a while (I had a good laugh). Many of our entertainments are violent to this day; adults & children play violent video games, bullying, kids shooting kids, UFC cage fighting….

    It is up to the PARENTS to decide what THEY want their child exposed to and not exposed to as long as there is no harm to the child.

    1. Keki do you think your child would attend the circus if they knew the truth about the abuse these exotic animals suffer to entertain them? I doubt it because children would never want the animals they love harmed.

  6. I am trying to understand why mothers are willing to overlook Ringling Bros Circus USDA fines and promote them as family entertainment. In November they paid a record fine for $270,000 for 24 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
    In 2009 pictures of Ringling using bullhooks, electric prods, ropes and brute force to make these baby elephants perform circus tricks.
    This exotic circus animal abuse is so egregious and well documented that 13 members of House of Representatives are co-sponsoring H.R. Bill 3359 Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act.
    Why would any parent want to teach their child that animal abuse for entertainment is OK if we are having fun? I want to shield my family, not expose them to an organization that thinks nothing of beating their animal performers to entertain us.
    Dr. Joyce Poole is a world renowned elephant researcher of 35 years. She states:
    “How many children would choose to go to the circus if they knew what takes place behind the scenes? ….The totally unnatural existence for circus elephants is a travesty and to allow this practice to continue is unjustified and unethical.” Elephant

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