Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Circus World Museum

I am back from a summer break.  I took the week of the 4th of July off to spend with my family.  We did so many fun activities of which I hope to share with you in an upcoming lifestyle post.  Meanwhile, I am going to interrupt my midwest travel series to do a post on the Circus World Museum, one of the places we went to with my family.    I didn't want to postpone this post until my travel series is over, because it only has circus performances in the summer and I wanted to give this amazing place some free advertising; hoping that some of my readers might make it there this summer!

I have lived in Wisconsin most of my life, and I always knew about the Circus World Museum but I had never been there.  Dummy me thought it was just a museum where you learn about the circus world and see beautiful antique wagons.  Well, it is just that, but so much more!  In the summer, they do FIVE performances, plus there are camel and pony rides, a carousal, a train ride, and a children's play area.


The Circus World Museum is located in downtown Baraboo Wisconsin.  The site has 30 structures, seven National Historic Landmarks, and over 260 Circus wagons.


There was a large alligator statue right outside the museum, so of course we had to stop and take a picture!  The grandkids loved it!


Circus World Museum has 64 acres located along the beautiful Baraboo River.  Pictured below is the Big Top Tent where the main circus performance is held.  


The site of the Circus World today was home to the Ringling Bros Circus from 1884-1918.


The museum shows the history of the circus.  Circus World Museum opened in 1959 and the property was transferred to the Wisconsin Historical Society, who continue to operate the museum today.  The exhibits show the work and life of the Ringling Brothers, and everything and anything you could imagine connected to a circus, such as:  famous animal trainers, circus wagons, street parades, circus trains, side show attractions, clowns, logistics, etc.  

I've always loved vintage images, so my favorite part of the exhibit was all the antique Circus posters.  Did you know the Circus World Museum has one of the largest collections of circus posters in the world?  Yup! 9000 of them!


Circus World has 260 beautifully restored wagons and vehicles.  It is the largest collection of authentic circus wagons on earth!  It is worth coming to Circus World Museum just to see these gorgeous wagons.  They are works of art!


In the museum portion of Circus World they have incredible displays of old circus attractions.


My granddaughter loved the Cinderella carriage. 


The first show we went to was "Kid's World Circus" located in the Hippodrome (a smaller circus tent).  Here children were welcomed up on stage to put on a circus performance for their parents!  They play the part of performers and animals.  Here my grandaughter is playing the part of a lion.  She had to growl and jump through a hoop!


She really enjoyed being a star in a circus!


If the kids get restless there's a nice playground right next to the Cookhouse Grill.  



Being a lover of both art and antiques, I really enjoyed walking through the Deppe Wagon Pavilion to see all the beautiful and incredible wagons.  Here are just a few of my favorites.







They did have a guided circus wagon tour.  We stayed for part of it, but couldn't stay for all of it as the kids got restless.


Finally, it was time for the biggest event of the day:  the Big Top Circus.  This year's theme was "Blast Off" and started with a man walking on the moon (or upside down).


One of my favorite parts of the circus, and also the grandchildren's favorite part, was the poodles.  Oh my, they were so cute and fun to watch.  And you could just tell how much these dogs loved to perform.  They had so much joy and excitement.


This amazing gymnast showed off his incredible strength.


There were jugglers.


The Circus World Museum no longer has elephants, but they still have camels, lamas, and ponies.


My granddaughter loved this aerialists.


The same acrobat who displayed his incredible strength pictured four photos above, also returned to the ring with his wife to perform an amazing acrobatic performance.




They have several vintage trains set up on the property, which my grandson Elisha loved.  He's crazy about trains.  The train pictured below you could inside of.  It was a train once used to haul circus animals.



This tent showed all the freaky side shows circus used to have like the fat lady, the thin man, etc. 


Circus World has a working vintage carousal for the young uns'.  The rides are only $1.00 each!




I love old buildings, and Circus World still has many of their old circus buildings on the property that you can walk through.


A view of some of the old historic buildings as seen from across the river.  Of the 25 Ringling structures that once existed in Baraboo, ten remain:  all National Historic Landmark Structures.


These old buildings were once used to house animals, repair equipment, and practice and train.





I just loved all the circus animal statues.  They are so creative and artistic.  Baraboo has several cool circus animal statues located about town along with other circus theme signage and art.


The Camel House had really cool circus miniature displays that my grandkids just loved.  Kids love miniatures!  There is a mega miniature Circus display located inside the C.P. Fox Wagon Restoration Center that is not to be missed (not pictured here)!





Not all of the historic buildings are open to the public, but you can still enjoy them from the outside!


Well, it was time to round up the gang and head back home.  They were kinda out of control, so I had to put them in a cage. 😆


Circus World Museum has other performances I didn't get photos of.  There is a human cannonball once a day...my grandkids thought that was awesome!  They all have a musical performance, which we only saw half of because it was at 1:00 and we were just getting back from lunch.  My daughter really enjoyed the half we saw and wished we could have seen all of it...oh well...next time!

Circus World is open daily from 9:00 to 4:00 during performance season (May 17-September 1, 2024), and I strongly suggest getting there when it opens if you want to see and do everything.  We barely spent anytime in the museum portion as there was so much to read and with little kids, it wasn't possible.  My husband was disappointed in that as he is a huge history buff. But I noticed during their off season, tickets are only half price (they only do circus performances in the summer), so we will have to go back.

The admission is so inexpensive when you consider almost everything is included with admission (pony and camel rides, train rides, and the carousal are extra).  It is $23.00 for adults and teens, $20 for seniors, $15 for children ages 5-12, and children under 5 are free.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

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