Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

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We have a 10-year-old boy spending the weekend with us in NYC. I’ll share the details on that in tomorrow’s post about tonight’s Girlyman concert. 🙂

A few weeks ago, I walked over to Madison Square Garden and picked up three tickets to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I was able to get great seats. Nothing at MSG is cheap, but it wasn’t completely outrageous either. The show was scheduled to start at 11am.

We got there pretty early (a nice walk from the apartment, but very windy and cold). We spent some time browsing around in Borders, and finally went into the Garden at 10:40am. There was mayhem on the floor, as many people purchased an All Access Pass, which included a pre-show entry to the floor, where many of the performers and animals were out and about.

I’m glad we didn’t do that, because it looked crushing, but there’s no doubt that the people/kids who were down there were having a blast (being 10 feet from an elephant, for example), and it gave us something to gawk at as well.

They cleaned up very quickly when the pre-show was over, and actually had some clowns out warming up the crowd a few minutes before 11. The show started promptly at 11am.

It’s really not necessary to give specific details on the various acts, but I’ll summarize by saying that the entire experience is tons of fun and reasonably entertaining throughout the show. I was very pleasantly surprised at the length of the show. I assumed it would be 90 minutes (with or without an intermission). It turned out to be 140 minutes including a roughly 25 minute intermission.

There were many things that seemed to thrill the adults (me included) more than many of the kids. Part of the reason/problem is that many times, there are simultaneous performers doing things in different places in the arena. I can see how deciding what to watch can be distracting (even to adults). Of course, while clowns amuse kids physically, the humor itself is often way over their heads.

They bill themselves as The Greatest Show On Earth. Obviously, that depends on your taste. That said, from a pure spectacle point of view, it’s arguably an accurate description. There are so many peformers in the show it’s a little mind-boggling. Even though our tickets weren’t cheap, it’s hard to imagine a mathematical split of our collective fees that can even feed that many people and animals, let alone have them make a nice living. I’m sure they’ve worked it out, but still…

Speaking of money, these kinds of events are meant to soak parents out of every extra cent they own. The only two things we broke down and bought were a $7 box of popcorn (which was actually quite tasty, if not value priced) and a $15 DVD of the Circus itself.

We watched the DVD last night. It’s highlights of the show. We were actually quite pleased with the ability to relive the experience, even though it was only seven hours after we left. So, that too wasn’t a bad value. 🙂

On the other hand, a snow cone was $10 (but you got to keep the plastic cup). If you bought cotton candy, you got a circus hat which was like the one worn by the Cat In The Hat (but in circus colors). I think that was $12 or $15. Of course, kids screamed for every one of them, and parents often relented. It would have been trivial to spend more on the junk than on the tickets…

After the show, we walked up to the giant Toys ‘R Us in Times Square. It was so mobbed I can’t even describe it. Recession my foot! Yes, I know about the math of this supposedly dead economy, but everywhere I go (and yes, I mean everywhere), there are mobs of people, spending tons of money, on completely discretionary things, like circuses, concerts, toys, movies, Broadway, restaurants, etc.

A good time was had by all yesterday, with the adults possibly enjoying it even more than the kid. 😉