Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is Fully Charged

This week the boys and I headed down to Denver for our third year of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. I admit that I truly look forward to the circus, and this year it’s back at the Denver Coliseum until October 9th which has the fantastic benefit of FREE parking. Add to that the fantastic kid ticket price of just $10 (see my link at the bottom of this post), and you’re getting a world-class show that won’t break the bank. In fact, it’s cheaper than taking the kids to a movie. And you’ll enjoy it too.

I expected to love this performance. Every other year has been fantastic, and when I was invited to ask any questions I liked, meet the performers and see the animals, I was won over yet again. The Fully Charged theme worked best during the clowns performance – how many clowns does it take to change a light bulb? A lot. Those clowns were absolutely the funniest I’ve seen them. We all laughed a lot – it was really a great way to get the show really underway.

There really was something for all ages, although the show is one that if you have very small kids you should try and get to a matinee performance instead of an evening – I saw a few sleepy heads in the audience in the second half. My kids, aged 11, 13 and 17 each liked different parts of the show. The high wire, tigers, elephants, acrobats and Fearless Fernando Brothers on the twin turbines of steel were absolute hits.

My favourite act, however, was what I think of as classic circus, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen it – the two strongmen, Dmitry Nadolinkskiy and Rusian Gilmulin weigh over 300 pounds each. They spun massive logs and telegraph poles around like batons in a marching band. And then they amazed everyone by lifting each other up and showing exactly what it takes to be a strong man in the true sense of the word. Wow. They made it all look pretty easy, but when they then pick each other up, it’s pretty awe-inspiring.

My final tip is just to make sure you get your crew a good feed before heading down to the show. While parking at the Coliseum is free, you’ll do a full week’s paycheck at the concession stands if you turn up with hungry tummies. Oh, and don’t bother taking food in with you – bags are checked at the door. (Bugger. I know this is standard everywhere, but sheesh!)

Want to get tickets for your mob? Head to Ticketmaster to get kids’ tickets for only $10 if you use the code FFAKID. (I think that’s the same price as the popcorn at the concession. ;)) But concession prices aside, this show is one you don’t want to miss. It truly is the Greatest Show on Earth. I already have next year’s one on my calendar. In ink.

Disclosure: My children and I attended the circus as guests of Feld Entertainment for the purposes of an honest review.


  • Dr. Joyce Poole, PhD, elephant researcher of 36 years makes the following statement re: the undercover footage:

    “Filmed this year [2009], this video documents unquestionable abuse of elephants by Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The casual and repetitive manner in which the handlers strike the elephants demonstrates that such treatment is routine. What I have observed in the video is completely consistent with the evidence that I reviewed and documented in a 50-page report as an expert witness in the legal case against this circus for their mistreatment of elephants. In reviewing the material for the trial I watched hours of similar footage. As an expert in elephant social behavior I am sickened that human beings can treat innocent creatures in this manner – all in the name of entertainment and making a buck.” http://www.elephantvoices.org/dmdocuments_…ngling_2009.pdf

    Her science is peer-reviewed along with the science of Dr. Cynthia Moss, elephant researcher of 44 years who states:

    “It is our considered opinion that elephants should not be used in circuses….They are intelligent, highly social animals… Elephants in circuses are bought and sold, separated from companions, confined, chained and forced to stand for hours and frequently moved about in small compartments on trains or trucks….Domination of such a large animal must unavoidably involve an element of cruelty, often including the liberal use of…a bull-hook…a whip or an electric prod….” http://elephanttrust.org/node/414

  • I am glad you decided to contribute your thoughts, Janie’s Mom. Many people who attend Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus are familiar with the activists protesting the use of animals outside the stadiums. My decision to attend the circus was not undertaken without research – as I do with all companies I work with. There are two sides to every story, and it’s sometimes difficult to ascertain the facts from the fanaticism. I decided, after looking through the information, to attend the circus and review the show again this year, and will do so next year too. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have invited me to ask any questions of them I decide to ask – they pull no punches and are completely transparent to me in my information seeking. That’s a big deal. Additionally, I am impressed with their 24-hour staff of veterinarians, Elephant advocacy (I know you don’t see it that way), and the fact that this circus is, to my mind, the world’s best and most long-standing circus without any court judgment being recorded against the circus in spite of ongoing protests from passionate individuals such as yourself demonstrates that while you believe the circus is at fault for including animals, the courts do not agree. Thank you for taking the time to respond, and for reviewing your comment so I could add it to the story. Others are welcome to do so as well.

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