Ringling Brothers Circus to Close in May

Discussion in 'Non-Disney Entertainment' started by FerretAfros, Jan 15, 2017.

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  1. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    In a surprising move, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey have announced that they will close their circus after 146 years of touring
    Ringling Bros. circus closing show after 146 years

    It's certainly been a long time since I've been to the circus, but I can't help feeling like this is sort of the end of an era. There are other smaller touring circuses still around in the US, but by far Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey were *the* circus, even more than Disney's ownership of the theme park concept. I wonder if one of the smaller groups will take the place of honor, or if this is the beginning of the end for US circuses. It sounds like they'll be stopping in my area, so I may have to go for one last hurrah

    It should also be noted that Feld Entertainment operates the circus, which is the same company behind Disney on Ice and other Disney touring productions. While I doubt that it will have a direct impact on the Disney productions, it wouldn't surprise me to see some changes in the next few years
     
  2. Jim in Merced CA

    Jim in Merced CA Moderator

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    I was surprised to read this too. Then I tried to remember the last time I attended a Ringling Bros. circus, or any circus for that matter. Maybe 45 years ago.

    It's like when FAO Schwarz went out of business a few years back. Then I realized I didn't really buy much from FAO.

    Seems that long-time brands like Sears and Kmart and even Macy's are having trouble too.

    I hope Trump is happy - ruining America like this.
     
  3. iamsally

    iamsally Well-Known Member

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    Thanks at least in part to PETA.
     
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  4. Dabob2

    Dabob2 Well-Known Member

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    The last time I saw Ringling Bros. was in the early 80's; I had a friend who was a clown (no kidding) with RB, so I made sure to go see it.

    Circus is an ancient form of entertainment and I doubt it will die completely. Obviously Cirque du Soleil has proven the viability of the format - without animals of course, but the desire to see human beings do remarkable things with their bodies is about as elemental as it gets. And people still love dog acts and horses and other animal acts as long as they're confident that the animals aren't being mistreated, so I do think smaller operations will continue, albeit perhaps getting by on the skin of their teeth.
     
  5. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    Was FAO Schwarz a national chain (prior to their last few years)? I always associated them with NYC, which means the vast majority of people wouldn't ever buy anything there. I know they expanded toward the end, probably leading in part to their downfall, but they never had a super wide reach

    But I guess it's a similar story: a specialty product/experience that people found reasonable alternatives to. FAO had a reputation for being rather expensive; I don't know what circus tickets cost, but with all that's involved in a travelling production like that I suspect they're pretty expensive for family entertainment
     
  6. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure that's a big factor. One article I read discussed a huge decline in sales after they removed elephants from the shows last year. Having trained exotic animals may not be a politically popular option (nor one that could necessarily last forever), but it certainly brought people to the show

    One of the most amazing circus acts I've ever seen was in a decidedly in-PETA-friendly circus in China, which involved a monkey standing on the back of a goat, standing on the back of a hippo. I didn't even know that goats or hippos could be trained, which made it that much more impressive, in addition to the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. You'd certainly never see something like that in the US these days
     
  7. iamsally

    iamsally Well-Known Member

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    I hope you all realize my PETA comment was sarcasm. Seeing as how we raise goats, chickens and rabbits and eat the meat, drink the milk and eat the eggs.
    And yes, goats are very smart and highly trainable. It is just that goat owners rarely take the time to do so. Once they have mastered "NO" and will go to the milk stand willingly; we usually call it good.
     
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  8. Jim in Merced CA

    Jim in Merced CA Moderator

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    That's true. One of the many buyers of the FAO Schwarz brand started the big expansion in 1990. With a peak of 40 stores across the USA.

    2001 began the big sell off.

    Now they're back to one location in New York City.

    And maybe that's okay. Like the Disney Store, how many do we ultimately need in the world?
     
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  9. DAR1974

    DAR1974 Active Member

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    We have the Circus World Museum here is Central Wisconsin so I imagine that will be the go to now for any circus buffs. I think I went to one once, don't really remember much
     
  10. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    I went to the Circus World museum as a kid, along with the parade in Milwaukee. Both felt more like museums than actual circuses, but they were certainly enjoyable. I don't remember seeing any live acts at the museum, and the parade was more of a traditional procession (to invite people in the current city to come to the circus's latest location) with relatively little performing along the way

    Given that Baraboo was the original home of the Ringling Brothers, leading to the museum being placed there, I would expect some items from the current show will wind up there. Hopefully they'll find a way to keep some performances too

    EDIT: I vaguely remember being at some sort of circus-type performance at the Circus World Museum, but from what I remember our view was terrible so we left shortly after arriving. But that was many years ago, so who knows if I'm remembering it correctly
     
  11. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    Even the New York store closed in 2015. There are no longer any FAO Schwarz stores. During its last couple years, it was owned by Toys R Us, but they sold the brand off a couple months ago. From what I've read, the new owners plan to focus on branding a line of toys to be sold in other stores rather than any effort to restart the retail chain.
     
  12. Phroobar

    Phroobar Moderator

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    Did you ever get the feeling that special interest groups are eroding the fun out of life?
     
  13. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how much fun it is watching elephants being tortured. Once the cat's out of the bag, it's kind of difficult to just enjoy the circus. (See also: Sea World.)

    But the fact that none of us has been to the circus in forever indicates that it was a lost cause anyway. The elephant thing just accelerated the inevitable.
     
  14. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    But it also sounds like none of us were really in the target market for circuses (families with young kids) any time recently. Sure, there are other issues at play, but the demographics of this group aren't exactly the demographics of an average circus audience

    I also have to wonder if some of the high-profile accidents in recent years also played into the decline. With animal acts there are obvious ones like Ray Horne's attack by a white tiger in Vegas, and for acrobat acts there are things like the "chandelier" collapse a couple years ago. It seems like those sorts of things happen just often enough to lurk in the back of your mind when you think about going to one of these types of shows
     
  15. iamsally

    iamsally Well-Known Member

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    They are called death defying acts for a reason. People come out to see someone defy death. And then get all upset if someone actually dies.
     
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  16. Phroobar

    Phroobar Moderator

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    If that were true no one would watch NASCAR. The only point to NASCAR is to wait for the crash.
     
  17. Jim in Merced CA

    Jim in Merced CA Moderator

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    (Doing my best Johnny Carson impression) - "I DID not know that."
     

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