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My husband wants to take our 3.5yr old to the circus.
Me, besides the troubling issues with the Circus and the
treatment of animals, don't think it is for a 3.5yr old.
I am concerned that a child that age would see all the
acrobatics and try to imitate them for a disastrous result.
Am I way out of line? I thought the circus is for elementary
age kids - more like 8-12yrs. What is typical?
Don't send me the clowns.
I took my 4 y.o. to the circus and she loved it! I am sure your
son would too.
no clowning around
Your child is the perfect age for the circus, although s/he might enjoy a smaller
or at least close up seats better. S/he will still believe in all the magic of it,
s/he already has a tendency to try dangerous stunts, s/he won't try any. It should be
Issues of content are probably best left to your judgment as parent. The real
is whether your 3.5 year old will have the attention span for the circus. We took our
child at 4 to the Ringling Bros. Circus and were out by the intermission. He liked
animals before hand where he could talk to the keepers. The pre-show was also pretty
good, but it was a lot to take in at once. The next year we went to the Circus
family circus by the Oakland airport. Much smaller, more intimate, shorter program,
less slick. The combination of another year of maturity and a less overwhelming
experience made it a lot more enjoyable. Our child, the daredevil that he is, did not
try anything at home - even the motorcycles in the cage. Watch for the smaller
circuses when they come through and look for things like the Circus Center in SF when
they have recitals, the Prescott circus, and the annual arts benefit in Alameda.
My concerns are more along these issues:
Attention span and ability to sit in seat for long time - it's a
Too much to focus on apart from the show - venue, other people,
kids who have treats (they sell a lot of souvenirs),
Some parts are full of tension and can be frightening.
Some action hard to see, depending on your seat and can be
As for wanting to copy the acrobats - think of the millions of
children all over the world for generations who have seen
acrobats. Now think of one story of a kid injuring themselves
trying to copy the act on the monkey bars.
I think most kids understand that they can't do what they see in
the circus. They might pretend in a safe way to do the acts. Kids
don't like getting hurt, they don't want to fall.
Besides, your child might be fascinated with the lion tamer and
find the trapeze part boring... Look out, Fido!
Mom of Two
You're right. 3.5 years is too young for the circus. It's more
likely to be scary and overwhelming than entertaining. Sensory
overload, loud music, scary-painted clowns falling and hurting
themselves/each other, big animals, etc. A lot of the stuff will
simply go right over a toddler's head - they won't necessarily
understand the awesomeness of a juggler or aerialist.
There have been some family-friendly circuses in the Bay Area -
Pickle Family Circus and Seven Finger to name a couple. Check out
the Chron's datebook or something.
I was watching Cirque do Soleil last time it was in San
Francisco. A very young girl and her doting mom and dad were
sitting in fabulous front row center seats. The child let out an
agonized wail almost as soon as the action started and was
obviously terrified. After a while (too long) the parents finally
faced the fact that this was a mistake and left.
There are big shows that come by (at the Coliseum for example) -
like Sesame Street on Ice, Disney on Ice, etc that are much more
gentle and toddler-oriented than your average Barnum and Bailey.
Timing is everything
There are some smaller venue circuses that might be perfect for
a younger child. I recall one coming to town several years ago
called Circus chimera? (something like that)
I think you are overreacting when you mention that your child
would try to minic the acrobatics of a circus act. Just my two
cents. Let your husband take the kid while you go have a mani-
pedi or a nice hike alone.
Save the circus trip for a trip to see Cirque Du Soleil next time they're in town.
don't use any animals and the shows are just amazing!!
We have taken our 5 year old to see them twice, once when he was 2 and once when he
was 4 and he has loved it both times. When he was 2 there were a couple parts that
were too ''scary'' but he just closed his eyes and then he was fine. He has not
attempted to imitate any of the acts at home but he's also a very cautious child.
Cirque Du Soleil lover
Unless your child is in the habit of trying to do the things he
sees, I think you are being overly cautious. I took my child to
the circus when he was 3 and a half. He did not then decide to
climb a pole and walk a tightrope. Let him go, he'll have fun.
Isn't that the point?
I took my then 4.5 year old to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
last August. Having done it, I now think she was too young. The 2
hour performance was about 50% too long for her attention span,
which I consider very good for her age. She was neither impressed
by nor even really interested in the acrobatics, so we did not
have the problem of her imitating it, but she frankly was more
interested in observing the girls in the audience. I think she
was too young to recognize the unusual in what the acrobats did.
She did love the animal performances and was disappointed that
there were not more of them. Bottom line, I will not take our
younger child this early, but wait until he is 5 or 6. Hope this
Somebody (maybe your husband) asked in Recommendations for a
good circus. I suggested Circus Vargas (circusvargas.org) It is
a traditional circus in a real big top tent and it has only
horses and little dogs. We took our 3.5 year old last year and
it was great. They will be in the Bay Area in summer time.
What circus, Ringling Bros? If so, we went, and it's a far cry
from what one used to see. Elephants, yes. Horses? Yes.
Anything else but dogs? No. There were more protesters than
elephants and none of the ferocious animals of my childhood.
Quite a disappointment, but not for small children. I wouldn't
wait until 6 or 12 or the thrill even for them may be gone.
My daughter first went when she was 2 or 3, and she loved every
minute of it. I think it's PC to hate the circus without even
knowing what's changed (and do we really think everything remains
unchanged after so many complaints years ago?). My recollection
is that Ringling Bros has a whole handout on how they treat the
animals, and at least the last few times they even let people
come early to see the animals outside the pen. And frankly, the
acrobatics were breathtaking! Do you think your 3.5 yr old would
try to imitate the olympics? That's more what it would look like.
You'd do much worse to leave your kid unsupervised in front of
the TV. Seeing such beautiful gymnastics can only help kids
understand how their bodies could move with practice. I'd say let
your husband take the kid, and if you really hate it, don't go.
Take a nap or do some shopping.
some circuses don't have animals...Pickle Family comes to mind-however I love
Ringling Brothers-before I get bashed let me say I grew up on a ranch.If animals
have ''jobs'' they were liable to get eaten or sold to be eaten therefore when you
domestically born elephants/lions/tigers and they actually work for a living they at
least have a sense of purpose that most zoo animals probably don't have...i have two
Aussies who are much less neurotic when they are ''doing something'' versus chillin'
As far as tumbling-I can't imagine replicating it, i have 4 boys and one girl-the
being 21-3.5 was about the age I took them for the first time-clowns are a little
for my 6yo-we find that by going early to the pre-show takes away a little of the
fear.,.if you are opposed let your husband do the outing, it can be their thing.
are your husband has really great memories of the circus and simply wants to share
them with your kid. If you don't have that or are simply politically opposed excuse
yourself from this adventure so you don't taint it with the ''anti-circus vibe''
It's VERY expensive (they only sell snacks in souvenir containers so
even something like popcorn costs a fortune) so I think it's better to
wait until the child is a little older and will really remember it and
appreciate it. When they are 3-4, they are thrilled with so much less - take
advantage of that! But if your husband really wants to go, it definitely will
not harm or traumatize your child.
I don't know your child, but assuming appropriate supervision for
his/her age, I don't think ''acrobatics practice'' is a major risk.
The bigger question how he/she will respond to clowns, etc. I
also encourage you to select circuses without animals.
I took my girls to the B&B Circus when they were 1 & 3. They
loved it. No trips to the emergency room resulted from the
seeing the show.
If you don't like it for personal issues, then don't go or just
send your husband. It also costs a fortune ($12 cotton candy).
Otherwise, it is a good time.
We are considering taking our almost 4yo daughter to the circus
(She has been requesting to go). Any recommendations for
child-friendly circus experiences in the Bay Area?
You have to wait until they come back through town but Circus Vargas
is awesome. They are locally based (Livermore-ish), have only horses
and dogs for animals, are in a real big top tent and are a classic
circus. They have a website, www.circusvargas.org Love Circus Vargas
Anyone taken their 6 year old to cirque du soleil? We haven't
been and don't know if it's appropriate for that age kid. She
loved the traditional(Ringling Brothers) circus at age 5, but
we are not sure if she'd appreciate this. I'd love to hear
experiences or opinions.
We've taken our daughter a couple of times. I believe she was 7 when she first went, and she loved it. My sister-in-law took her 4 year old, who was delighted.
I have been to see Cirque Du Soleil 5 times, once with a 5 year old, once with a 4 and a 9 year old. It was great. The kids are highly entertained by the clowns, there are booster seats at the entrance for the children so seeing the show is not an issue. The act are amazing. I will put one caviate here: we went to see the latest show in San Francisco (Corteo) and it was a horrible disappointment. I wouldn't waist all that money on this particular show. The kids will have more fun seeing the Peking Acrobats at Zellerbach. If you can go to the permanent show at Disney World or in Las Vegas - it will be worth every penny.
take her, she'll love it, I'm taking my kids when my daughter is 3. cirque fan
Cirque du Soleil is wonderful, but it is very expensive, and I don't think a 6 year old would appreciate it any more than a less expensive circus. Try the Pickle Family Circus, which is more reasonable. Take your 6 yr old to Cirque du Soleil in a couple of years.
We took our 3 1/2 year old daughter to Cirque du Soleil last weekend. She loved it and is still talking about it! Her comments throughout were hysterical, as well, so that made it even more entertaining for us. During the intermission and after the show, she was spinning around outside the tents like she was an acrobat. We found it to be very kid friendly.
Mom of 3 1/2 year old
We went to Cirque's Corteo this year and we went to an evening show and we still saw some kids there in th 6-10 range. Not a lot though and I've always assumed that has something to do with the ticket price. Corteo is just gorgeous visually so your 6-yo might appreciate that and of course some of the acts are just awe-inspiring (lots of people flying thru the air), but in general I've thought Cirque is not really aimed at kids. I think it's how much you want to expose your kids to the various forms of the arts-- this is pretty high end. Have fun.
I took my son when he had just turned 7, and despite the fact that he took a 20 minute nap he loved it. The music is great (maybe scary for some kids) and he loved the acts. keans
We went to Cirque du Soleil with 7 year old and 4 year old boys
at grandparent behest. It had amazing gymnastic feats, good
costumes, live music, and a few kid-oriented slapstick sequences
-- quite the wild spectacle, also quite long at 2 and 1/2 hours
total. Our four-year-old sat mesmerized the whole time; the
seven-year-old wanted to leave at intermission, but enjoyed the
second half, so it also depends on your child. We didn't find
the ''cortege'' theme disturbing or even very noticeable.
We brought our daughter to Cirque for the first time when she'd just turned 7, and she had a wonderful time. The color and excitement of the acrobatics are incomparable. The productions have plots, but these are so subtle as to be only moderately discernable to adults who are paying attention to them and irrelevant to kids enjoying the spectacle.
Some weeks ago a mom wrote in asking for advice on circus alternatives - she was concerned about taking her 12 year old son to Corteo because she thought the plot (involving a clown on his deathbed) sounded ''depressing.''
I urged her (in a PM) not to rule it out because of this. The ''plot'' will play out in terms of a suspended bed, angels flying overhead etc, and is essentially a device to tie together acrobatic acts that the clown is ''remembering.'' Cirque performances are the highlight of holiday season for our family. The main disadvantage of Cirque is the cost of the tickets. But if that doesn't faze you, then go for it. I can't imagine you regretting it.
For his 12th birthday, my son would like to go to a circus that
does NOT include animals. My original thought was Cirque du
Soleil, but their upcoming show sounds a little depressing for my
sensitive kid (it's about a clown at his own funeral...). Does
anyone know of a similar circus, or very well-done
magic/acrobatic/variety show in the area (seeking a little more
of an ''event'' than Buddy Club)?
try circus vargas coming to Richmond in Nov. I also sent an
email directly to you. Just in case you thought it was spam...
It is around the 2 week of Nov at the Civic Center.
You may consider attending the 2nd Annual Circus for Arts in the
Schools in Alameda on Sunday, November 6th.
Jeff Raz, who was the star of Pickle Family Circus for most of
the 90s has gathered some world class circus talent - jugglers,
acrobats, aerialists, including former stars of Cirque du Soleil
- to do a benefit show to raise money for arts education in
Alameda public schools. The tickets are $12.50 for adults and
$10 for kids.
For more info, check out the website at www.friendsofpaden.org.
This is a great show for a great cause.
The Pickle Family Circus would probably be a good fit. Cirque
de Soleil-like with no animals, but a bit more slapstick and
with less of a story to tell. They often perform at Fort Mason
over the holidays, but that may not be soon enough for you.
This came across in a Ticketmaster mass email I get. It sounds
like just what you are looking for, the UniverSoul Circus,
coming in late October.
My 2 year old son loves elephants. We are considering taking him
to the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus. Has anyone taken
a child that young to the cirucs? Is he too young?
One more piece of information: we went to a July 4th parade a
few weeks ago, and the very loud sirens from the fire trucks and
police cars were very frightening. Are there loud, blaring
noises at the circus that would be too frigtening?
PS I am already aware of the concerns for the treatment of
The Barnum & Bailey Circus is just like a LOUD rock concert.
Music is BLARING from the loudspeakers. It is not only noisy,
but totally overwhelming. I would not recommend taking a 3 year
old that is sensitive to sounds to the circus. (This was at the
Oakland Coliseum, I can't vouch for any other venue.)
My 4 year old son is sensitive to sounds and HATED the circus!
For elephants, go to the Oakland Zoo. They are beautiful, appear well-cared for
and healthy, and you can see them from not too far away. I think that would be
more enjoyable for your two-year-old than all the noise and confusion of a
Watch out for the nearby camels, though. When we were there with our
grandchildren in February two were mating, an intriguing process that involves
loud noises from the female. All the kids loved it!
We have 2 boys, 4 years apart. When our kids were 2 and 6, we
took both kids to the circus. While the 6 year old had a good
time (he also had a good time when he went at 4) the 2 year old
was miserable. Too long, too loud, just too much of
everything! After the first 20-30 minutes, one of the adults
had to stay out in the lobby with the youngest boy, and he was
really unhappy, crying and wanting to go home. My advice is to
wait until your child is at least 4 or 5, so all of you can
enjoy a trip to the circus.
Your son is not too young. Kids do hate a lot of noise but when
I take my daughter who is 2, she just looks, it's like an
amazement. There is so much going on at the circus that they are
Circus Chimera came to El Cerrito plaza over the last week of August. I
took my very demanding 7 yr old son and my "Been there, done that" in-laws
and we were all very impressed with the quality of the performances. It
was a good value for the money (especially if you get the two for one
coupons they give to merchants in the vicinity of the actual performance),
and there were no animals, thus avoiding any ethical/animal rights issues
that seem to come up with circuses, especially budget affairs. It had a
very nice family feel, the size was not overwhelming, it wasn't too
commercialized, and the ringmaster greeted everyone outside the tent after
the performance. Several people I know liked it so much, they went twice
while it was there. Enjoy!
I took my 3-yr-old & 8-yr-old daughters to see Circus Chimera when they
were in El Cerrito & we all loved it. The circus is
acrobatics/trapeze/etc. only, no animal acts & only one occasional clown
(my kids are scared of clowns). If I had it to do over I would definitely
pay the higher price to get a real seat (not a space on a bench) in the
part of the tent that faces the action. The cheap seats are all on the
sides and *very* uncomfortable -- the "bench" is about 6 inches wide! Also
when we came back from intermission our relatively good bench spaces had
been taken by other people & we watched the 2nd 1/2 up in the rafters.
I've heard from two friends that this is wonderful for families. Lots of
gymnasts and acrobats -- sort of like Cirque du Soleil without the drama
and the mystery.
I know public schools are giving out coupons so a child gets in free with
each adult ticket. (I think adults are $15.) Pick a coupon up at the front
desk in the Columbus School office (Addison/7th Street).
We saw them when they were at the El Cerrito Plaza with our almost 4 yr old
son. We all enjoyed the show. It's mostly acrobatics and the members of the
circus seem to really enjoy themselves. The big top is pretty small, the
acts are close to the audience, and there's a little kid in one act. We
found discount coupons at a store in the Plaza. You might be able to find
something like that at Jack London Square shops.
Truly fun. My 4 yr. old son & I saw it in El Cerrito on the advice of
people in this newsletter. He mostly liked the bouncer things outside
before & after, and he REALLY liked the very good cotton candy & real sno
cones. You gotta figure it's mega-treat day. (Also, I folded & bought the
$5.00 light-up sword. My husband loved it so much when he saw it later, he
said we should have bought more for gifts. It is really cool.) However,
the circus kept him occupied for almost 2 hours. The less expensive seats
are hard tiny bleachers, so if that's a problem buy the real seats. It's
not a super-professional circus, very homey & friendly, but very good acts,
& very new. We were told that the performers developed it themselves.
It's a lot like Cirque de Soleil - one ring, running theme (sort of),
various acrobats, no animals. Oh yes, there are plenty of chances to buy
treats inside, people come around constantly. Don't bother trying to
juggle food, child(ren), etc. before finding your seats.
Circus Chimera is great. We went to Ringling Brothers in August and "ran
into" Chimera in El Cerrito's shopping mall 2 weeks later. Ringling Bros
was awful and Chimera was great fun. We got 2 for 1 coupons at Long's
Drugs, and I think they are available at other places for the the Jack
London stop. General Admission seats are about the same at reserved, since
the one tent is so small. They are benches and Reserve have seats with backs.
It feels like a home town 1950's circus in some ways. It is lots of
gymnastics, clowns, trapeze stuff. No animals!! The music is taped and it
is somewhat amazing that they stay on schedule with the music. The
performers have lots of interactions with the audience. I think a 3 year
old may be bored since they won't know how hard the stuff these folks are
doing really is to do. My 5 year old loved it, and we know several other
families who did too.
They even took our picture with a clown and during the second act came back
with a little slide in a light box/telescope for $5.00. They also have an
astrojump outside, a tiny train ride, a few souvenirs and drinks, snow
I took my 2 1/2 year old to the Chimera circus, and found that she was more
interested in the playthings outside and the food than in the circus
itself. She kept waiting for the animals --- I had no idea that there
wouldn't be any. She did watch the first half of the show, but lost
interest during the second half. She had fun, but was a little young for
We took 2 girls aged 4 1/2 and 5 to this circus and we all loved it. In fact
the girls (and we) liked it better than the much higher priced Barnum and
Bailey Circus. There are no animals--it's lively upbeat, multi ethnic and just
terrfic. Well worth the highest priced tickets and well worth every one's
support. They're a new unpolished troupe but just great. Go enjoy!!!!
My family and I went to see the show in El Cerrito. I strongly recommend
it. My four year old son was tired and didn't enjoy it too much, except
for the little train ride and a novelty flashlight we got him. I was taken
by the magic of the show, which has a feel that might not be as polished as
other larger circuses, but for that very reason made it more charming.
Having said that,though, some of the acts are truly amazing. The circus
also forgoes the use of animals, which is a plus for those concerned about
their treatment in the circus world.
I would recommend considering the open seating area, since in our case, the
bleachers were only filled to about half capacity, which left seats fairly
close the the ring available at a lesser price.
You can also pay for tickets by Visa/MC/check.
I want to put in a plug for going to see Circus Chimera at Jack London
Square while they are still here. Based on all the recommendations I read
on this listserve, my family went to see the show on Sunday, and it was
outstanding. It was not as slick and professional as some circuses I've
seen, but what it lacked in polish it more than made up for in providing a
warm, intimate, and thoroughly entertaining show. This company is brand
new, having just been formed in April, and they really deserve an audience.
At the conclusion of the show we attended, the whole company received
thunderous applause. My young children were enthralled for the first half
of the show, then spirits flagged as they got tired, but overall they loved
Circus Chimera will be at Jack London Square through November 15. From now
through Halloween, any kid who comes wearing a costume gets in free, and on
Halloween anyone wearing a costume gets in free. I have two "Two-for-One"
coupons which I would be willing to drop in the mail to anyone who wants
them and truly intends to go. Just e-mail your name and address to me.
With the two-for-one coupon and your kids wearing costumes, a family could
get in for as little as $15 for section C seats. I would definitely
recommend springing the extra $ to get the section A seats. Show times are
Tuesday, Wednesday at 7:30, Thursday and Friday at 4:30 and 7:30, Sat-Sun
at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30.
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