Its not everyday that you venture to the circus. So we kept it a surprise and didn’t tell the boys we were going until we were well on the way. Oh, and they were so excited. The elephants! The acrobats! The music! The monkeys! (okay, there were no monkeys, we had to explain to C that not every circus is like his Playmobil circus set.)

We were invited by Feld Entertainment and Mom Central to enjoy the festivities and arrived early to attend a sponsored event inside Bullies Restaurant (probably the last time we’ll be in Bullies… this, of course, being the final season of events for the Spectrum.) This was an amazing opportunity to meet and greet with real, live circus celebrities. We were wowed by the sweetness of the circus’ own bully, Surly, the strong-man clown who, in real life is the sweetest guy ever. But he sure can act! Later in the evening we saw what a meany he is! We also had an opportunity to meet several other stars, including†clowns and the women who shot out of the cannonballs–for real! (and they are so sweet, real moms who were wonderful to talk to.)

The highlight of the pre-preshow was meeting the Zingmaster himself, Alex Ramon. Alex is a true magician, infact in talking with him we learned that we saw him a few years ago when he came to Philly as star of Disney LIVE! Mickey’s Magic Show. He’s also quite a Zingmaster, especially since he’s taken on this job and is still in his first year! Clearly, he charmed us, and the kids took to him in seconds, Carson even got to do a magic trick with this master (see pictures).†

So, after our interlude with celebrity, we ventured out to an area of the parking lot that has been turned into a living ground for the animals while they’re in Philadelphia. This area is open to the public… I never saw anyone collecting tickets! Like most of us, I felt guilt as I saw the animals caged in to their areas, not living in their natural habitats. But what shocked me is the joy these animals seemed to feel. I will never forget Wesley waving to an elephant from on my husband’s shoulders, and seeing the elephant use his ears to wave back. In another area, a triad of elephants “hung-out” munching on hay. One elephant was smiling while another had a twinkle in his eye. Over by the tigers we saw quite a show, while some lazed in the pool or in the sun, others played and interacted… clearly not just for us, but because they wanted to. I’ve never been so close to show-animals before, and I’ll admit my amazement: they were happy.

We literally had to pull the kids away from the animals, promising them we’d see them again later, to enter the Spectrum (this time we needed tickets). There was still an hour before the show, but there was quite a side-show on the Spectrum floor. We happily joined the crowd for Clown School, where clowns and acrobats interacted, amazed and performed… all within feet, sometimes inches, of us! Make sure, if you are heading to the circus this week, that you get there an hour early to be a part of this magical time.

With a Zing! a Zang! and a Zoom! the show started and took our breath away. The kids were not just glued in the entire 2+ hours, they were amazed. They loved the magic (its the first time the circus has ever changed its theme to a magic circus) and they adored that we had just been down on the floor and knew the performers. Every time Clown†Surly came on to wreak havoc, the boys whispered “we know him” and when Zingmaster Alex was on†”stage” their mouths dropped… could it be? Their own, personal magician is famous?! There was a lot more than what we remember from circus’ of our youth. Sure, there was a 3-ring, but there was a *real* show this time–real acrobats, real, amazing tricks, real showmen doing things you wouldn’t believe!

So, here’s the deal. There are still lots of tickets available and I, of course, have a coupon code for you. Its totally reasonable to go, and why wouldn’t you?! Purchase a family package of tickets to Zing! Zang! Zoom! in Philadelphia for only $44. And you can keep on adding tickets: additional tickets are only $11 each. Be sure to purhcase your tickets at www.comasttix.com. Select your performance (there are shows daily in Philadephia tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20 through Monday, May 25) and enter coupon code MOM in the MomCentral Promotion Box.

Be prepared. Get there EARLY to be able to partake in the entire event. I’d recommend an hour to an hour and a half early. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to interact with the animals and at least another 30 minutes to explore the floor. But padding that time is nice, too. Especially because as you get closer to showtime, the floor gets more and more crowded.

One note, you’re getting a great deal on tickets, but souveniers are pricey. The regular Spectrum food is available at Spectrum pricing, but in addition, there are vendors selling snowcones, water ice, cotton candy and toys. Lots of toys. We put our feet down when the price of some of those light-up toys was upwards of $20. But, because we had promised the boys each one thing, we did offer them each a cotton candy bag, which came with a souvenier hat (thus buying 2 bags), for $12 each. Like I said, be prepared.

But most important, be prepared for an exciting adventure… a full day (or evening) of fun. And an event you and your kids will never forget.

Not in Philadelphia? Check the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey website for when the circus is coming to your town.

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