And I am happy to report that, despite some reservations I had about how the kids would react, the show pretty much delivered family fun.
After surveying my group, the highlights definitely included the animal acts -- the elephants, dogs, ponies, horses, and one stray porcupine. Ellie loved the aerialists who hung from their hair and has declared her aspirations to do that when she gets bigger (great). And -- no surprise here -- the little boys loved the seven motorcycles driving around in a cage at the same time. I, myself, thought I might go into labor during that part because I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen and be etched in the kids' memories until the end of time.
Other parts of the show were not so inspired. Some of the clown schtick was painfully bad. Even my two-year-old had the presence of mind to declare, "I don't like this" during a scene about a cell phone with a planted audience member. We also didn't think much of the "clumsy" aerialist who ends up losing her costume and swinging around in her underwear -- didn't really seem like "family fun" to me.
My other least favorite part of the circus was the constant barrage of crap they were trying to sell you. As soon as one guy finished trying to convince you that each kid needed a $9 lemonade in special souvenir cup, another vendor came by with the replica plastic motorcycles. Enough already.
All in all, the kiddos had fun -- which is why we went. I definitely recommend arriving early so you can take advantage of the "pre-show" where you can walk out on the floor and check out the costumes, motorcycles, and see an elephant make a watercolor painting.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is at the United Center until November 30th and tickets are still available.