Ladies and Gentlemen, and children of all ages… The Mickey Mouse Club Circus, in the world’s largest striped circus tent, debuted at Disneyland on November 24 in 1955 and remained until January 8 of the following year. As if it weren’t enough to see Professor Keller and His Feline Fantastics, Serenado the Wonder Horse playing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and Bob-O the Disneyland clown, the Mouseketeers from TV’s Mickey Mouse Club got into the act as well.
The Mickey Mouse Club Circus was a particular highlight of Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess’ Disney days. “The Mickey Mouse Club Circus was in the fall of ’55 with the Ted DeWayne Circus and they melded us into it and called it the Mickey Mouse Club Circus,” Bobby recalls. “It was a red and white huge tent and it was hot and sweaty in there, but we were having a blast. They dressed us as Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and we did the trapeze act. There was a girl in the center who was a pro who would go over and over and over. Tommy and I were the web setters, and two of the girls, one was Sharon and one was Bonnie from the first year. The rest of them were on swinging ladders, and the boys were Peter Pan and the girls were Tinker Bell and then we turned out the lights and we glowed in the dark. We also rode elephants and horses everyday and we were trained by professional circus people. That was really fun!”
From Disneyland News, November 1955: Walt’s latest venture marks his first entry into the circus field, and the show promises to be one of the greatest things he has done. Titled the Mickey Mouse Club Circus, it will present animal acts and aerialists, clowns and elephants and introduce to the public, for the first time in person, the Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers, including Jimmy Dodd, the Grand Mouseketeer as Ringmaster and Roy Williams, the “Big Mooseketeer,” as the Circus Strong Man.
The Mouse Club Circus will boast a menagerie of more than 80 animals, a talent roster of over 70 performers picked by Walt personally from the best circus talent available in the world.
Some of these star attractions include Professor George Keller’s Feline Fantastics, wild animals act fresh from engagements with Ringling Bros. and the Ted DeWayne troupe of acrobats and gymnasts. DeWayne’s troupe has appeared in 46 states and 32 foreign countries with its sensational trampoline, tumbling and human pyramid gyrations.
Action will get underway Thanksgiving Day with an old time Circus parade up Main Street. The entire Circus cast — animals, acrobat clowns and Mouseketeers will march or be pulled in magnificent, original circus wagons. The parade will be climaxed by the official lighting of Disneyland’s “Old Fashioned Christmas” displays and the entire Main Street will sparkle from the illumination of colored lights on every building and in every shop window.
Immediately following the ceremony the circus will have its premiere showing. Seats for 2500 persons will be available under Disneyland’s “Big Top,” to be located in Holidayland and reached through Fantasyland. General admission prices are 50 cents for both adults and children. Reserved seats will also be available at $1 for children and adults.
The show itself is to be a fast paced presentation that will last about 75 minutes. Twelve major acts headline the bill. Leading off will be Professor George Keller’s amazing Feline Fantastics. Thirteen jungle animals, including lions, pumas, ocelets, leopards and tigers headline Keller’s big cat act. His unique presentation—he works without whip, gun or chair—has sent chills through every audience he has played. After the professor’s act clowns will ease the tension and then Walt’s own Mouseketeers will take over center stage with a breathtaking aerial ballot, specially created for presentation here. Trained ponies, dogs and seals enter next, followed by Kinko the Clown and his miniature auto. Performing Camels and Llamas make up the sixth act. After the animals Ted DeWayne’s Troupe of acrobats and gymnasts will enliven the center ring.
Serenada, the world’s most famous performing horse, an elephant act and more clowns and Mousketeers will set the scene for the final act: the Flying Felicias and their amazing aerial presentation.
Final event on the program is to be the spectacular Grand Finale of the “March of the Toys.” Living Toys, representing the beloved Disney creations of the years, will march machine-like around the hippodrome. Leading the parade will be Mickey Mouse himself with Minnie, Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy, and the whole galaxy of great Walt Disney stars. As they march a Christmas tree will grow from the center ring. It will rise to meet a sparkling star, high in the tent. Jingling bells will announce the appearance of Santa Clause who will arrive by sleigh and close the production.
Special effort is being made to make this one of the most visual circuses ever seen. The “Big Top” is being built to order for Disneyland at a cost of more than $30,000, and inside arrangement of the tent will assure a good view of the action from every seat.
The Big Top itself will be a major holiday attraction because of its gay red and white stripes. Measuring some 185 feet by 130 feet, it will be the largest striped Circus tent in the world. Seats will be permanent and sturdily reinforced. Another feature, a heating installation, will make it the world’s only heated circus tent. More than 200,000 people are expected at see the Mickey Mouse Club Circus during its holiday season run at Disneyland. Combined with the Christmas decorations throughout the park, the Magic Kingdom will be a major Southern California visitor attraction.