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January 8

January 8, 1956 – The Mickey Mouse Club Circus Closes in Disneyland

Jimmie Dodd - the Ringleader of the circus

“Fantastic circus. And nobody came. Why? Because they came to see Disneyland.” – Jack Lindquist, Retired Disneyland President

The Mickey Mouse Club Circus—which opened in Disneyland on November 24, 1955—closed on January 8,1956, lasting only one holiday season. Launched almost two months after The Mickey Mouse Club began airing on ABC, the circus grew out of Walt’s lifelong fascination with the Big Top, as shown in his films Dumbo and Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus.

A cast member performing part of the aerial act

The show lasted seventy-five minutes. One of the highlights was an aerial act, led by Mickey Mouse Club member Doreen Tracy. However, during one performance, Tracy forgot her instructor’s warning to never look down, and found herself frozen on top of the platform until a crew member grabbed a ladder to bring her down.

The circus is considered one of Walt’s few failures. Although the cast loved performing the acrobatic stunts, it wasn’t enough to save the show. Eager Mickey Mouse Club fans across the country were not always able to travel to Anaheim to see the cast, and most people who came to Disneyland tended to be more interested in the park’s other features, figuring that they could see a circus back home. After the closing, the tent was then used in Holidayland—ironically, another failed idea of Walt’s—for corporate picnics and other events.

Annette Funicello dressed as Tinkerbell. All the girls wore Tinkerbell costumes, and the boys were dressed as Peter Pan.

Fortunately, the circus closing had no impact on the popularity of The Mickey Mouse Club, and the cast members were able to go on several tours later on, including a trip to Australia in 1959.



3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Question How long do you think Toon Town will last? - Page 2

  2. Interesting report. On the paragraphs about the Mouseketeers’ circus show, the young lady on the high wire platform is Mary Sartori — a seldom seen “blue team” mouse from the first season. Doreen Tracey may have been the lead mouseketeer in the act, but that’s not she in the photo. Just FYI.

    • Good to know – thanks! Now we have a name for the face.
      I’m not surprised that the footage is not of Doreen – she only performed the aerial act for a few weeks before she forgot the trainer’s instructions to never look down and froze on the platform.


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