Let’s remember the shuttered Orlando theme park Circus World

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Back in 1973, Circus World opened to the masses about 30 miles from Orlando in the small Polk County town of Haines City on the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and Interstate 4.

The Feld family, then owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, wanted the Central Florida theme park to combine live shows and amusement park rides with a new winter quarters for the circus, according to State Library & Archives of Florida. In its heyday, Circus World had a 27,000-square-foot building that looked like a giant circus tent, carousel, Ferris wheel, wooden roller coaster, polar bear show, lion tamer, flaming high diver, elephant performances and rides, and of course, lots of clowns. Visitors could even attempt to walk across a tightrope or trapeze through the air.

Circus World was sold several times, and the theme park was eventually shut down in 1986 by then-owners Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich. The attraction was rebuilt and opened as Boardwalk and Baseball in 1987, before being sold again along with SeaWorld Orlando and Cypress Gardens to the Busch Entertainment Corporation. Busch shuttered Boardwalk and Baseball for good in 1990. The park was torn down, turning that corner of U.S. 24 and I-4 into strip malls and cheap motels.

The few things that remain of Circus World are the memories and these vintage photographs from the State Library & Archives of Florida. 

 

 

 

 

| Photos by State Library & Archives of Florida