Circus World: It Lasted for 12 Years
by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)
Poster For Circus World
In 1974, not long after the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971, Circus World opened north of Haines City, Florida. It was located at the southeast corner of Interstate 4 and U.S. 27. There wasn't much else there at that location back then. The site was a quiet orange grove, and not many cars and trucks drove on US-27.
The attraction was originally owned by Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily Circus and they planned for it to be their winter headquarters. The fist building on the site was the Preview Center, a large building designed to look like a circus tent. In addition to showing visitors what was planned on the site, it also had an IMAX movie theater.
During the next couple of years other attractions were added around the circus tent building. These included a large merry go round, a giant wooden roller coaster, a Ferris Wheel, show arenas and several interactive experiences. The interactive exhibits were designed to let visitors walk on a tightrope, swing on a trapeze and do other stunts. Shows were held with tigers, elephants, horses, clowns and a live band.
The ownership of the property changed over the years and Circus World finally closed in 1986. I guess it couldn't compete with nearby Walt Disney World. After it closed it was reborn as Boardwalk and Baseball, but this attraction only lasted 3 years.
The property now is a residential and shopping complex called Posner Park and the ghostly emptiness of that highway intersection is now jammed with businesses and residences and the related traffic.