Zing Zang Zoom

Last Wednesday Mom Central invited us to attend the opening night of Zing Zang Zoom at Oakland's ORACLE Arena. Zing Zang Zoom is one of three Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus shows currently on tour. We've been looking forward to this for weeks because, well, hey, it's the circus! Who doesn't love the circus?!

The fun started with a special Mom Central pre-show party, where we were treated to yummy circus snacks like popcorn and pretzels and nachos, and given some fun clown noses and hats. We met some of the performers, as well as the show's ringmaster -- oops, I mean Zingmaster -- Alex. He's from the Bay Area, and his mom is actually Belliboo's teacher, so we had a nice bonding moment.

Unfortunately I realized that the Kodak Zi6 HD videocam that I got from the SocialLuxe Lounge party at BlogHer is a great digital video camera, but NOT a great digital camera. It doesn't have a flash, so all the indoor photos I took were as blurry as a trapeeze artist in flight. This is the best photo I have of our preshow event; if I get a hold of a photo of us taken by one of the other mombloggers, I'll update this blog with the photo. Because, you know, you can never have enough photos posing with celebrities. And as far as my kids are concerned, anyone in size 20 clown feet counts as a Celebrity.

We enjoyed the Mom Central pre-show event, but happily every single Zing Zang Zoom ticketholder got to attend a special pre-show event, starting with an Animal Open House which opened 90 minutes before the show. The kids made a beeline to the elephants, and spent quite a while just staring and enjoying and wishing they had brought along my little Webkinz elephant, Horton Chouchie, so he could see his cousins.

On the way to the Animal Open House, we were accosted by animal-rights activists bearing signs saying that this circus mistreats its animals, but honestly (and this is why I bring it up), I think Ringling is much smarter than that, what with all the media attention on this subject! The animals at the open house certainly looked well-fed and content to me. Their pens were scrupulously clean (I wish I had video'd one of the elephants peeing... into a bucket! Yes, they have an attendant who rushed forward with a bucket! I wish I had had someone like that when my twins were toilet training). And later on, during the show, I could see that if any of the animals balked at doing a trick, the trainers didn't force them, and let them go back to their places. Whether you think animals should be performing for people is a separate issue, of course. I personally don't have a problem with it (People perform for people! Little kids perform for people!), as long as the animals are cared for properly -- and in the case of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, I think they are doing a good job caring for their animals.

Okay, back to the show.... Zing Zang Zoom ticketholders also got to attend an All-Access Preshow, right on the show floor, one hour before showtime. We posed for pictures with some clowns, watched some short circus acts and generally got a close-up taste of what the upcoming show would be like.

If you're all the way up in the bleacher seats, you still get the opportunity to see the performers up close. So don't forget to arrive EARLY!

And of course, you'll need some extra time to browse the souvenir stands. We always like to buy a souvenir program (it's the best deal, at only $15) so the kids will always remember what they saw. They also had some cute plush tigers, snow-cones in plastic elephant-shaped mugs, light-up swords, figurine circus horses, and other souvenirs that will have your kid begging for more.

So much fun, and the show hadn't even started! And once the show did start, my kids eyes popped out of their heads -- and stayed that way all through the end. Zing Zang Zoom was really quite a good show. My sister and her 3 kids were also in the audience that night, and she said this show was better than the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus that they saw last year. It was certainly much better than what I remember from the one we saw when The Pea was 18 months old (also Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey).

This show featured many of the circus acts you'd expect -- tigers, elephants, tightrope walkers -- as well as some that you wouldn't (a clown act performed on the ceiling, entirely upside-down!). I was a bit disappointed not to see some of my favorite circus acts, notably the motorcycles in the circular cage, and the flying trapeeze artists. But I guess those acts are in the other two of Ringling's shows on tour (Over the Top and Coney Island Boom-a-Ring). Some of the acts literally gave me chills. It might be my old age, but I almost couldn't watch the Chinese acrobats flinging themselves around on two swinging logs, or the two brothers going round and round on giant hamster wheels. Amazing! And the music wasn't your old circus calliope tune; it was modern and catchy and interesting, and ran throughout the show, which really tied things together and made it a real spectacle. I like how they've made an effort to update their shows and keep them fresh!

Zing Zang Zoom will be playing at Oakland's ORACLE Arena on the following dates:
August 12th: 7:30pm
August 13th: 7:30pm
August 14th: 7:30pm
August 15th: 11:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm
Aubust 16th: 1:00pm, 5:00pm

.... and at San Jose's HP Pavilion on the following dates:
August 19th: 7:30pm
August 20th: 7:30pm
August 21st: 7:30pm
August 22nd: 11:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm
August 23rd: 11:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm

Visit Ringling's website for more cities and dates, and visit Ticketmaster for tickets. And guess what? You can purchase a 4-pack of tickets for only $44 by calling 1-800-745-3000, or by logging onto www.ticketmaster.com and entering the coupon code: MOM (Not valid on VIP, Front Row and Circus Celebrity seats or combinable with other offers). This coupon code is valid in select markets across the country; click here to see whether your city qualifies.

We received passes to attend this event but no monetary compensation for this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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