Five Things – 6.30.14

1.  Circus World – Of all the lost theme parks, this is one that maybe deserved to be that way. In 1974, the then owners of Ringling Bros opened Circus World, a permanent circus-themed park in Orlando, Florida.

Circus World ad

The park was slow to get started, opening with only a big-top that housed an IMAX screen and a museum. And a model of what they wanted the park to look like.  Over the next 7 or 8 years it added a roller coaster, a carousel, a theater and, presumably, a bunch of unhappy animals.

Polar Bears

I’m not saying you can’t have polar bears in Florida, I’m just saying there’s a pretty high chance that they’re not happy polar bears.

Oddly enough, toy company Mattel got involved and ended up purchasing Circus World, then selling it back to Ringling at a loss.  That’s how popular this place was!

Circus World Sideshow

Unfortunately, America just wasn’t ready for an all-the-time circus and Circus World was turned into an Americana-styled theme park called Boardwalk and Baseball in 1987.  Apparently, America was even less interested in that idea and the entire complex was closed in 1990.  Here’s some home movie footage of the park, which was just about the only video memory of the place I could find:

And here’s a map of the park which, for all the park’s faults, has a pretty fab design.

Circus World Map


2.  M.A.S.H. Video Game – I know everyone says ET was the worst game for the Atari 2600, but I think M.A.S.H. is at least a contender.  Yes, the movie and hit show from the ’80s had a video game version and it wasn’t pretty.


You didn’t really seem to play as any specific person from M.A.S.H. but instead represented the entire hospital, playing one stage where you would rescue soldiers from the battlefield in your helicopter and then another stage where you would operate on them and (presumably) heal them up.

Pretty sure they left the maudlin humor out of the game completely.


3.  Nintendo Power Fest – 1989’s The Wizard gave a generation of gamers dreams of competing in a glitzy videogame competition, playing games that hadn’t come out yet, and beating all odds and winning the entire thing much to the chagrin of Power Glove Wearing pretty boys:

Well, Nintendo took that ball and ran with it, developing both the Nintendo World Championship in 1990 and the Nintendo World Championship II in 1994.  Both events were were roadshows of sorts, featuring playable versions of upcoming games and allowing kids to take part in a similar challenge of achieving the highest score in Rad Racer, Tetris, and Super Mario Brothers 3.

I actually got to attend one of these in 1990 and they did a pretty good job of making me feel like a baller, even though I lost the challenge in the first round.  I did get to play Maniac Mansion before it came out for the NES, though, and there were free snacks so it was a win overall.

Here’s some video from the 1994 Championships.  This guy is a champ himself for doing the best he could with the subject matter:


4.  Urkel O’s – Steve Urkel basically won the ’90s.  There’s no debate about it, looking at the decade in retrospect – he won.  Exhibit A: Urkel O’s.


5.  Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book – Let’s just admire the cover of this Betty Crocker cookbook and embrace/ignore the alternate/antique spelling of cooky.

Cooky Book