American Puppet Theater asks for your vote…

The American Puppet Theater has asked for your vote in a poll conducted by Des Moines Parent website. (I have contributed content for them in the past, relating to local Halloween haunted house activities.) They would love it if you’d vote for them in the category of “Best Children’s Theater” or “Best Outdoor Entertainment”:


Some categories you might consider:

18. Favorite Local Place for Children’s Outdoor Entertainment
66. Favorite Local Children’s Theater

American Puppet Theater at Advenutureland would fit in either spot, I think.

I’m sure the Little Adventurers would thank you for the support!


The ghost of Royal Hanneford Circus, revisited.

In a previous article, I asked if anyone knew where you could still find a reference to the Royal Hanneford Circus inside the park:

Royal Hanneford reference somewhere in the park in 2017. (Photo taken on 6/20/2017.)

This was from a sign you pass on Dragon Island going to Outlaw Gulch:

On Dragon Island, you could find this sign referencing Royal Hanneford Circus

Since the first article was posted, the reference has since been removed:

Farewell, Royal Hanneford! (Taken 7/1/2017)

So today’s question is … where else can you find remnants of Royal Hanneford Circus? There are still a few out there . . . but maybe not where/what you think 😉

Answer (or guesses) in the comments.

July 4th 2017 Fireworks

Adventureland has announced that this year’s July 4th fireworks will begin at approximately 9:40 p.m. on July 4, 2017 (weather permitting).

I’ve seen the fireworks a number of times over the years, and it’s always a nice show – usually larger than what the various local communities can offer. In past years, when Adventureland held it’s fireworks on the same night that nearby Prairie Meadows did their’s, they seemed to coordinate. Adventureland’s show would go, then as soon as it was over, the casino would begin it’s show — allowing guests in the park a two-for-one show just by facing a different direction 🙂

Here is the nearly 25-minute show from 2016, which included speakers set up all along the River City/Boulevard area to play patriotic music:

The fireworks are launched from near the Raging River loading area. During the day, you can see it from the line:

Fireworks launch area in 2006.

The best viewing area is in River City, though you should be able to see theme from any area not obstructed by buildings or trees. The music, however, can only be heard from the Boulevard/River City area.

In 2016, the park also added new colorful LED lights to the Monster roller coaster and Space Shot. The crew at KCL Engineering that did the installs also created special July 4th light shows:

Neat, eh?

To give you an idea at how much more the park does these days, here is the show from 2009:

And here it is from 2008:

I wasn’t able to visit the park from 2010-2015, so I have no recordings of those years. I don’t know when the park added music to the show. I may have some earlier fireworks recordings on tape somewhere (I took my first digital camcorder to the park in 1999), but I have never posted them. Maybe I’ll have some even older fireworks videos to share next year…



The ghost of Royal Hanneford Circus

In a previous article, I mentioned the conversion from Royal Hanneford Circus to the new Adventureland Circus, and noted that even the opening show guides still listed the old circus:

2017 handout circus ad.

There does seem to be one Royal Hanneford remnant still in the park…

Royal Hanneford reference somewhere in the park in 2017.

Do you know where this is? Answer in the comments 🙂


Adventureland Circus 2017

As mentioned in an earlier article, the circus is back at Adventureland. This year, it is being billed as Billy Martin Presents the Adventureland Circus. It is in a different tent than the one used in recent years by the Royal Hanneford Circus.

There is even a large Adventureland banner at the back of the tent:

Adventureland banner at the Adventureland Circus in 2017.

In addition to a nice new tent, the show also has a fancier lighting and sound system.

The ringmaster is Billy Martin and he has been there every year (as far as I know) since the circus first came to Adventureland in 1997. According to his website, he first got involved with the circus when it visited his town in New York in 1972. This eventually led to him joining the circus and becoming a juggler and ringmaster.

Billy Martin, ringmaster. And owner?

Based on a  very brief conversation with Billy, my understanding is that this is now his show, and is not connected to the Royal Hanneford Circus. It still features many familiar acts from past years:

Quick change artists.
Contortionist/aerial artist.
Amazing juggler!

There were also other acts that I did not recognize from last year.

Billy said that each of the three daily shows would be a bit different, and then during the season, other acts would be brought in to keep the circus fresh.

With the recent closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, it is becoming rarer to see this type of variety show. Be sure to check it out when you are at the park next.

The 2017 Adventureland Circus.


American Puppet Theater

There’s a new children’s show at the park this season: American Puppet Theater.

Based out of Chicago, Miss Green and her puppet friends present two shows at The Chapel each day.

American Puppet Theater at The Chapel.

On the stage, a small puppet theater is set up:

Miss Green and her puppet theater.

I grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and the puppets in the Land of Make Believe, but I have seen very few puppet shows in person. The show I caught featured two short stories.

The first involved a pirate and made references to the monster of Dragon Island. It was neat seeing the show customized for Adventureland. (For those who haven’t visited, Dragon Island is one of the “lands” of the park, where some carnival games are, as well as the Dragon roller coaster, Puff the Dragon and Himalaya).

American Puppet Theater pirate show.

The second show featured two friends and a tree:

American Puppet Theater.

Both shows are short enough they should work well with the A.D.D. generation of kids roaming the park these days.

If you stick around after the show, you can meet Miss Green and some of her puppets. She had a gift for the kid’s the stayed for this show:

American Puppet Theater meet-and-greet.

If you have little ones (or just like puppets), be sure to catch the American Puppet Theater this season, and tell Miss Green that sent you.

Miss Green of American Puppet Theater.

Adventureland Circus

Updated 6/5/2017 – Added more photos and web links.

I guess I never realized the Adventureland handouts are dated, and get changed during the year — including changes to the map!

Since 1997, the Royal Hanneford Circus has been entertaining guests starting Memorial Day Weekend. We were told last year that the circus would be returning for the 2017. When the park opened this season, a large circus tent was already set up back in Outlaw Gulch (though the show itself would not open until Memorial Day Weekend). I noticed the tent looked different, and the large banner said “Billy Martin Presents the Adventureland Circus.” Billy Martin is the name of the ringmaster who has been with the Royal Hanneford CIrcus circus since it first came to Adventureland.

At that time, the map in The Daily Adventure handout (dated April 30th-May 27th) looked to be the same as 2016 (as does the one on the website). The handout map was “Sponsored by perficut”…

2017 map sponsor for the first month.

…and the map in the handout labeled the circus tent as “Royal Hanneford Circus”:

Royal Hanneford Circus, before Adventureland Circus opened.

The Show Times page listed “Starting May 27th the Circus is Back! The Royal Hanneford Circus.”

2017 handout circus ad.

It seems that the time the circus arrived, it was being billed as “Billy Martin presents The Adventureland Circus.”

2017 handout circus ad #2.

During the circus’ opening weekend, I asked them about this. It turns out it is a brand new circus, not connected with Royal Hanneford Circus, in a brand new tent, ran by ringmaster Billy Martin.

The next edition of the show guide was revised (the map is now sponsored by RIPKE).

2017 map sponsor #2.

On the circus tent, a new text box reads “Adventureland Circus.” The Show Times section inside now refers to Adventureland Circus.

Adventureland Circus, after the circus opened.

When I saw the 5 o’clock performance, it featured several performers that were there last year (the quick change couple, the contortionist, and one of the aerial acrobats) plus some I did not recognize.

With the same ringmaster as years past, and many familiar acts from last year, it should entertain folks as much as always – just in a nicer, newer tent with improved lighting and sound. Ringmaster Billy Martin says each show will have a different line up of acts, and during the season they will be swapping out acts to keep the show fresh. I look forward to checking it out again on my next visit.

Now I have to pick up copies of the map throughout the year when a new edition comes out…

P.S. You can hear the distinct voice of Billy Martin somewhere else in the park… Do you know where? Answer in the comments.