October 03, 2012 3:30 am •
Circus World is enjoying an 8 percent jump in attendance this year, and revenues have increased more than 2 percent.
So far about 300,004 people have visited the state’s 10 historic sites and spent more than $735,332.95, which is down 2 percent from last year’s figures.
Circus World Executive Director Steve Freese said the downslide in the economy has played a large role in attendance and sales at the historic sites.
Freese noted Circus World offers a coupon — buy one, get one free — distributed at Devil’s Lake State Park throughout the summer. While the park attracted nearly 2 million visitors this year, only 342 redeemed the coupon, which would allow one person into Circus World without paying the $14.95 admission fee.
“That’s pretty stunning to me,” Freese said. “Those people who went to the park decided to stay at the park without taking advantage of our coupon.”
At the largest historic site, Old World Wisconsin in Waukesha County, there was a 1.3 percent decrease in attendance — 41,080 this year as compared to 41,620 last year. This year’s sales at Old World Wisconsin were down nearly 13 percent from $98,671.16 last year to $86,233.91 so far this year.
Circus World shows a larger jump in attendance, with 68,162 as of Tuesday.
All of the sites except Circus World wrap up their seasons at October’s end. Circus World stays open year-round.
Freese said despite a sluggish economy and extreme heat, Circus World enjoyed a great summer.
“About $9 million is spent on trying to get people to come to the Wisconsin Dells and we try to capitalize on that by getting some of those people to come here,” Freese said. “The grandparents want to take their grandchildren somewhere different other than the water parks, so they come here.”
Ringmaster Dave SaLoutos said Circus World is “something that is universally appealing” to all ages.
“This is a place where grandparents, parents and children can come together and have a great time,” he said.