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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Red Unit Circus Train, Anaheim, CA, July 25, 2011

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train

Red Unit at Anaheim, California, July 25, 2011

Photos, Videos, and Text By Carl Morrison, except where noted.

Link to this story:

--Graphic from   

Unloading the Animals from the Circus Train and the Animal Walk

The first thing rail fans want to see when the Circus comes to town, is the RBBB Circus Train.  There are two units, Red and Blue, and either one of them is the largest private train in the world.  That is exciting to see between venues, or coming into town, this being Anaheim, and doing some street running down Santa Ana street. 

My first sight of the Circus Train each year is at the unloading spot north of the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, at the corner of Sunkist and Cerritos Streets.  Here, the flats, with all the circus wagons of show paraphernalia, are ste east of Sunkist and the four animal cars are set west of Sunkist. 

I had been notified that the Animal Walk, where the animals are unloaded from the train and walked/exercised to the Arena, about a mile, would take place about 11:30 a.m.  We arrived about 11 a.m. and they were just putting down the 'circus loading' ramps to unload the wagons. 

Mark Eades, a videographer with the Orange County Register passed me and said the time had been pushed up an hour and the animal walk would be at 12:30.  I quickly went to a nearby cafe and picked up cold drinks for me and my wife, and the bus of 'Cherry Pie' workers (circus workers who make extra money for helping with the animal walk) just arrived with a horse trailer for the miniature horses and black performing horses.

When you arrive at the Animal Walk, there is no mistaking who owns the train.

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Circus Wagons and mule to pull them.

Equipment that is too large for a standard circus wagon go into open wagons.

First put down the ramp, then the first tractor pulls off wagons onto street level.

First wagon off the flat cars and headed for the arena.  I wonder how many Animal Walks the young fellow on the right has watched.

The orange ball is for the Tigers, and the stands next to the ball are used in the cage at the performance.

Some wagons were pulled off the flats by the water truck.

The animal car attendant seemed ready for the crew to arrive and unload the animals.

With no Animal Activity yet, I took a lap around the animal cars.

The Circus Train Modelers who read my stories like side shots of the animal cars

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Animal Car No. 63002

Animal Car No. 63006

Animal Car No. 63004

Animal Car No. 63011

Four Animal Cars

The shade side of the animal cars.

History of the Unloading Process

In 1872 the P.T. Barnum Circus had grown so large that it was decided that they would only play at large venues, and that they would travel by train. P.T. Barnum had two of his partners, William Cameron Coup and Dan Costello, come up with a system to load the circus wagons on to railroad flat cars. Using a system of inclined planes, called runs, and crossover plates between cars, they developed a system of ropes and pulleys, along with a snubber post to get the wagons on and off of the flat cars. They used horses to pull the wagons up the run and then would hitch a second team to pull it down the run cars (flats). The off loading was much the same as loading, but a snubber post was used to help break the wagons' descent down the run. That system, first used in 1872, is still used today by the RBBBC, although through more modern methods.
--Great American Circus and Show Trains. [VHS]. Pasadena, California: Pentrex. 1999.

Two new UP 4-axel "Ultra Low Emissions Diesel Genset Switchers," 2715 and 2720, had brought the animal cars and flats to this location, and wait patiently to move the empties to another location.  The residence cars are  placed near Lewis St. and Katella and the performers are bussed to the performances.

Only a few doors down is Leslie's Sandwiches where I us bought some cold drinks.

Inside Leslie's I was surprised at the large seating area.

Local news cameras began to arrive.

When the bus with the fellows to put up the ramps and the girls who hold the rope between the animals and the people along the walk arrived, along with the horse trailer, I knew we would soon see some action.

The 'Cherry Pie' crew got their orders and Jennifer Becker's workers handed out activity sheets for the kids (right).

As the workers took their positions, I noticed this lady's fancy hat and learned that she is a seamstress with the circus.

A dancer in the show, from Brazil.

Another Brazilian dancer from the show

Soon the doors opened, the elephant shield were distributed, and the unloading began.

The first car held horses

The two ladies below, Lucenir Viera de Souza and Karin Houcke, made sure the horses were well taken care of and some of the horses went into the horse trailer.  You will see these ladies in their costumes with the animals later in this story.

My, and other 'kids', favorite part - the unloading of the elephants.

About 4 elephants travel per car.  They know how to duck to get out the door and not scrape their backs.  They step down on the ramp and walk forward with their front feet, making their backs lower, then step out with their back feet.

Once off the train, they stand side by side and wait for all the elephants from that car to join them.  This routine happens symultaneously from two or three rail cars.

All by verbal commands, no hooks or prods.

A palm tree nursery is adjacent to the animal car tie-up area, I wonder if the elephants appreciate the homey touch.

California State University, Fullerton's mascot was on hand to welcome his likenesses.

Overall shot:  Unloaded elephant, Red Unit of the Circus' shield on elephants and rail car, the loading ramp, and the next elephant prepares to walk out.

How big is an Asian Elephant?  Much bigger than the largest, dualie, diesel pickup truck. 

The chaff on their backs will be washed off and blow dried (with a leaf blower) before their appearance at the performanace.

With some show horses in the horse trailer, the rest stand ready to fall in behind the elephants on the walk to the arena.

The Animal Walk begins!  Red shirted staff hold a rope on each side between the elephants and the assembled crowd.  The soft pads of the elephants' feet are so quiet, there is no noise when they pass.

Tabayara “Taba” Maluenda, far right above, is the Exotic Animal Trainer and Presenter.  He presents the elephants, tigers, and horses in the show.  Here he makes sure his prized possessions are moved safely to the animal tents outside the arena.   The other two gentlemen on the right can be seen with the elephants at the performance as well.

The following is a video I shot of the Elephants passing through the intersection of Sunkist and Cerritos Avenues.

After viewing the video, just use the right scroll bar to move down to the next section of this report.

If the video above does not work, Click Here.

Needing more information about the train, since I was not able to interview the Trainmaster this year by my deadline, I wrote the Customer Service Department at Ringling (, and Jennifer Jo answered with this excellent information that all those who like the Circus Train will find interesting:

THE PIE CAR –America’s true traveling diner!!

…         The  Red Unit Pie Car, or dining car, boasts a custom built kitchen and dining area to serve hot meals to circus cast and crew each day

…         The Pie Car is located in the center of the living coaches so circus artists and staff have access to it whether the train is moving on the rails, or parked in a city.

…         Whenever the train is moving, the Pie Car is open 24/7 and serves as a social center as well as a restaurant.

…         Combined, the Pie Car on the train and the Pie Car Jr., which serves meals at the arenas, prepares approximately 109,000 meals each year.

…         On certain days, the Pie Car menu features special meals representing the many foreign countries that the performers, staff and crew come from.


…         The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & BaileyÆ circus train that brings Fully ChargedÆ to each city on tour has a total of 59 cars, and has a total length over a mile long.

…         The 59 cars on the Blue Unit Train include: 4 animal stock cars, 30 coaches for living, 2 concession storage cars, 19 flat bed equipment cars, 1 pie car (diner), 1 generator car, 1 shop car, and 1 auxiliary generator/shop car.

…         The state-of-the-art generator car produces enough electricity to power the entire train, making it completely self sufficient 24/7/365.

…         Periodic water stops are scheduled during train trips to refill water tanks for animals and people.

…         Special stops are arranged on longer trips so the animals can get out for exercise.

    Each year an average of 1000 hours is spent traveling by train from city to city.
    The average distance the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & BaileyÆ train travels between cities is 350 miles.
    The red unit train will travel an average of 16,000 miles in one year going coast to coast.
    The Ringling Bros. red unit train will bring Fully Charged  to 78 cities on its two year tour.
    The train master walks a minimum of 3 miles per day in taking care of every aspect of the Ringling Bros. train.
    Each train car is custom built for a specific purpose at Feld Entertainment Rail Recycling Center in Palmetto, FL

…         It takes the Ringling Bros. rail recycling team 9000 man-hours to build one train car for The Greatest Show On EarthÆ.

…         Did you know?  The animal cars always ride at the front of the train, assuring the smoothest ride, right behind the engine!

--Above Information from:   



Opening 90 minutes before show time, the Ringling Bros.Æ Animal Open HouseSM is FREE to all ticketholders.

At the Animal Open House, visitors can learn about Ringling Bros. biggest stars, our Asian Elephants, and our commitment to animal conservation through informative kiosks, audio tours, or by asking one of our dedicated animal care team members.

Heading from their stalls to the performance.

Remember this orange ball being unloaded from the train?  It is always in the large tiger cage, not used in the performance.

Horses and Elephants before the performance, soon to be groomed and dressed for their part of the show.


Arrive an hour before show time and step onto the arena floor to meet our performers and animals.  It’s your chance to learn skills from the stars of the show and discover how to be CircusFitÆ. This action packed  event will get you Fully Charged and ready for the show to begin. Plus, watch one of our incredible Asian elephants paint a masterpiece, and enter for a chance to win your very own pachyderm painting. The fun starts an hour before show time, and it’s free with your ticket!

Little girls dreaming of being a dancer in the circus.

All dressed up, it was hard to tell which dancer
I had seen at the Animal Walk.

Warming up for the show.

A band travels with the show providing live music for the acts.

Plenty of souvenirs.


Cotton Candy!

"Please return to your seats, the show is about to begin!"

The Grand Parade starts the show

Remember this lady with the horses at the Animal Walk?

The individual acts

I did not see zebras at the Animal Walk, but I do remember the lady escorting the horses on the walk.

Tabayara “Taba” Maluenda

The horse acts were in all 3 rings at the same time.

I almost passed out from holding my breath
while watching this act.

Intermission - time for snacks and sourvenirs

Tabayara “Taba” Maluenda - Exotic Animal Trainer and Presenter, this time with the Tigers

My Video of one part of the Tiger Act:

After viewing the video, just use the right scroll bar to move down to the next section of this report.

If the embedded Tiger Video above does not work, Click Here.

Tabayara “Taba” Maluenda - Exotic Animal Trainer and Presenter, this time with the Elephants

After viewing the video, just use the right scroll bar to move down to the next section of this report.

If the embedded Elephant Video above does not work, Click Here.

Summary Video about the Circus Train

by Dallas-Ft. Worth Fox 4 - "Exclusive: Tour the Circus Train" - Published : Friday, 29 Jul 2011, 10:54 AM CDT

    FOX 4 News
DALLAS - Chip Waggoner has your ticket for an exclusive tour of the train that transports the cast and crew of the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus.

(Contrary to what Chip says, "We got to go into a couple of cars no one has been in,"  I'm proud to say I've been in both the cars he was in.  You can view my 2010 report with photos inside both the shop car and Pie Car, at )

If the video above does not play, Click Here:   Exclusive: Tour the Circus Train:

Our son, Matthew Morrison, 37, home from his Missionary duties in Paraguay, attended the circus with us.  Here are some  of his photos of the performance. 

He said a tent circus had come to his small village in Paraguay and turned out to be only a clown and dog show.  That circus was run out of town, however, because it was discovered that the main activity of the circus personnel was to steal cars that had been driven to the performance.

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Photo Credit for the following photos:  Matthew Morrison

The landing after being
Shot across the arena floor on fire!

Clowns awaiting the man shot across the arena.

  For a Slide Show of all photos in this report in large format, Click Here. 

If you look at the Ringling Facebook page, you will find many nice photos including this one of  the Challenger 3985, the worlds largest operating steam locomotive pulling the mile-long circus train needed to present Barnum's FUNundrum!

Ringling Facebook site:

You can get this cute computer desktop train at that tells you how long it will be until the train comes to a town near you:

Click Here to get this Desktop Train from

Photos of horses unloading circus wagons from flat cars.

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