About a month ago I visited the John and Mabel Ringling Museum in Sarasota, and have been meaning to do this trip report ever since. Its about 2 hours from Disney World, and I think it would appeal to Disney types who are looking for something different to do if you've been to Orlando many times.
It is composed of several parts. Originally, it was the Ringling's Art Museum - and that is still there. But what seems to have happened is the the new expansions are focussing more on the history of the Circus, which is course is how he made his fortune. When I had gone years ago, the circus stuff was kind of more to the side, but now they have two whole large buildings of Circus memorabilia - animal wagons, the Ringling's private train car, and a most impressive model of an actual circus layout. This was the part that made me want to report about this on MiceChat - because as I was looking at the model I realized - this was really the original traveling theme park. The model shows everything, from the trains to the staff tents, and all the "guest areas" including how they did outdoor restrooms with big fabric walls. As I looked more, I saw how certain areas were like the "pre-show" before you went into the "Big Top". It also reminded me of a few of the opening scenes of Dumbo. The model was all done to scale, and was so detailed - and also depicts both daytime and nighttime scenes.
The museum also has the Ringling's House Ca d'Zan - a Mediterranean mansion on the water's edge, beautifully restored. It has various shades of the same interior decoration used in the lobby of "Tower of Terror".
You could easily spend a full day there. I highly recommend it.