Robert Leroy Ripley started out by drawing sport oddities for The Globe and ended up as the creator of Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditoriums, perhaps the world's first staycation experience.
He first came up with his catchphrase "Believe it or Not" as the title for his cartoons and continued to use it while he traveled the world and shared his discoveries. He would find the most exotic things, like shrunken heads, to less exotic but still equally astounding things, such as a bearded lady and draw them or bring home examples.
Spending time with these same treasures can transport the whole family to another world; they continue to astound us years later even after we have become “worldly.” I guarantee that in one day you and your family will have fun, feel refreshed, and learn a lot of odd facts.
Without further ado, we turn to Ripley's Believe It or Not Times Square.
Ripley's Believes It's Times Square, New York
New York City’s very own Ripley’s Odditorium is located in the heart of Times Square. Before you even pay admission, you may see something weird because Ripley’s provides free sideshows outside which can be anything from sword swallowing to magic and incredible stunts.
As you pass them by and enter the museum you’ll be greeted with a realistic looking Bumblebee from Transformers, a (mechanical) bearded lady and a man (I’m assuming her husband) singing songs such as Under My Umbrella. And this is only a small hint of what you’ll be seeing!
Once inside, you can go in any direction you want, just make sure you don’t miss any exhibitions. While there are tours, Ripley’s suggests not taking one as they want each guest to “explore at their own pace” and wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on something they’d really like. With a museum like Ripley’s, you’ll truly want to take your time to read the plaques and take pictures.
Exhibits cover a range of facts and history that will amaze most and entertain all. There is a Tunnel of Love — not at all what the name implies. Instead of romantic lighting and music, you’ll learn what other cultures consider "beauty" and all of its exhibits are truly surprising. There is a Torture Chamber filled with gadgets used to punish people in the olden days.
Fun fact (one out of the many you’ll know when you leave): Did you know men could report their wives for gossiping too much? If a wife was reported, she’d have to wear the iron piggy mask of shame.
Small sculptures put on the head of a pin, recycled fashion, part of the Berlin wall, freaky accidents and more. Ripley’s is not only about looking at artifacts, they have many interactive ones as well such as Recollections, black hole tunnel, laser race, and the music room. Be ready to laugh, learn, and marvel. You’ll be leaving amazed and more knowledgeable.
Makes sure to Stop by these Ripley's Exhibits
Just this month, July 2013, Ripley’s bought and set up a sculpture of the World Trade Center Memorial –made out of matches! The amount of detail that went into it is astounding.
Ripley’s is known for the World’s Largest Shrunken Heads Collection, so it would be a shame not to see it. You’ll learn how to make your very own shrunken head and why you should have one. You can also add your head to the collection when you take a picture of your head by using a special kiosk. Decorate your head with war paint, bones, and hair.
Dare to go through the black hole tunnel before entering the shrunken heads exhibit — you’ll be giggling and laughing as you try to walk through the tunnel. For the faint of heart, there’s a “Cowards Bypass.”
The Fastest Tour of New York City – for time strapped tourists and New Yorkers. "Sixteen steps down a staircase," goes from the Bronx to Wall Street, and it's filled with scenery and noises from the city.
Ripley’s has a new room called “Recollections.” Here guests can dance or move around and see their moves projected and repeated in fluorescent rainbow colors.
Lastly, before you leave, go to the bathroom. Even if you don’t have to go, go.
Trip Planning Details for a Ripley's Times Square Outing
This summer Ripley’s has declared July and August to be “Oddest Summer on Record” and this means discounts and weird, fun events. For example, when the day gets to be 91 F, get a 19% discount. Ripley’s also loves to celebrate odd holidays; july 21 was International Ice Cream Day and Ripley’s gave free samples of ice cream. But not your ordinary chocolate or vanilla ice cream — pizza, pickle, and herring were some of the flavors offered. Check their calendar for more discounts and events at the Times Square New York location.
Even if you have visited a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium, do not hesitate to visit another one in a different place. Each odditorium is different since it asks locals to contribute to its exhibits.
The fun doesn’t stop there! You can have birthday parties and sleepovers at many Odditoriums. Read about this FTF writer’s sleepover experience and plan your own trip to another world.
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