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Monday, January 31, 2011

Review ~ Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium ~ Orlando

Last month the kids and I were fortunate enough to go on a wonderful trip to Florida with some dear friends.  We were on a pretty tight budget, so the big theme parks weren't on our itinerary this trip.  I knew there were plenty of other places to visit in Orlando!  My seven year old has a huge appetite for learning, and I thought he would really enjoy Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium. 

We visited Ripley's on our first full day in Orlando, which happened to be the coldest day of the this winter so far in Orlando - it was in the 20's, brrrrrrrrr!  When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was that the building is tilted!  Really, it looks like it is being swallowed by a sinkhole - yikes!

This picture is from the Ripley's website, and shows the exterior of the Orlando Ripley's Believe it or Not!

Parking is free, and there is a shopping center next door with plenty of extra parking spaces if the Ripley's one is full.   Once inside the newly-renovated, 10,000 square foot building, we started our self-guided tour with many other folks trying to avoid the cold weather! 

Each gallery you visit is full of interesting displays.  Depending on how much reading you want to do, you could easily spend a couple of hours looking at every single item!  But when you have little ones, you tend to follow at their pace, and my kids were all about looking quickly and moving on to the next thing! 

First we learned about Robert Ripley, the founder of Ripley's Believe it or Not.  He was an explorer, an adventurer, and cartoonist.  He spent much of his life on a quest for unusual and bizarre items to share with his readers through his cartoons.  He truly had a passion for finding unique things to share with his readers, and he traveled the globe seeking them out!  Eventually he began hosting a television show to showcase his collections.  There were many books written detailing his unique finds over the years as well.  David loves reading the Ripley's yearbook at the library and here he is next to an entire stack of Ripley's books at the Orlando location - my boy was in book heaven!

David with a huge stack of Ripley's books!
Even after his death in 1958, Robert Ripley's legacy continued through his cartoons and the many Ripley's museums.   Millions of visitors are entertained at his museums every year!

Soon after your tour begins, you'll find change machines, so go ahead and cash in some dollar bills for quarters.  You'll be glad you did when you enter the next gallery where you can use them in various novelty machines.  There are also brain teasers, optical illusions and interactive exhibits to try!  David used some of his change to have his fortune told, and he and Katie even tried out the passion throne (against my wishes!!)   This section reminded me of a game arcade and it was very exciting for kids.

David in the Passion Throne - it said he is passionate, which cracked him up!!

Next up is the tilted room.  It will mess with your head, let me tell you! But it's so much fun to walk through this room at an angle, and the kids loved that the balls on the pool table rolled uphill!

You will feel very off-center while walking through this tilted-sideways room!
There are a variety of collections to see in each of the 16 unique galleries.  And there are a few surprises along the way! For example, keep an eye out for tourists who aren't what they seem!  Both my kids thought the wax figures were hilarious!

Believe it or not, she isn't a tourist, she's a wax figure!! And her "hubby" is in the same gallery!

A few of our favorite things at the Orlando Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium are below:

This HUGE wall mural of Jimi Hendrix was made with over 8000 playing cards!
So amazing to see an actual piece of the Berlin Wall!
There are so many exhibits of human oddities, like this man with double pupils.  Fascinating stuff for kids & adults!
There is so much more to see.  Like the lifesize model car made entirely of matchsticks, or the gallery of miniatures you can observe.  There's a real human shrunken head, and authenticated dinosaur eggs!  There is even a gallery with animal anomalies.  Check out the picture of Beyonce, made entirely of candy! Trust me, you won't want to miss any of it!

An actual human shrunken head
I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to because I was chasing David from exhibit to exhibit! He loved it all!  Katie was with her friend and they went ahead without me - who wants to hang out with your mom (or your friend's mom) when you are a teenager?! Both girls enjoyed the Odditorium as much as David did;  it truly is fun for every member of the family!  The displays will interest young and old alike.  There are even large flat screen tv's throughout the museum showing behind-the-scenes footage and information about various exhibits.

Before you exit the exhibit area, you'll discover a trick played on unsuspecting visitors! And then there is the coolest tunnel you can walk through to get out.  It feels like you are moving, but it's really a walk-through tunnel that moves around you! If you don't want to try it, you can bypass the tunnel and exit through a hallway. We walked through it more than once, getting dizzier each time! So much FUN!

On the way out of the building make sure to take a look at the gift shop.  You'll find the usual wares - t-shirts and more bearing the Ripley's logo, plus lots of toys and fun stuff for the kids. There are items for any budget.  My son was intrigued by the insect candy.  Yes - lollipops and other candy with worms, scorpions and such! Just what you'd expect at the Believe it or Not! Gift Shop.

We really enjoyed our visit to Ripley's Orlando, and I can honestly say it is a place families would have a blast exploring together for a few hours.  As I mentioned before, there is something for everyone!

 Ripley's is very easy to find on International Drive.  The address is 8201 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819 and their phone number is 407-345-0501.  They open every day of the year at 9:30am and the website says they are open til midnight!

Visit the Ripley's Orlando website here. To buy tickets online visit here.  Tey have a Valentine's Special coming up with 50% off tickets only on February 14th.  If you buy the tickets online, they are good for one year from date of purchase, so you can enjoy the savings and use the tickets later!   Check out the details on this Valentine's Special here.    You can follow Ripley's Orlando on Twitter here.

Giveaway!

I have a coupon we received in a Kids Meal from Wendy's that is good for free admission for up to 3 kids with the purchase of an adult ticket.  It's good at any Ripley's attraction through September 30, 2011.  I'd like to give this to one of my blog followers!  If you are planning a trip before September 30 and will definitely be able to use it, please leave me a comment below and I'll draw a winner on Valentine's Day. 

Have you ever visited Ripley's? Which location did you visit, and what did you think of it?




***The kids and I received free admission to Ripley's Orlando in exchange for this review.  However, the opinions expressed are completely and totally my own! *** 

5 comments:

  1. Hey girl, we've been there several times, I also enjoyed it and the kids had fun. 20 in Florida, yeah you guys sure got lucky , he he. We usually go down there to escape the cold, that sucks.

    Bella :)

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  2. Bella,

    We went down the day after Christmas, & left snow on the ground here! It was so cold in Orlando!! But it was Florida, so we were happy to be there! : ) We loved seeing the inside attractions we visited - Disney & Orlando would have been not so fun at 28 degrees! lol
    Aimee

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  3. Stopping by from the Tuesday Hops to say hello.
    Come on by if you are able to.
    http://poshonabudget.com/2011/01/happy-tuesday-3.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Following along on the Tues Blog Hop, hope you'll come by and visit me too. We might be moving to Atlanta in the near future ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
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