You definitely do not need to be an avid museum-goer to appreciate the oddities and exhibits on display at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square. I checked it out with my dad and brother, and all three of us were able to appreciate the various attractions, which attests to its appeal across all ages and personalities. [Quick disclaimer: do not expect to visit a museum with “believe it or not” in its title and not hear countless dad jokes along the lines of “hmm..I believe it..or not!” throughout the building.]
Upon entering the museum, you’re immediately enveloped in seemingly unbelievable images and stories, and you’re invited to become part of the museum through an exhibit demonstrating how to make half of your body “disappear.” Further venturing into Ripley’s reveals models of animals who were of a truly remarkable size, as well as art pieces made of unexpected materials, like stamps.
The museum as a whole is dedicated to displaying the intriguing artifacts collected by Ripley throughout his life. Each room has a designated theme, with one of the coolest ones being devoted to different types of torture used in medieval times (I’m not a psychopath, I swear). Patrons of the museum are able to check out detailed displays of “werewolf repellent” kits, chains in which criminals were publically displayed, and cages intended to house criminals.
Other exhibits include an extensive ode to baseball over the years and a room with models of artifacts found in the depths of the ocean following the sinking of the Titanic (including a model of how a styrofoam cup would have been affected by the extreme water pressure, which is a lot cooler than it sounds). Visitors can then walk over a glass encasement of tiny ships to the soothing sound of waves breaking.
Following this particular exhibit is a stairway whose steps represent different keys on a piano, eventually leading to a room full of brain teasers and optical illusions (this room gets a 10/10). One of the posters (included following this post) asks you to read a list of colors that are written in a different color than they say, which is trickier to do than you would expect. Once you exit this room, you’re led to the best optical illusion of them all: a mirror display that makes it look like you’re hanging on to the top of the Empire State Building for dear life.
Other attractions include an exhibit explaining the process of making a shrunken head, a room full of animal oddities (2-headed goat, anyone?), and portraits constructed out of pennies. One attraction (if you can call it that) invites visitors to stick their heads into a little bubble that allows them to be surrounded by live cockroaches, and in a somewhat similar fashion, another attraction allows you to stick your head in a bubble that makes it look like your head is floating in a jar, allowing you to scare other visitors when you move.
The hands-down best part of the Ripley’s museum comes near the end, and is the “spinning vortex tunnel.” This was, for lack of a better word, the trippiest experience I have ever had. Essentially, visitors walk along a stable bridge surrounded by a spinning tunnel, and it’s impossible to not feel as though you’re spinning, too. My brother attempted to run across, and was so disoriented that he almost immediately wiped out. If you lean over the railing, you’ll feel a falling sensation, and as you walk, you can’t help but feel as though the bridge itself is spinning. If you’re the type to become anxious around this sort of experience, just close your eyes as you walk across and you won’t even register that your surroundings are moving.
In terms of price, Ripley’s costs around 30$ for an adult and 23$ for anyone under 12 years old, and if someone outside approaches you with a flyer for a cheaper admission, definitely take advantage of that. The whole museum takes between 1 and 2 hours to fully explore, depending on how in depth you study each attraction. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum is definitely a unique experience attracting a wide variety of visitors, and despite its relatively tourist-y reputation, local New Yorkers and first time New York City travelers alike will find themselves in awe at least several times while strolling through the museum of oddities. Can you believe it?
For more information: https://www.ripleysnewyork.com
**Don’t forget about my accompanying Instagram (@newyorkci_tay), which features daily posts, including videos of the spinning vortex!**