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I'm hot to trot, Believe It Or Not
Ripley's Believe It Or Not (London)
Member Name: fruityzo
Ripley's Believe It Or Not (London)
Date: 09/07/09, updated on 09/07/09 (258 review reads)
Advantages: Quirky ~ good guest facilities ~ some nice ideas
Disadvantages: Lacked the 'wow' factor ~ younger children may get bored quickly
Every so often I venture into London to do something 'touristy', and during my latest visit I found myself ending up in Piccadilly Circus; stood in front of the entrance to 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not!'
WHAT IS RIPLEY'S?
I initially thought that the character of 'Ripley' was a fictitious one, however it actually turns out that he was a real man.
In 1923 New York, he (Robert Ripley) was asked to create a 'Believe It Or Not' book, which involved him traveling around the world to discover all sorts of curiosities.
The book was a huge success, and this led to him continuing to collect and discover all manner of strange things.
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"Ripley's Believe It or Not!® is the largest, fastest growing and most successful chain of amusement museum-type attractions in the world! There are now 30 Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditoriums in operation with more opening every year. The unique attractions feature exhibits that one must see to believe - exhibits that are so bizarre, so odd, so strange, that even the most worldly and knowledgeable guests will be awestruck!" - [www.ripleyslondon.com]
I felt the entrance was somewhat underwhelming, it looked like more of a strange gift shop when I stepped in, but then we came across (a rather miserable looking) staff member behind a small ticket desk & turn style.
By crikey, it certainly isn't the cheapest attraction ever, but I was hugely enticed by the promises of freaks, geeks, and chic!
Child [4 - 15] £17.90
Under 4 Free
Mirror Maze £4.95
* 2 Adults + 2 Children
After obtaining your tickets, you are guided to a lift, in which you are told to go to (if I remember correctly) floor 5 - this means you end up working your way down the museum.
Once in the lift, it started flashing & talking to me. I did not appreciate this as it made me jump, and I felt like a plank.
Thankfully it was just myself and the Other Half in there; so I only had to put up with him sniggering.
This place is definitely a feast for the eyes. There were many, many attractions, which I will not list because not only will it be very boring to read; but I simply cannot remember all of them!
Things of note ~
A jewel encrusted Mini Cooper * Marilyn Monroe Gallery * instruments of Torture Gallery * shrunken human heads * the worlds smallest car (as seen on Top Gear) * statues of the worlds tallest man & worlds fattest man * a book bound in human skin... the list goes on!
As I mentioned, the layout means that you work your way downwards through the museum. It is laid out well in a way that pulls you through, with no wrong turns or false corridors to wander off down.
It is generally split into gallery style rooms, but in the corridors and walkways linking, you will find lots of nice quirky touches such as motion sensor exhibits; (I managed to keep my cool around all but one of these).
When you come to the end of the museum, you are naturally forced to exit through the gift shop (as most places cause you to do nowadays). All I will say with regards to the gift shop is that it was shocking. When I say shocking, I mean full of complete tat (more so than the usual you'd expect).
The shop sold very little Ripley's merchandise other than a couple of bags, a few pencils, and a mug (which incidentally is what the shop seems to take people for).
The rest seemed to be full of sweets (that can be found in ANY newsagents for half the price), and a few plastic animals, (I wasn't completely sure of how they linked to the contents of the museum).
MY OVERALL THOUGHTS:
There were parts of Ripley's I loved, but I also felt let down in a lot of ways. Unfortunately I do feel that the cons outweigh the pros in the case of this attraction.
*Lots of quirky exhibits, including things you wouldn't expect to find in a typical museum. It was nice to see original historical artifacts, such as clothing hundreds of years old, or part of the Berlin Wall (which incidentally, I felt was completely under-emphasised - see cons).
*Opportunity to interact with some of the exhibits (i.e. they talk to you/flash/move/film you); including silly things to make you giggle.
*Easy to find your way round, including plenty of toilet facilities (which were VERY clean).
*Easy to get to using buses or the underground.
*I felt there weren't enough of the interactive exhibits, and 2 of them were not working at the time of our visit.
Similarly, I did not feel there was enough information with some attractions (I found myself trying to search it out); whereas others offered far too much information for what it was. I think this would render Ripley's unsuitable for particularly young children, as I believe they would get bored quite quickly.
**[As an addition; I feel that some exhibits may have been a little distressing for younger children, and I couldn't see there being any parental advisory or warning prior to these].
*Ripley's (in my opinion) needs to have a more even spread of what they choose to exhibit. For example, although interesting, the Marilyn Monroe Gallery seemed to be a little excessive; whereas other things that I found more interesting (such as how the human heads were shrunk), were placed near the very end, and seemed to be somewhat underwhelming in their display and descriptions in comparison.
*I personally felt that the museum lacked a little coherence; it didn't appear to follow a format such as a time line, or cultural linkage.
I found it a little confusing to be studying a man with half a body, then to be dipping my hand in freezing water (the Titanic exhibit), and then to study Marilyn's make up bag!
*The nature of the building means that there are stairs. I did notice that you can use the lift to descend if needs be, but I'm not sure if it'd mean you'd miss some parts of the galleries. Thus, I wouldn't recommend to anyone with mobility difficulties.
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Although this was a fun touristy type thing to do, I don't think I would re-visit Ripley's.
It took us around an hour and a half to wander round, but I did find myself becoming a little bored in some of the rooms. This was partly due to me expecting to be 'wowed' and amazed by everything that I came into contact with. However, I did find some things quite tame, and having seen/read about these things before, the 'believe it or not' factor didn't even come into it.
As a one off, the entrance fee is fairly standard (and in some cases better value) than the usual London attraction fees.
The member of staff did try to up-sell me 'mirror maze' tickets, but I wasn't interested, and they gave me no explanation or incentive as to why I should part with additional funds. Thus meaning I can only assume that it was just a run-of-the-mill mirror maze!
It is a great concept for an attraction, but could do with a little more work going into it.
Address: The London Pavilion, 1 Piccadilly Circus, London W1J 0DA
Open: Open 7 days a week, 365 days of the year
10.00 - midnight (last entry 22.30)
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Summary: Pop in if you're passing & have an hour or so to spare.
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