Believe It Or Not
8201 International Drive, Orlando 32819
Adults $16.95, children (4 to 12) $11.95, plus tax; parking is free
Hours: Daily 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.; last ticket
sold at midnight
Location: Next to the Mercado on I-Drive
Is that an ornate Italian villa sliding into a Florida sinkhole on International Drive or is it just Ripley’s Believe It Or Not? It’s Ripley’s, of course, and the zanily tilted building is only one of the illusions on display here (and one of the best)
Robert Ripley was a newspaper cartoonist whose series on oddities and wonders, man-made and natural, made him a very wealthy man and an American institution. The Orlando Ripley’s is one of several monuments to Ripley’s weird and wonderful collections, gathered in the course of visits to some 198 countries at a time when such globe-trotting travel was still a challenge. On display here are objects collected by Ripley himself, along with others gathered after his death, and a series of show-and-tell displays illustrating a variety of optical and spatial illusions.
Where else are you going to see a real two-headed calf? Or the Mona Lisa recreated in small squares of toasted bread? Or a three-quarter scale Rolls Royce crafted from over a million matchsticks? Most displays here are fascinating, although a few are not for the squeamish and some may strike you as tasteless. Best of all are the show-and-tell displays, like an elaborately tilted and skewed room in which the balls on a pool table seem to roll uphill. There is also a giddily disorienting catwalk through a rock-walled tunnel. From the outside, it is obvious that the walls are moving, but step inside, onto the catwalk, and suddenly the walls seem to be rock solid and it is the catwalk that seems to be rotating.
Nearby: SeaWorld, Titanic, Train Land, Wet ’n Wild, WonderWorks.
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