If you have traveled to some of the touristy destinations you may have seen one of unique structures that house Ripley’s Believe It or Not attractions worldwide. The outside of these oddity museums are designed to draw the attention of people passing by. What is found on the inside is just as unusual and startling. Ripley’s coined the phrase “Odditorium” to describe their entertaining collection of artifacts and exhibits. We dropped by their Gatlinburg, Tennessee location to check out the oddities galore that are found inside.
We want to thank Ripley’s for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
By doing a little research, we were able to discover that each of their sites holds 400 to 700 exhibits. We visited on a rainy evening, after a filling dinner. The chance to walk off some of our calories looked unlikely, since we found ourselves wrapped up in examining the displays more than strolling. The museum is designed to highlight the odd and unusual from all areas of life on earth. Many are concentrated on the strange hobbies that people have engaged in over the years. The life-size statues help paint the picture more clearly.
For each display there is an informational placard. Here, we were able to get some backstory on the person, place or thing that was being highlighted. The stories from Ripley’s have been heard for many years. As children we would enjoy investigating the oddities galore that were found inside each copy of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not books. Everything seemed so exotic and far-fetched that it was hard to imagine. At the Odditorium, you get a better perspective by seeing the exhibits in person.
One of the ares that Robert Ripley liked to feature were human hobbies. While some would be as simple as swallowing coins or nails, others took a slightly scary turn. The idea of people using their bodies as a living canvas is easily evidenced by the number of tattoo shops. When it comes to having your teeth filed or implants for horns, that is a slightly different idea. While most of us would never consider doing this, it certainly makes for a conversation starter when you see what some others have done.
One of My Favorites
Many of you may not know this, but I have a thing for collecting masks. The walls of our home office hold the ones that I have picked up along the way. When I saw this display, I was immediately drawn to it. To me, it is amazing that so many different cultures, from all over the globe, developed masks as a means of storytelling. It shows that down deep we are all very similar to each other. There is something magical about the ability to change a story-line simply by assuming a new face.
Inside Ripley’s we found a variety of interactive exhibits. As always, Crystal had to play the part of the subject, since I was busy behind the lens. There were some displays that allowed us both to interact, but it would have been difficult to capture those in photos. Rest assured that I was just as big of a kid as she was, during our visit. If you go to the Gatlinburg location, be sure to take full advantage of the mirror walk that captures your image in a various number of speeds. It’s fun to watch the replay of you sliding across the space, even though you had walked at a normal pace.
At strategic points in the museum, we came across these placards. A throwback to the original books that we enjoyed, these factoids are what we remember from our youth. My mother was surely entertained when I would read for her, stories from the latest issue. How many of you remember these unusual books from the 60’s and 70’s? We know they continued in popularity, since our kids would find these during their school days, as well.
It is hard to say just how long we spent exploring the Odditorium. By the time we were ready to leave, the crowds on the Gatlinburg strip had thinned to near nothing. These were the times we enjoyed just walking along and talking about our day. It helps cement the memories by discussing our favorite parts of each stop. The walk also gave us a chance to discuss the upcoming day, and what fun adventures it would hold. While we may not be finding oddities galore, like Robert Ripley did, we were still having tons of new experiences.