I tell my husband every day that I love that we moved away from Maine. There are SO many cool things to do within a couple of hours of us, we've packed our summer full with things to do with the kiddos. Most recently, we were given the opportunity to check out and review Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium in Baltimore, Maryland. Turns out, we're less than 50 miles away so that made for a relatively quick trip. Awesome!
The Ripley's Odditorium is located right in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The location was absolutely beautiful. So, if you're just coming in for the day, definitely make sure you do a little walking around as well. The great part is that Ripley's is open 365 days a year and they're open late. There is a LOT of parking surrounding the area, but none specifically designated for Ripley's so make sure you budget about $25 unless you go during the times where the parking garages offer discounts for Ripley's goers.
"The foundation of our museum exhibit collection was set by Robert L. Ripley (1890-1949), a cartoonist, explorer, reporter, adventurer, and collector, who traveled to 201 countries in 35 years seeking the odd, the unusual, and the unexplained." ~ Ripley's
Right away Ripley's greets you with a bunch of odd. The opening to the Odditorium is quite large, which is great since when we arrived they were starting to get very busy. So, everyone congregates at the entrance where you can ooooh and aaaaah over a Mini Cooper covered in Swarovsky Crystals, a wall of soda cans done by Michael Jackson the "King of Pop" (get it), and Bumblebee the Transformer. There are also some animatronics playing instruments including a two-headed woman, and a three-legged man. Then there's the big one. And, by that I mean an animatronic of the World's Largest Man. (My daughter was terrified of it unfortunately and that kind of set her mood for the rest of the time we were there.) When you're done with the first floor, it's time to head upstairs. The stairs are actually really pretty neat. Each step up is a new musical note. My daughter LOVED this part. Usually anything with music and you've caught her full attention.
When you head upstairs the first gallery you step into is the Ripley's Gallery. This gallery has some really neat items including various swords, a collection of royal crowns and tiaras (oooooh shiney!), African masks, and so many other neat artifacts.
The ONE thing I didn't really care for was that you have to pay for each individual attraction at Ripley's. So, you can JUST go to the Odditorium, or you can pay to go to only two of the attractions, or you can pay to go to the Odditorium, Mirror Maze, and the 4D Theater. Personally I think one ticket should get you in to all three attractions especially given the price. However, if you are vacationing, or want to just plan a fun weekend, Ripley's should be on your "must see" list. Also, make sure to buy your tickets online and print them (or they can print them for you). You'll save BIG bucks!My absolute favorite gallery in the Odditorium was the Weird Art Gallery. There were so many incredibly unique pieces of art that it was difficult to even wrap my head around it all. There were portraits of the Clintons drawn with hamburger grease, a giant penny made from thousands upon thousands of other normal size pennies, the world's largest piece of lint art, and a breath taking sculpture made from drift wood. I think some of my favorite pieces included a "painting" made from old mail, and a really strange human hair wreath sculpture. Oh! And the most intricate carving I have ever seen made with bone. A more kid friendly gallery is the Interactives Gallery. There are lots of buttons for the kids to push that light up or make sounds. It's a little quieter than the first couple of galleries that have music blasting. The Warehouse Gallery was also pretty neat. Unfortunately my camera kind of crapped out on me and I couldn't get any photos in the dim light that weren't blurry. Urgh. But, you can head over to the Ripley's site and check out their own photos they took. There was a gigantic pop tart foil T-Rex just hanging out, but the thing that my daughter loved the most was this interactive projector that would put a game onto the floor and you play it with your feet. She did this for about 10 minutes and made some friends in the process. Super cool. And, before leaving the warehouse you get to step through a human size kaleidoscope. The lights and the mirrors were pretty nifty. After visiting the rest of the galleries including the Toothpick City (which has tunnels for the kids to crawl through), Ripley's Vault (that has a HUGE carved piece of Jade you can touch for good luck), and the Egyptian Gallery, we made our way to the Marvelous Mirror Maze.
"A totally new concept in amusement design, Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze provides a different experience every time you enter. With sound and lighting effects to enhance the experience, the maze features 2,000 square feet of mirrored path, surprising corners, dead ends and continuous circles." ~ Ripley's
There are more than 100 mirrors all lit by LED lights with your experience accompanied by digital sound. Before entering you're asked to put on plastic gloves and you're told to walk with your hands in front of you. My husband kind of used the stroller for that instead, and he definitely bumped it around. The maze was so much fun that we went through for a second turn. There is a huge mirrored room as you near the end of the maze that is absolutely gorgeous. It was fun to just stand in there and look around at all of the mirrors. It was like glow bugs were lighting up the night sky. Absolutely spectacular to see.
Finally we went to the 4D Moving Theater. The room was smaller than I thought, but that's kind of nice if you have kids. We had a place near the front to leave our stroller during the show. And, while the show isn't probably more than 20 minutes total, if that, there were two different "movies to experience and it was definitely fun. Snow goes flying, the seats jerk around, things brush by your feet, and misty air blasts into your face. They really need to up the quality of the 3D glasses they use because they don't really fit your face well, and the plastic lenses are kind of cheap, but otherwise, we had a great time!