Craig recommends… Here’s my latest Ripley’s Museum review. The most popular family attractions in London are the waxworks at Madame Tussauds, dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, followed by space rockets at the Science Museum and London Zoo. Shrek’s Adventure is good for little kids, and the Harry Potter Studios Tour is better for older ones.
Important note: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! has now closed down. There are currently no plans to reopen it.
This review originally appeared in his London blog
Don’t even think about going here because it’s a tourist trap. If you take a family of four then you’ll need the best part of 100 quid, which is totally ridiculous.
The idea behind Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum is that all the exhibits are weird, strange and freaky things that shouldn’t exist – like a five-legged sheep, for example. Apparently this Ripley guy toured the world collecting all the oddities he could lay his hands on, so he could luzz them into his little freaky museum. It’s a bit like the Sir John Soane’s Museum, I suppose – but instead of collecting important artworks and classical sculptures he picked up pictures made out of chewing gum and matchstick models of Tower Bridge.
The problem is that most of the stuff is not wierd at all – like Charles II’s gloves, or Henry VIII’s shoe. Nothing wierd about those. And he’s nabbed a little piece of a meteorite as well, which sits alongside some signed photos of the astronauts. What’s wierd about those?
Other exhibits are just ridiculous, like a bowl of normal water chilled down to minus 10 degrees. The idea is that you can put your hand inside and feel how cold the ocean was when the Titanic sank. Wow! (I paid thirty quid for this?)
A lot of the paintings on display are truly awful: portraits created out of burnt toast and hamburger grease, and a portrait of the Queen made out of pennies. Yawn. Zzzzz.
One section of the museum is devoted to torture (in case you’re getting bored and feel like doing yourself in?). They’ve got an Iron Maiden and ball and chain etc., and a poor old geezer sitting in an electric chair waiting for you to press the button and fry him. Take my advice: if you want to see some torture exhibits then go to the Clink Prison or the London Dungeon or – even better – the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London. Don’t go to this place.
One of the most disappointing things about the museum is that a lot of the truly weird exhibits just consist of a photo. Take the Elephant Man, for example. He is certainly weird enough to be in the Ripley Museum, but all you get is a black and white photo and a little placard to tell you who he was. That’s it.
It gets better when they bring out the waxworks. They’ve got waxwork models of the world’s ugliest woman, the world’s hairest man, and some freaky looking geezer who can pop his eyeballs out of their sockets. They’ve got a life-size model of the world’s tallest man as well, and the world’s tiniest midget. They’ve also got a little zoo of freaky animals like a sheep with five legs, and a chicken with a couple of extra drumsticks. None of them are real though. They’re not stuffed – they’re just models.
There’s also a very exciting ‘Mirror Maze’ to finish. This is basically the same as the one they’ve got in the London Dungeon, only it’s nowhere near as good because there’s none of the scary stuff alongside it. It’s not themed. It’s just a load of mirrored walls, so it looks like the room stretches out for a million miles. They make you put on some plastic gloves beforehand so you don’t smudge all the mirrors, and then you just stroll around trying to find the exit. It took me about two minutes.
So, to sum it all up… if the entry fee was ten quid then I might have recommended it, but charging thirty pounds for this is a total joke. The only reason they can get away with charging that amount is because it’s at Piccadilly Circus and all the tourists are awash with spending money and haven’t worked out the exchange rate yet.
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If you enjoy this then try: London Dungeon (walk it in 18 mins or catch a train from Piccadilly Circus to London Dungeon); Madame Tussauds (walk it in 26 mins or catch a train from Piccadilly Circus to Madame Tussauds) and Shrek’s Adventure (walk it in 18 mins or catch a train from Piccadilly Circus to Shrek’s Adventure).