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The Oddities That Start from a Man Collecting Things

A look at how Ripley's Believe It or Not! Came to become a world wide phenomenon.

By: Thomas Whitehead
Category: Travel
Posted: Aug 19, 2010
Updated: Aug 19, 2010
Views: 208

A franchise founded by Robert Leroy Ripley, Ripley's Believe It or Not! details bizarre events and items that some will consider strange and unusual that the reader may be mystified by, and will question the Legitimacy of the claims. The book became so popular, that it has been adapted into a wide range of formats such as radio, television, a chain of museums, a book series and even a pinball game.

Ripley's collection is as follows: 20,000 photographs, 20,000 artefacts and more than 130,000 cartoon panels, with 50 plus attractions. The company is based in Orlando and the estimated guests who attend his museums is roughly 12 million per year.

He first displayed his collection to the public at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, he labelled it 'Ripley's Odditorium' and it had over two million visitors during the run of the fair. It' success led to him travelling in a trailer touring the country during then rest of the of the 1930s. His collections were exhibited at many major fairs and expositions in cities such as San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and Cleveland. In New York his famed Times Square exhibit opened in 1939 on Broadway.

His oldest and first permanent Odditorium is the St. Augustine which was purchased shortly after his death. It opened in 1950 and became home to his vast collection. It is referred to as the castle but it was originally a hotel that many famous people stayed at; even Ripley himself had been there.
The Castle was so popular and successful that Ripley's associates opened a few new museums throughout America, although the Castle is the place that is home to Ripley's most treasured collections and is the flagship Odditorium. There are even rumours that it is haunted!

The Orlando branch is housed in a Bavarian style building that is deliberately disproportioned to look like part of it has disappeared into one of the infamous sink holes of the state. Inside there are such oddities as a statue of a 1,069-pound man, torture devices from the Spanish Inquisition and a replica of a 1907 Rolls Royce built from more than a million matchsticks. There are exhibits for people of all age, although there will be some not are not suitable for children. So if you want a break from the usual theme park trip and don't want to stay by your pool at your Orlando vacation rental then pop by and be amazed - or at least confused!

Ripley isn't only based in America, they have museums all over the world in fact the world's biggest museum is in London. But that wasn't the first one to make across to the United Kingdom, as the Odditorium appeared in Blackpool and Great Yarmouth, this one was closed down and changed into a mini golf course that actually uses leftovers from the Odditorium. There are also others in Canada, Asia, Mexico, Denmark and Australia. There have also been a few programs around that have visited one of the many Odditoriums, looking at all of the Oddities.

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