Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! in Branson, Missouri has been a number one attraction since 1994, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors every year through its crazy maze of over 450 unusual cultural displays and record-breaking finds!
The friendly ticket taker has loads of information and is more than happy to answer any questions about Ripley or the museum, no matter how obscure! On sale up front is Ripley’s Souvenir Guide, which gives a detailed history of the exhibits on display in Branson and from other Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museums from around the world (only $3).
Immediately upon entering the museum’s turnstiles, guests are greeted by a holographic Ripley from his study in which he personally explains his travels and discoveries in detail, serving as a nice introduction to what you’re about to see. African and Oriental artifacts dot Ripley’s study, such as spirit masks that ward off evil and peace pipes used by the leaders of a tribe. You then enter a mind games room full of brain teasers and optical illusions with interactive displays that kids especially love! This is a great opportunity to let your children run out their energy without feeling like they’re getting in the way or disturbing others.
This place has so many unique objects that no matter where you look, you’ll find something interesting to look at. Several antique Esmerelda-style palm readings and love measuring machines test your romance for a quarter! Unique art decorates the walls and draws your eyes for double takes, like a picture of strategically-placed barcodes that resemble Elvis Presley (and scanning each different bar code with your smartphone plays a different Elvis song!), and four unwound tape cassettes that look like Lauryn Hill and her curly mess of hair – you just have to see it to believe it! There’s also a topsy-turvy funhouse room that seems to defy the laws of gravity – watch as your eyes deceive you when objects roll uphill toward the ceiling!
The coolest part of the museum has to be the photography stand about halfway through the tour, where you can take pictures set against attractive background scenes. For instance, the Shrek family (from the Disney films) is one of the most popular choices for families with children, and Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate princess portrait for couples gets picked often. The portraits are available for print on the spot by a professional who knows all about correct cropping and Photoshop. Machines from the classic 1968 Dick Van Dyke movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang like the Sweet Machine and the Dragon Carpet Cleaner are an unexpected treat. Special note: Beware of the two-way mirrors throughout the museum! You never know who’s on the other side watching you checking your teeth!
See the authentic shrunken heads and fertility dolls actually collected by Ripley from remote desert tribes in deep Africa! The shrunken heads room plays a video (narrated by Morgan Freeman) that shows and explains in great detail the intricate process of shrinking heads, from the scalping all the way down to the boiling! There’s also sacred ceremonial dolls and obscure artifacts like skull bowls and hand-crafted percussive drums from deep jungles. The nautical section carries a few must-see treasures, like a white fur-bearing trout found deep underwater. Remember those old trading cards that came in cigarette packs? They have hundred-year-old cards, with sets ranging from British royalty to classic baseball players (they even have an old Honus Wagner!) Colorful miniature art (like The Last Supper painted on a small coin) makes you wonder how the elaborate process took place. Slide into the cool, dark theatre as clips play of amazing feats of endurance, strength, and balance from the TV show Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! (a great opportunity for a break, with bench seating, cool air conditioning, and a bathroom just around the corner).
Easy access to the elevators for strollers and wheelchairs ensures everyone gets to see all of the exhibits. The large gift shop includes lots of toys, ethnic finds like handmade purses from Nepal, handbags, necklaces, jewelry, tubes of flavored powdered sugar, and Branson merchandise. The gift shop also houses a candy shop straight from your dreams – various chocolates, Tootsie rolls, peach rings, blue sharks, Nerd-like candy, and much more!