Feel like you’ve seen it all when it comes to family attractions in the Inner Harbor? Have you seen a portrait of Hillary Clinton rendered in shades of fast food grease? No? Then you haven’t seen anything yet.
You also likely haven’t visited the Odditorium at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Chesapeake Bay’s own “Cheesie” welcomes visitors from his perch atop this three story adventure into the world’s wildest, most wacky and unbelievable exhibition of amazement.
The Odditorium is chock full of displays of art and artistry, history and oddities. My six year old daughter was the first to find the candy portrait of Justin Bieber, naturally. Several of iconic characters of Ripley fame grace the halls of the Odditorium in statue form. The Lizard Man was my personal favorite.
Tiaras and swords of historic figures (in replica) are on display with real shrunken heads. We couldn’t help but be in awe of the microscopic sculptures created in the eyes of needles. Each room has a new theme complete with interactive displays that keep kids engaged long enough for parents to read the back-story accompanying the items on display.
Being the Harry Potter dork, that I proudly am, I was most impressed with the scale model of Hogwarts made entirely out of toothpicks! I only I could have shrunken myself to scale so I could attend one of Professor McGonagall’s Transfiguration classes. We spent a good two hours exploring the nooks and crannies of the Odditorium, and I suspect we barely brushed the surface. The kids were demanding that we push on to the mirror maze.
Imagine every “Hall of Mirrors” you’ve seen in a movie that featured an old fashioned carnival. Now add doors that open and close, floors that seem to vanish beneath you and long hallways with Gothic arches. This is exactly the setting inside Ripley’s Mirror Maze, and it is a blast! I thought that I’d easily be able to get my bearings and lead my little expedition through the maze. Wrong. I was just as disoriented as they were, thought I didn’t face-plant into a wall like my son did.
Next up was the thrill of the 4-D Moving Theater. One part ride, one part movie, completely cool!
At first the theater looks like any other, you are even outfitted with the same 3-D glasses you’ll find at the local Multi-Plex. This isn’t your grandma’s 3-D though. The seats vibrate, tilt and bounce in time with an exciting hover-board race through a post-apocalyptic urban obstacle course. Air cannons blow through your hair as you get left in the dust. Next up it a race down the slopes that even Lindsey Vonn would be impressed by, complete with bumps, bounces and even snow!
Things you need to know, before your go;
Without giving anything away, there are several things that are designed to startle with loud noises, air cannons, break away pieces and special effects. I’d advise letting the older kids find these features. (bonus, you can laugh at them as they startle and squeal!)
Some of the exhibits be a little disturbing for the younger kids. My youngest is six and we had to talk her past a few things.
- I would not recommend the mirror maze for children under three. It is very dark and may be a little scary for them. That said, I wouldn’t miss it if you have teens. They’ll go in thinking they know it all and get lost, proving you are still smarter than they are.
Open things up, look behind things, really explore and you’ll find lots of hidden features. (tip: open every door and drawer. wonders lurk within)
The staff will provide you with plastic gloves when entering the Mirror Maze. This is to keep smudges off the glass. Plan ahead and bring along your own gloves or mittens, if you don’t like sweaty paws (I do not).
The volume level is tad high. The gallery that houses the mirrored dance area (this is in the main museum) is rather loud, if you have kiddos with sensory issues, you may want to steer clear.
The museum, mirror maze and 4-D ride are all priced separately. This could work out great for families with smaller kids, you could plan to visit several times and see a new feature each time you go.
- Ripley’s also happily hosts birthday parties. Man where was that option when I got stuck with pinning tails on paper equine?
GIVEAWAY: Want to win a family four pack of tickets to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor? Just fill out this form! You have until midnight on May 6th to enter. Only one entrant per person and you must be 18 years of age or older to win.
Disclosure: My family and I were provided complimentary admission to all three attractions. I was not asked to blog about our day or to give a favorable review. I’m all about telling it like it is, so you’re stuck with my opinions.