A two-story green serpent with steam coming out of its nose greets visitors to Ripley's Believe It Or Not! in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Appropriately dubbed "Chessie," the monster is wrapped around the upper level of Harborplace in the Light Street Pavilion. Step inside and visitors will find more than 500 of Ripley's trademark "oddities" spread throughout seven galleries, as well as a mirror maze and a 4-D movie theater with moving chairs and in-your-face special effects.
Some of the weird and wacky artifacts on display include a miniature, detailed model of Hogwarts Castle from Harry Potter made from 600,000 matchsticks, a Mini Cooper covered in over a million Swarovski crystals, and a handful of shrunken heads. Other items include a Chinese executioner sword, a human skull drum from Tibet, rare African masks, mutated animals, a T-rex footprint, and more.
Besides genuine artifacts from around the globe that pay tribute to the odd and strange, visitors will find unusual artwork made from pennies, jigsaw puzzle pieces, hamburger grease, pieces of candy, junk mail scraps, bicycle parts, and even one piece made from 200,000 dead fire ants. There are also many interactive exhibits for kids and kids at heart.
There is also a bit of local flavor at the museum, including a tribute to sideshow performer Johnny Eck. Known as the amazing "Half Boy" and "King of the Freaks," the Baltimore native was missing the lower part of his torso and legs.
He is best known for his role in Tod Browning's 1932 cult classic film, Freaks. Besides the tribute to Eck, outside the museum is a 10,000-pound granite ball balancing on a thin layer of water that is carved with facts about Baltimore.
Galleries at Ripley's Believe It Or Not!:
- Ripley's GalleryRobert L. Ripley traveled throughout the United States and to 201 different countries worldwide, discovering the strange, the unusual, the shocking, and the quirky along the way. See what he encountered in this gallery.
- Weird Art Gallery: Inside this gallery, visitors will find a giant penny made from 10,000 individual pennies, a wooden egg collection with over 600 pieces that were painted by hand using a needle (no two are the same), the world's largest piece of lint art depicting Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," and a sculpture made entirely from driftwood that measures 13 feet in diameter.
- Interactives Gallery: Filled to the brim with hands-on displays and activities, visitors can take aim at a shooting gallery with mutated animal oddities, practice rolling their tongues, or try to solve optical illusions. Look for the tribute to Baltimore's most famous sideshow performer, Johnny Eck, in this gallery.
- Warehouse Gallery: An authentic T-Rex footprint, a dinosaur made from Pop-Tart foil wrappers, a camel's leg bone, cannibal skulls, a burial suit made out of jade form the Chinese Han Dynasty, and a two-headed calf await visitors in this gallery. At the end of the gallery is a life-sized Kaleidoscope made from mirrors that visitors can step into.
- Toothpick City: Around 50 of the world's most famous buildings -- including the Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Burj Al Arab Hotel -- have been re-created out of toothpicks in this one-of-a-kind city. Kids can crawl underneath the displays and pop up into the city, and anyone can control a blimp overhead to see the city from a birds-eye view camera.
- Ripley's Vault: Made to look like a space from the Victorian era, this gallery holds pieces of Ripley's treasured currency from around the world, shrunken heads, a vampire killing kit, an African fantasy coffin, and a medieval torture device.
- Egyptian Gallery: This gallery holds the mummified head of a child, a real mummy case, a large papyrus with hieroglyphics, and a camel saddle used by Napoleons troops in Egypt. Look closely for a set of microscopic sculptures of King Tut, Queen Nefertiti, the God Anubis, and nine camels that fit inside the eye of a needle.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Baltimore
Address: 301 Light Street Pavillion, Inner Harbor
Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 12 a.m. Open 365 days a year.
Tickets: Single tickets for each attraction are $17.99 for adults and $11.99 for children, with discounted tickets for two or all three attractions.