The Nazis made it illegal on pain of death for apes to give the Heil Hitler salute. Believe it or not.
I couldn't find Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum after exiting Picadilly Circus Station. Believe it or not.
Yes, despite standing right in front of its doors, it took me several minutes to find. I had my nose too firmly placed inside my A-Z to look up.
Ripley's Believe it or Not! was founded by American cartoonist, Robert Ripley, who was fascinated by all things weird and wonderful. The franchise began as a feature panel for the New York Globe, but swift expanded to include books, radio programmes, and museums all over the world. There are thirty-two Ripley's museums, and the one in London opened on the 20th August 2008.
With more than seven hundred curiosities across six floors, prepare for your to be disgusted, delighted, and boggled. Standard tickets for adults are £26.95, while children cost £21.95, and seniors £24.95. It is no cheap trip out, but definitely worth at least one visit.
With a museum as bizarre as this, it is no surprise that you travel through the building backwards. Kind of. You start from top to bottom, which means a trip up the lift to the top floor. Since I have a phobia of lifts, the staff were kind enough to take me the long hall up the fire escape stairs. Hey, they should be thanking me, I gave them a workout.
Blinging Mini Car
The museum is very interactive, with facts written on the walls, and television clips of amazing human feats of achievement. You should bring your sunglasses to avoid being blinded by a garish amount of colour, such as with the first display item: a very sparkly mini car.
For some reason, this was parked next to the skeleton of a duck-billed platypus. We all know that they are one of the only egg laying mammal, but did you know that they are also the only poisonous mammal?
Throne fit for a giant.
Also on this floor includes the world's largest rocking chair, and a selection of malformed taxidermy, such as a three-legged rooster, two-headed cow, and conjoined piglets.
Lunch on the ceiling
As well as the Animal Oddities, other top floor galleries include Meet The Upper Crust, Upside Down Room, and Gallery of Greats. It was quite disorienting to see a table an chair on the ceiling. I can only imagine how the Banks children felt when they had lunch on the ceiling with Mary Poppins. At least they were facing the right way up.
The Gallery of Greats had models of famous figures in history. It was interesting to watch the an animated Winston Churchill to give his 'We Shall Never Surrender' speech, as he wagged his finger up and down.
Aren't you glad you live in the 21st century?
Although I had only descended to the fourth floor, it was here that I entered the dungeon and got a glimpse of all the poor suffering sods who faced imprisonment during the Middle Ages.
World's Tallest Man
Oddly juxtaposed to the dungeon is a pinball machine before entry. And if you look over the banister, you can see the tallest man on record.
Although you may not feel like it after walking through the hall of horrors, there is a cafe at the other end, where you can buy a coffee and cake under the gaze of the fattest man on earth. If they have run out of cookies, you know where they went.
Any X-Files fan will enjoy the Under Water Mysteries exhibit on the third foor, which included an albino crocodile, furry fish, and the Feejee Mermaid. This hoax creature had the body of a dead monkey sew to the tail of a fish. Fox Mulder would love this place.
From under the see to out of space, discover loads of cosmic wonders in the next room. This is followed by fossil remains such as dinosaur eggs, a mummified Egyptian hand, and real shrunken heads.
The most enjoyable part of the visit was a trip through the mirror maze. I never believed that they were that difficult to navigate through. Then I tried it for myself. Even more tricky was the Black Hole, which is a tunnel that feels like it is spinning round when you walk through it. It is funny to watch people stagger through the stationary tunnel as if they are drunk, but when you go through yourself, you begin to feel quite light headed, and think you are going to fall over the railing.
Ripley's also has a laser maze that I was really looking forward to but, unfortunately, on the day of my visit, it was not working. I was a bit put out considering it came as part of the price of the ticket, so I felt I wasn't getting all I had paid for, but other than that, I had a very good time. I ended my visit at the gift shop, where they have a lot of their franchise items, such as Ripley's Believe it or Not! Top Trumps and Guinness Book of World Records . There is also a Sweet Emporium, spy accessories, and other fun gadgets.